Sustainable Land Bonds - Carbon Finance Case Studies - West Bengal

Earthbanc Carbon Audit Certified

How it works

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Carbon estimates

Collect data on existing and future carbon sequestration. Complete baseline studies for projects with carbon estimates.

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SLB finance issued

Earthbanc issues a Sustainable Land Bond (SLB) that finances the landscape restoration and carbon removal project.

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Carbon MRV Data

Monitor and report carbon metrics including permanence and leakage through satellite AI, tokenised on Regen Ledger blockchain.

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Sell carbon credits

Earthbanc sold carbon credits from the India erosion control trees project financed by the SLB, with carbon payouts to farmers. 

Why Sustainable Land Bonds?

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    Audit Carbon - Support & Verify

    Efficient monitoring and auditing of forests through new digital MRV technology provides the data we need to hit key LDN and landscape carbon removal milestones. The quality of the underlying carbon asset is discerned in the digital MRV audit by Earthbanc, and enables Earthbanc to underwrite and issue the Sustainable Land Bond. Third party carbon verifiers carry out verification, which leads to carbon credit issuance.

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    Protect ecosystems

    Grasslands and forest ecosystems store vast amounts of carbon. Protecting them from further land degradation is critical to addressing climate change.

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    Plant trees

    Sustainable land management (SLM) ensure trees and grasslands sustainability. Managing ecosystems and restoring trees is an important SLM solution that regenerates trees, soil organic carbon and increases land productivity.

Earthbanc Planetary Regeneration Diagram

Earthbanc combines carbon MRV with finance

We harness AI technology to scale carbon removal finance

Improving Carbon Verification

Many carbon offsets have been proven to be inaccurate, by up to 50% or in some cases 100% which means not all carbon offset and credit products should be considered equivalent. Earthbanc is the first climate fintech company to partner with the European Space Agency to use Satellite and Remote Sensing AI to measure the underlying carbon asset in grassland, agroforests, agriculture and forests.

We developed the technology so that projects can get upfront finance for three years, through a universal carbon pre-purchase instrument - Sustainable Land Bond. Ensuring the accuracy and precision of the carbon being claimed in the project - ensures SLB buyers get paid in carbon credits.

Projects we financed and issued carbon credits

Protect Ecosystems

Protecting and restoring forest, mangrove and wetland ecosystems is a critical part of systemic climate action. But their carbon storing benefits are only one part of the story. 

At Earthbanc we support local communities  by helping them monetize the carbon value of their forest homelands. This strengthens their livelihoods and incentivizes their continued protection of the forests.

Your Earth Plus plan protects some of the world's most prolific ecosystems, including mangroves in the Sundarbans, rainforests in Costa Rica and cloud forests in the Himalayas. These sites are recognized biodiversity hotspots, providing critical habitat to Bengal tigers, jaguars, sloths and pumas, to name a few. Whilst the Sundarbans is the earth's largest terrestrial store of blue carbon.

Plant Trees

At Earthbanc we focus on scaling up tree planting through effective management and incentivisation. Our mangrove planting projects have a demonstrated 96% survival rate - that's over double the average rate of 40%. How do we achieve that? By sharing.

Typically, people are paid a one-time fee to plant trees and the monetary carbon value (the yield) of the trees, is kept by the project developer. In contrast, Earthbanc shares the yield 50/50 with the people who plant and manage the trees. 

This is a significant incentive for local communities, of up to three years salary for local communities. Earth Plus offers an approach to carbon offsetting that leads to systemic protection and regeneration.

Sustainable Land Bond Issued for West Bengal Erosion Control Trees - Case Study

The world's first digital Sustainable Land Bond on blockchain, with digital MRV and annual audits embedded. 

Why are digital Sustainable Land Bonds needed? To solve the last mile of financing land restoration and carbon removal. the IPPC reported in April 2022, that ecosystem restoration can deliver 2.9 billion tonnes of carbon removal annually, but only 1% of climate finance goes into ecosystem restoration, due to technical and market barriers.

Digital Sustainable Land Bonds unlock the transformative power of ecosystem restoration and carbon removal, by bundling digital MRV, digital Bond issuance, and the power of web3 blockchain and machine learning technologies to achieve cost and accuracy efficiencies that till now have been out of reach.

Earthbanc has launched the world's first digital Sustainable Land Bond on this platform, and can is being purchased by investors to secure their carbon supply.

One of the biggest hurdles for funding of Sustainable Land Management (SLM) stems from  the lack of data around monitoring and verifying the impact of land restoration activities. There may be strong SLM practices and results at the farm and community levels. Yet, these are not efficiently and cost-effectively quantified as impacts that can be monetised. A lack of standard and consistent criteria for measuring the effect of SLM practices and the high costs associated with accredited verification represent barriers to funding and scaling up SLM practices as a credible, viable investment asset class.

