The Earthly Rating
Industry-first holistic project assessment
To provide a comprehensive assessment of projects, we analyse 106 data points, aggregating information across the three vital pillars of carbon, biodiversity and people. Projects in Earthly's marketplace all exceed a minimum score of 5/10.
Scolel’te's impact so far
Hectares of land restored
IUCN threatened species protected
Communities with improved water access
The Scolel’te project covers an area of 9,150 hectares in the southern Mexico states of Chiapas and Oaxaca. Scolel’te, which refers to “the tree that grows” in the Mayan Tzeital language, is the longest-running Plan Vivo certified project and has been officially operating in Mexico since 1997. Over the last 25 years, Scolel’te has been a model of an effective forest offsetting program with a strong commitment to biodiversity enhancement and social wellbeing.
The project uses afforestation and reforestation techniques to restore degraded forest areas using native tree species. The project is based on stakeholder engagement and participation, and contributes to social well-being through direct employment and payments, education, and supporting marginalized groups. 60% of carbon credit sales go directly to the participating smallholder farmers, totally over $860,000 in direct payments over the project’s lifetime. Scolel’te is improving biodiversity outcomes by planting a mix of native tree species and providing crucial habitat for flora and fauna (including 24 species on the IUCN threat list).
Why this project?
The states of Chiapas and Oaxaca, where Scolel’te operates, face significant deforestation pressure, mostly driven by land use change due to agricultural expansion, forest fires, firewood extraction, harmful agricultural practices, poorly applied policies, and pest and disease outbreaks. Systemically, marginalization, rural poverty (largely due to soil degradation and declining crop yields) and poor local governance are contributing to the transition of land from forest to agriculture, unsustainable tourism and leading to increased urbanization. On top of this, the region is already experiencing many harsh effects of climate change (for example, 96 out of the 124 municipalities in Chiapas state suffer from some degree of drought). This is worsened by population dispersion that makes individual communities extremely vulnerable to natural disasters such as forest fires.
Scolel’te is addressing deforestation in the region by protecting and restoring over 9,000 hectares of forest. They are also addressing the systemic drivers of deforestation by providing direct employment and payments to farmers and increasing access to educational opportunities.
Scolel’te’s forest restoration work not only improves biodiversity outcomes in the project area, but they have shown a commitment to improving ecosystem connectivity. By developing 3 biological corridors they have helped to connect existing protected areas to benefit wide-ranging and migratory species. Furthermore, the project monitors the progress of biodiversity conservation in the area through a robust biodiversity monitoring program.
Great for Earth
Scolel’te’s main objective is to maintain and increase forest cover and protect crucial habitats while ensuring economic sustainability.
The project employs a diverse set of forest management activities (agroforestry, reforestation, sustainable forest management, etc.) to restore degraded forests and reduce pressures on existing forest areas.
In the agroforestry and reforestation activities, at least 27 native tree species are planted by farmers, with the choice of tree species decided by the individual farmer based on which species are appropriate/adapted to the microclimate.
As a result, the project has restored over 1,100 hectares of forest between 2017 and 2021 and covers an area of over 9,000 hectares in total.
The project has an extensive biodiversity monitoring strategy. For example, they monitor species via camera trapping, and have documented 25 species of native and migratory birds, 15 indicator mammalian species, and 20 amphibian and reptile species since 2019. The project activities also provide crucial habitat for 24 identified species within the IUCN threat list.
The project area is located near several national protected areas (such as the Montes Azules Biosphere Reserve) and the project is rightly investing in biological corridors to improve the connectivity between protected areas. To date, they have developed 3 protected biological corridors.
Positive for People
Stakeholder engagement and inclusion in project design: Project activities are designed in a participatory manner and only take place where smallholder farmers have direct ownership of their land. Community technicians are selected by local farmers and trained and serve as the main sources of consultation for implementation of project activities.
Livelihoods: 60% of carbon sales go directly to farmers. This has amounted to over $860,000 in direct payments over the project lifetime and over $73,000 in 2021 alone. Divided by the number of participants this amounts to $407/participant, which essentially doubles the average income of project participants.
Employment: The project has directly employed 51 people since 2017.
Education: As of 2021, the project has provided educational materials to 15 elementary school children and held 13 workshops on a range of topics. The project has focused on strengthening local resource knowledge related to sustainable firewood collection, sustainable agriculture, and collection of non-timber forest products (NTFPs). 10% of direct payments to farmers were spent on education such as tuition payments and the purchase of school supplies.
Health: So far, 38 communities have better access to water sources.
Gender equality: The project focuses on supporting underrepresented groups such as women, children, and indigenous people. As of 2021, they have provided specific workshops for 561 women, 166 indigenous people, 765 children and have set up 17 working groups for these underrepresented groups.
Monitoring: The project has an extensive socioeconomic monitoring program where they assess important socioeconomic indicators (such as the average level of education and the % of women who are victims of gender violence) against a baseline socioeconomic survey to monitor the project’s progress.