Carbon finance could mean millions for Kenya
In recent months, carbon finance has been widely praised, including endorsements from the U.N., the World Bank, and even the United States. Policymakers and environmentalists alike find the idea attractive because it could help fight climate change at a low cost while improving living standards for some of the world's poorest people and preserving biodiversity and other ecosystem services.
Mongabay.com analysis of U.N. deforestation data suggests that an avoided deforestation initiative could be worth $4-36 million per year to Kenya, depending on how much deforestation it could "avoid" and the market price for carbon offsets.
Between 2000 and 2005 Kenya lost an average of 12,000 hectares of forest per year according to figures from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). How much carbon does this represent? At the low end, FAO estimates that each hectare of Kenyan forest stores an average of 76 metric tons of carbon in above-ground biomass (more exists in below-ground biomass, dead wood, vegetation litter, and soil) that would be otherwise released by deforestation and subsequent land conversion for agriculture or pasture. Other research suggests that net carbon released from deforestation of secondary and primary tropical forest, allowing for the carbon fixed by subsequent land use, is of the order of 100-200 metric tons per hectare. So deforestation in Kenya releases on the order of 76-150 metric tons of carbon for each hectare of cleared or converted for agriculture. As such, Kenya's annual deforestation rate of 12,000 hectares may produce 912,000-1,800,000 tons of carbon emissions per year.