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Freshfields, as part of its ongoing commitment to carbon neutrality, is delighted to announce its involvement in an innovative project in sub-Saharan Africa that uses reforestation as a mechanism to offset the firm’s carbon emissions.
The firm is partnering with Natural Capital Partners to support a community reforestation project, over a 10 year period, to create Freshfields’ Reforestation in East Africa Programme (REAP). REAP will not only off-set the firm’s global carbon footprint, but also deliver improved financial security, health and well-being to communities in East Africa, while promoting gender equality.
The project creates contractual relationships with small hold, predominantly subsistence farmers. The farmers receive cash payments for planting and maintaining trees which offset CO2 emissions and generate carbon credits. In addition, the farming communities receive training on conservation farming and agroforestry to improve access to food and create additional sources of income beyond subsistence farming. The programme also aims to strengthen the position of women in these communities by encouraging each group of farmers to include women members within their leadership groups, enabling them to gain experience and confidence.
On behalf of Freshfields, the project will be working with approximately 8,000 famers in Uganda and Kenya to plant approximately 2 million trees that will in turn sequester 220,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide over the next 10 years. The project will be verified and validated to the Verified Carbon Standard (VCS) to guarantee the quality of the carbon credits generated.
Freshfields has been carbon neutral since 2007, and over the last 18 months has looked for a way to deliver wider socio-economic benefits through a longer term commitment. The firm has worked with Natural Capital Partners to find the appropriate project and structure this programme.
Freshfields’ Global Corporate Responsibility Partner, Paul Bowden, commented: ‘We have always tried to lead the sector in its commitment to carbon neutrality and the increased focus on carbon neutrality in the run up to the Paris climate change conference makes it even more essential to continue our commitment for the long term. We believe the creation of the Freshfields REAP programme underlines our impressive track record in carbon off-setting with the significant advantage of creating wide-ranging long term benefits for communities in Kenya and Uganda.
‘Our CR programmes always aim to create a real difference for those individuals that need them most, and I am delighted that we are able to marry a number of our broader objectives through our work with this community reforestation project,’ he added.
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