Developing Sustainable Land Bonds (SLB) aims to attract an ever-widening base of impact investors that will enable SLM finance to flow easily into a new asset class within a standardised and popular financial instrument.

The UNCCD has successfully championed international acceptance and alignment around the Land Degradation Neutrality (LDN) biophysical indicators, laying the groundwork for the recommended ‘commonly accepted biophysical indicators’ that will not only form the core criteria for an SLB but will continue to support the development and uptake of LDN and SLM bond asset classes. The LDN biophysical indicators: Net Primary Productivity (NPP), Land Cover, and Soil Organic Carbon (SOC), are the three core components of the SLB criteria and methodology.

Although the technical guidelines on impact monitoring by the Land Degradation Neutrality Fund (LDNF) are sufficient to form the core of SLB methodologies, there is scope for enhancing these using further developed remote sensing technologies, particularly regarding carbon quantification in forest systems, agroforestry and grasslands. Specific SLB project categories would be able to leverage enhanced Artificial Intelligence (AI) Monitoring, Reporting and Verification (MRV) methodologies, as evidenced within Earthbanc’s SLB and MRV case studies.

This proposal supports the SLB core components and design considerations outlined above by showing the impact measurement methodologies and cost-efficient MRV technologies that can help the scaling of SLB bonds in the near term. This is proposed as a pilot for protecting the  38,000  trees and planting 10 million mangroves for preventing   soil erosion in the rural area of Sundarbans, West Bengal, India. Earthbanc will issue a Sustainable Land Bond on its platform, Wednesday, May 5th, whereby the Sustainable Land Bond is a universal carbon credit pre-purchase agreement, that finances the creation of a carbon credit project helping monetize farmers increased tree and soil organic carbon from their SLM activities aligned with LDN biophysical criteria.

The SLB for these increased tree cover is scientifically validated through the process of monitoring and auditing the project's carbon storage, including permanence factors, which track against the LDN biophysical indicators. The Earthbanc Forest MRV Methodology is currently being peer-reviewed by academics and researchers at Stockholm University and the methodology will be made public as an open-source science document on Regen Registry, the web3 open source carbon credit registry that is used by Microsoft and other large carbon buyers, to secure access to high-quality nature-based solutions carbon removal or reduction units.

Earthbanc

Earthbanc’s mission is to revolutionise carbon MRV through open-source AI technology and exponentially grow voluntary carbon markets by scaling up nature-based solutions.  We solve existing problems in carbon markets by increasing accuracy, efficiency, and inclusion in emissions reduction credits, thus elevating their vital role in the immediate protection and reforestation of lands globally. We have been monitoring and planting trees worldwide since the year 2000.

Telia

" We chose Earthbanc to supply carbon offsets due to their Satellite and Remote Sensing AI data-driven approach to auditing carbon offset projects. They ensure the carbon being claimed is accurate and precise when reported "

~ Telia Company

The difference with Earthbanc is that we audit the carbon from each tree for our clients, with technology that is venture-backed by the European Space Agency. Earthbanc has a partnership with the UNCCD to help achieve the LDN global targets. To achieve these goals, Earthbanc works with tree planting projects to have their carbon sequestration audited and reported on accurately annually.

Earthbanc works with established global leaders in voluntary carbon markets to benefit and improve the lives of the communities we work with. We help issue carbon removal credits for tree planting projects to create socio-economic benefits to climate-vulnerable communities who otherwise cut down their forests to be able to afford the necessities of life.

We know from experience that the financial incentives we bring to communities that plant and protect trees with Earthbanc are something that fundamentally improves the lives of many poor communities, with very significant positive impacts in health, education, socio-economic metrics, and many of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) and Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) metrics which we monitor and report on.

We work with globally recognised leaders including the VERRA Foundation, Gold Standard Foundation, Regen Foundation, and UNFCCC CDM projects. Earthbanc re-audits both tree- and soil carbon, to assess if the amount of carbon additionality being claimed is valid or not in the present moment. Earthbanc will report any tree mortality and carbon shortfalls and can replant new trees or remove carbon reduction credits/carbon offsets from the market.  This provides certainty and risk management services for paying for tree planting projects or buying carbon offsets - enabling our clients to have confidence when communicating their tree planting or carbon offsetting achievements to the public.

Project details

1.1 Summary Description of the project

The Sundarbans Reforestation Programme is an initiative by Earthbanc focusing on reforestation and protection of native forest species as well as limiting soil erosion and protecting natural watersheds in the Sundarbans region in India.

