Envirotrade© was founded by Robin Birley in 2002 to bring African small-scale farmers into the international carbon offset market. Robin is an English entrepreneur and environmentalist with strong family ties to the hospitality industry and conservation with a vision of a ‘trade not aid’ solution to underdevelopment in Africa. Robin has played a crucial role in raising the profile of Envirotrade and its Mozambique projects.
Robin has engaged a highly skilled team of managers, supervisors, foresters, community/government liaisons and scientific specialists that live and work within each partner community on the ground in Africa. Each project is run by an experienced project manager and supported by a combination of local people and experienced specialists. The Sofala pilot project in Mozambique serves as a training site for the country management teams as well as local staff. The sourcing of capable, competent and experienced senior management is a core skill of Envirotrade and has contributed significantly to its success in operating in resource starved environments.
Envirotrade works closely with a number of organisations on the ground in Africa. The University of Edinburgh School of GeoSciences, Eduardo Mondlane University Faculdade de Agronomia e Engenharia Florestal and various private technical consultancies provide technical/scientific support and collaborate with Envirotrade to produce research. The involvement of the University of Edinburgh School of GeoSciences in the pilot project has been central to its success.
The Envirotrade Livelihoods Credits are certified by the Plan Vivo Foundation according to the Plan Vivo protocol after annual inspections. Verification of the offsets produced against the Plan Vivo Standard has been conducted by the SmartWood program of The Rainforest Alliance, which has also validated the Sofala project at the Gold level for the Climate, Community and Biodiversity Alliance Standard (CCBA). Envirotrade is proud that the Sofala Community Carbon Project is the first carbon project anywhere to be validated for the second edition of the CCB Standard at the Gold level in all three evaluation areas of climate, community and biodiversity.
Envirotrade has worked with a range of NGOs and development agencies, including Fauna & Flora International, WWF, Food for the Hungry and GTZ. Government agencies in Mozambique collaborate with Envirotrade to provide extension services and develop land use management practices. Envirotrade, though the Africa Carbon Livelihoods Trust, is working with the Africa Forum to apply the proven Envirotrade project model in other African countries.
Envirotrade sees the building of community infrastructure as one of its core competencies and, as such, recognizes the mutually symbiotic role that it can play in matching NGOs with its communities. By leveraging the operational infrastructure already in place as a result of the Carbon Livelihoods program, Envirotrade is able to attract NGOs wishing to address the development needs of the communities where it is already working.
In addition to selling carbon credits and providing a platform for NGO project management, Envirotrade provides consulting services to individuals and clients who wish to engage in sub-Saharan Africa in an equitable and sustainable manner. These services include project management and delivery of services and products on the behalf of partners and contracting clients. Envirotrade uses its existing management and logistical strengths in selected countries to provide enhanced delivery and outputs to our clients. We access social networks and strong institutional contacts to facilitate this work and ensure that a more equitable percentage of revenue and services is spent in delivery of actual outputs.
The Envirotrade consulting team leverages its experience working in African forest communities across diverse stakeholders and within resource constrained environments to do comprehensive environmental impact, option scoping, solution implementation and on-going support of forestry and forest community projects. The team is made up of a core group of experienced project managers and is complemented by a wide network of scientists, foresters and community liaison experts positioned across Africa. The team works with clients on a contractual basis to deliver a holistic management of natural resources. Envirotrade is well positioned to undertake studies and evaluations, scoping exercises and the implementation of solutions in either a modular or holistic manner, depending on the client’s needs.
Envirotrade has experience in the management of both pristine and degraded Miombo woodlands. Management includes inventories, land use planning and zoning, enrichment planting, reforestation and fire management. Envirotrade has worked closely with the University of Edinburgh to study the impact of fire on Miombo forests and has developed community-driven fire management strategies that maximise natural regeneration and biodiversity conservation. Management extends to the conservation of flora and fauna in these environments. Envirotrade is able to draw on the skills of its experienced foresters and forest managers as well as scientific partners to develop and manage a biodiversity conservation plan for standing forest.
Envirotrade has successfully piloted a poverty alleviation model in Mozambique in partnership with Edinburgh University and the Edinburgh Centre for Carbon Management that uses the Plan Vivo methodology (www.planvivo.org) to commercialise LULUCF activities which include agroforestry, forest rehabilitation, and forest and fire management. These activities are undertaken in a partnership with forest communities and carbon offsets generated through sequestration are traded and the revenues shared equitably. The Plan Vivo system establishes structures in the partner communities for accountability and transparency in the receipt of revenue at a community level and the distribution of the money in a series of asymmetrical arrangements that benefit both individuals and the community as a whole. Reflecting this approach, Envirotrade’s Sofala Community Carbon Project has been validated under the Climate, Community and Biodiversity Alliance (CCBA) standard at the Gold level in all three areas of evaluation.
Envirotrade has managed the building or rehabilitation of schools, clinics, wells, boreholes and other rural infrastructure and the implementation of adult education, environmental awareness, primary health care and HIV/Aids education in its partner communities. Envirotrade has specialised in working in fractured communities in post conflict societies and rebuilding human and other capital. It has proven its ability to align community development with overall policies and objectives of governments and other stakeholders.
Envirotrade has extensive skills in the rehabilitation and restoration of indigenous forest landscapes. This includes seed collection of indigenous species, germination and care of seedlings, and transport and planting of trees back into degraded landscapes. Envirotrade foresters have successfully managed the rehabilitation of forest degraded by commercial logging, subsistence agriculture, unsustainable charcoal production and other activities. This includes riparian environments and eroded landscapes using a combination of replanting of trees and other grasses and shrubs.