As new standards emerge for voluntary nature-based credits, a project developer in Kenya is shortly to announce its first transaction of biodiversity units.
Kenya-based company EarthAcre pre-announced its first deal of biodiversity credits at New York Climate Week on Monday.
“We’ve had our first transaction for 20,000 hectares … it’s an option to buy biodiversity credits, which can play a very meaningful role in scaling the stewardship and scaling of financial solutions that we need to provide,” said Mark Tracy, co-founder of EarthAcre, to audiences at a biodiversity credit event at New York Climate Week.
“In this case, the buyer is paying upfront, a percentage of the total credit value in order to have the right to buy these biodiversity credits over the next two years. This enables us to put money in the hands of landowners immediately and start funding for interventions,” said Tracy.
Within those two years, the buyer will have the right to exercise that option to buy the credits.
Two-thirds of the revenue from EarthAcre’s credits goes directly to the individuals and that can be tracked and traced to the individual, according to Tracy.
The company has deployed a combination of monitoring technology to the site including Lidar, acoustic monitoring, and camera traps, he added.
Tracy highlighted that ecotourism has “waxed and waned” due to COVID-19 and other economic challenges, so there was a need to find another source of revenue for landowners in Kenya.
The company’s co-founder highlighted that the firm’s approach mirrors that of certifier Verra’s proposed nature credit approach, also announced on Monday, to issue two types of credit: “EarthAcre restore”, which measures biodiversity uplift, and another credit type that rewards nature stewardship.
Not much is publicly available about EarthAcre’s methodology but the company partnered with Harvard University to employ a chief scientist specialising in measuring grassland biodiversity.
The company will target conservancies, which are large grassland areas in Kenya that suffer from overgrazing. According to Tracy, conservancies in Kenya have more total land mass than national parks and are an important habitat for migratory species.
More details on the deal are set to be announced next week.
The event at New York Climate Week also provided insight into other biodiversity credit approaches.
Mariana Sarmiento, CEO at Colombian project developer Terrasos, told audiences at the event that there were problems with biodiversity regulations that led to dispersed short-term outcomes that were not results-orientated, a pitfall that she said the voluntary market should look to overcome.
Sarmiento also highlighted that in Colombia the cosmetic industry was the largest buyer of voluntary biodiversity credits, with the compliance aspect of the market expected to come in the next 18-24 months as regulations emerge.
By Tom Woolnough and Will Koblensky in New York – email@example.com