The project creates a socio-economic incentive for small landholders, farmers, and forest owners supporting a local sustainable economy towards the passive harvest of sustainably grown wood, protective forest management and conservation. Furthermore, the project seeks to limit soil erosion and create natural protection against floods by planting trees as natural buffers along the coastline.

Managed through Earthbanc’s Microfinance Society (MFS) partner, the project is certified via Earthbanc’s Forest Methodology. The project proponent, the MFS, collaborates with local communities on the ground to plant and protect forests in areas prone to soil erosion and coastal flooding, with project activities spreading across 8,000 hectares of land.

sundarbans
India

Geographic and Demographic setting

Key, Facts

One of the project locations, is South 24 Parganas, located in the south of the state of West Bengal - between the Kolkata metropolitan area and the Bay of Bengal. The entire region is low-lying and thus vulnerable to cyclones and flooding during the monsoon season. The district has a total population of 9.1 million and experiences an annual increase of 1.5%. It is predominantly a rural district, with 85% of the population living in the countryside and 15% in the Kolkata Metropolitan Area. 37% of families in South 24 Parganas live below the national poverty line, which is higher than the national average of approximately 30%.

Project Activity

This programme incentivises local communities in the Sundarbans to plant and protect trees. Earthbanc aims to provide a basic sustainability income that will inspire these communities to reduce deforestation, increase tree cover, and protect the local habitat. 

This programme will involve the following activities:

  1. Economical and functional incentive to conserve forests and limit deforestation, limiting fuelwood use by providing alternative cooking methods such as gas stoves.
  2. Our local partners have already planted more than 38,000 trees which they seek to protect continuously. We are also planning to plant another 10 million trees in the near future. 
  3. Supporting the local community through forest conservation, protecting water reservoirs, limiting soil erosion, and increasing flood protection.
  4. Improving the resilience of new forest, selecting the species based on the site, such as the gradient of the slope, salinity of soil and the tidal norms.

Furthering Stable Income and Social Support

Annual carbon payments and the opportunity of microfinancing enable the communities to transition away from illegal logging and poaching activities. These communities are now proud of protecting their local habitat and have access to a more stable income source that can secure their families.  Our partners also give them benefits like subsidised education for their children and primary health care, making them more resilient to deal with climate shocks like extreme weather events. 

In addition, during the pandemic, there were significant delays in relief distribution for the victims of cyclones Amphan (May 2020) and Yaas (May 2021). Our local partners worked hard to deliver food relief for 2000 families, with 12 kg of food grains and groceries items for each family.

 

Tree planting and protection activities

The following are the different tree species that have been planted for soil erosion control:

Planted species selected by the Project Proponent: Eucalyptus, Radhachura, Krishnachura, Jhau, Native Palm, Mahogany, Sonajhuri, Asokamoni, Banyan trees, Bokul, Wepin Devdaru, Ashok, Babla, Neem, Taal, Supari, Mango, Safeda, Coconut, Jamrul, Sirish, Segun, etc. 

For further details on planting year and the number of trees per species, see Appendix.

Project Monitoring

The Project Activity and its impact are measured and compared to a baseline scenario for each project site. To evaluate performance, we perform annual monitoring as a combination of physical measurements in the field and the application of Machine Learning backed by remote sensing data and ground truth data. To monitor carbon storage and emissions within the Project, we measure a series of metrics, including the growth of trees and the LDN Targets: NPP, Land Cover and SOC. The LDN Targets are further used when calculating project emissions.

Being Conservative.

Project proponents shall always remain conservative within the possible biological range. If measurements are hindered, or the quality of said measurements is questionable for a particular pool, or a comprehensive estimate must be made, a conservative approach must be taken.

When aggregated together, the factors shall lead to a traditional calculation approach. 

This means that in the consideration and calculation of uncertainties: 

  • The CO2‐Fixation shall not be overestimated
  • The Baseline and Leakage shall not be underestimated.

Overview of approach

The steps to preparing a robust measuring plan can be summarised:

The project area is stratified according to its vegetation types. In-field measurements and remotely sensed observations are used to quantify change. These measurements are compared to peer-reviewed literature and regional datasets, to calculate changes in carbon stock.

Tree and non­‐tree biomass of vegetation for each stratum within the project area will be compared to project‐specific, regional or national default values. The selection of values is scientifically based. International default values from the 2019 Refinement to the 2006 IPCC Guidelines for National GHG Inventories are used if no other values are available.

