The continuous need for project assessment and scrutiny

Olivia Crowe

Olivia Crowe

20 Jan, 2023

The continuous need for project assessment and scrutiny

Nature-based projects have many strengths and complexities that require a holistic assessment.

We often receive questions regarding the quality of projects and how we ensure they have a real impact - and rightly so. We welcome these challenges. They are important. Effective climate action is critical and we need to keep the pressure on to constantly do better. 

So how do we know that projects are creating real and lasting impacts on the climate, nature and people? Our goal is to direct financing to projects that have the most impact - not only on the climate, but on other components of healthy ecosystems like biodiversity and local communities.

In the past, we found that existing standards (like VCS and CCB) certify projects with a wide-range of quality, and we wanted to go beyond what these standards offer. This led us to develop our

project assessment

, which in combination with third-party data and analysis from partners like BeZero, ensures we maintain a high standard for the projects we offer. 

Our comprehensive assessment encompasses over 106 indicators of quality across climate, biodiversity and people, linked to both project design and outcomes. Key data points include:

  • the reference data used to calculate project baselines,

  • policy changes affecting additionality, 

  • the proportion of carbon revenue going to communities

  • measurable changes in land cover and/or specific species. 

The assessment has received recognition at COP27 and from the World Economic Forum, and we continue to integrate with third parties bringing new information into the mix. 

Improving verification

Many projects are embracing new technology such as bioacoustic monitoring. Recording devices are been placed around an area and continuous forest sounds will be analysed by AI to estimate animal populations from wildlife calls, detect elusive species and even track gunshots.

There has been a rapid expansion of NatureTech companies developing better ways to design, measure, report and verify project outcomes, with an ever-growing supply of data that is already helping us understand what is working well - and what isn’t. This spans from eDNA kits that test biodiversity in water and soil, devices that continuously record audio and visual data from trees, drones that capture granular changes in above ground biomass, and satellite imagery and AI that can help optimise project design from the start, ensuring impacts will be sustained.

At Earthly, we are excited to support project partners in testing these approaches and increase confidence that voluntary markets can create real and lasting benefits for the climate, people and nature.

The nature-based carbon credit mechanism, when used properly, is one of the most powerful tools we have to accelerate the urgent nature protection and regeneration needed for us to survive and thrive on our planet. 

- Oliver Bolton, Earthly co-founder & CEO