Forest Monitoring

To track the growth of trees we perform physical verification in the field at least every 5 years.  The table below illustrates what information must be sampled for each plot:

Name of monitorer: Ms R. Rabindranath

Slope of ground inside plot: 12°

Coordinate of the centre of plot: 21°42'13.5"N 88°18'27.1"E  ( 21.703746, 88.307538 )

Equipment used to monitor: tree calliper for diameter, clinometer for height and slope, 

Was conversion of units needed: yes, from inches to centimetres and feet to metres

Were any values estimated/inferred instead: No, all values were monitored

Monitoring Land Degradation Neutrality

The following is a brief explanation of the three LDN indicators along with relevant monitoring considerations:

Land Productivity

Land productivity is the agricultural output per unit of land measured as Net Primary Productivity (NPP) in kg/ha/yr. NPP is therefore specific to the tree/crop species  planted and varies across landscapes. Monitoring of net primary productivity may be based on approaches described in the “2019 Refinement to the 2006 IPCC Guidelines for National Greenhouse Gas Inventories, Volume 4, AFOLU”. Carbon sequestration and carbon stock can be monitored to create a carbon revenue based on primary productivity within a variety of different landscapes. By monitoring land cover change and classification, it’s possible to calculate changes in CO2-e (Carbon Dioxide equivalents) based on changes in emissions and primary productivity for a variety of landscape classes. 

Land Cover

Land cover refers to the physical surface of the earth, including various combinations of vegetation types, soils, exposed rocks and water bodies as well as anthropogenic elements. The likelihood of future land cover change can also be predicted through time-series analysis using remote sensing data, e.g., by monitoring the correlation between a decrease in ground vegetation cover and natural hazards, such as wildfires and soil erosion. The monitoring of land cover change and natural hazards can further assess Green House Gas (GHG) emissions and changes in carbon pools, e.g., change in biomass and SOC.

Soil Organic Carbon (SOC)

According to the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO), “Soil organic carbon is crucial to soil health, fertility and ecosystem services, including food production – making its preservation and restoration essential for sustainable development. Soils with high carbon content are likely to be more productive and better able to filter and purify water. Soil organic carbon plays a big role in climate change, presenting both a threat and an opportunity to help meet the targets of the Paris Agreement” [1]. SOC is a highly context-specific biophysical indicator that still requires conventional on-ground soil sampling for measurement. There is no internationally agreed definition of a standardized soil SOC information system [2]. However, remote sensing (RS) techniques in the Visible-Near Infrared–Shortwave Infrared (VNIR–SWIR, 400–2500 nm) region could assist in a more direct, cost-effective and rapid manner to estimate important indicators for soil monitoring purposes [3].

Project Timeline

Impact Summary (2020 to 2022)

The project intervention began in 2020, and we have been assessing the impact of the project between the period 2020 to 2022.

Future Activities

Earthbanc has a unique competence for using remote sensing data and AI to calculate GHG emissions of Agriculture, Forestry and Other Land Use (AFOLU). This will help in quantifying the carbon both in the soil and in trees, as well as other measurable ecosystem services, sustainable agriculture practices, sustainable agroforestry, etc. 

To invest in a large scale reforestation project enabling you to offset your carbon footprint, via pre-purchasing carbon credits. Earthbanc proposes a 4 step process:

Additionality and Permanence

Additionality, in this case, is based on reforesting natural wetlands and green corridors in the project Area compared to the rest of the region, furthering natural forest growth, adding and creating an economic incentive for local communities to manage the forest sustainably. The permanence of reforestation is dependent on continuous collaboration with the local community. According to our historical analysis, the project proponent claimed agricultural activity was the main reason for deforestation in the project area. In addition to deforestation due to land invasions and the conversion of forests into agricultural lands.The newly established plantations of 2020-2021 have been physically verified on the ground by Earthbanc’s internal assessment team, reviewing several plants and the mortality rate to ensure our models are up to date.The MFS implemented natural green belt and mangrove plantings, providing the basis for natural succession and reforestation. The mangrove and wood plantations are protected as continuous forest cover through MFS activities, giving stability and habitat for natural wildlife and plant life. As the areas are protected, a net increase of carbon stored in Below Ground Woody Biomass results. The 38.000 mangroves and soil erosion trees will sequester  20.307 (20,307) tCO2 equivalent. The additional 10 million mangroves will sequester 5,276,400 tCO2 equivalent.

References

[1]   FAO, Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations. “Soil organic carbon | Global Soil Partnership”.  Accessed: April 2022

https://www.fao.org/global-soil-partnership/areas-of-work/soil-organic-carbon/en/

[2]   Davis, M. et al. (2017). “Review of Soil Organic Carbon Measurement Protocols: A US and Brazil Comparison and Recommendation”. Sustainability 2017, 10, 53.

Accessed: April 2022

[3] MDPI, Theodora, A. et al. (2019). “Remote Sensing Techniques for Soil Organic Carbon Estimation: A Review”. Accessed: April 2022

Appendix

List of Trees Planted

Trees planted for soil erosion control. Planted  2020 to 2022

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