Last changed: 30 January 2023

This guide helps you as a consumer to identify key issues that are important to make carbon forestry projects contribute to positive benefits for local populations.

Actors selling carbon credits usually communicate all the good things about their project and gloss over potential problems - projects may sound perfect when described on webpages or other communication materials. This guide helps you by pointing out issues that are important in order for a project to benefit local communities living on and around a project site.

Even if you invest in projects that are certified by standards, these are not all-encompassing. Also, since contexts are complex, standards cannot guarantee that the project brings benefits to local communities. Therefore, the questions in this guide are still relevant.

Keep in mind that you should focus on lowering your own emissions as much as possible. Supporting carbon forestry projects can be beneficial for the climate, but reducing your emissions should never be replaced by carbon forestry investments – so-called ‘carbon offsettingis seriously questioned by science.



The questions could be asked to organisations managing the projects or to carbon retailers selling credits. Also, some companies buy carbon credits and include offsetting in a product that you buy – you could ask the questions to the company in those cases.
Warning signs point to great risks for negative local impacts. Avoid those projects.

Click on one of these five themes to see the guide:
  1. Understanding the local context
  2. Land use and access for local populations
  3. Degradation/deforestation
  4. Socio economic opportunities and risks for local populations
  5. Power relations including participation

If consumers show they are not interested in projects that do not work seriously with ensuring local social benefits, it will hopefully drive the improvement of projects.

Instead of investing in potentially problematic projects you can focus your money and energy on lowering your own emissions through means you have perhaps not considered yet. The Swedish Environmental Protection Agency (Naturvårdsverket) gives some ideas on this page. Another very important action you can take is to get engaged in a civil society organisation or in a political party and show that you are among those who want action on climate change to happen.



Scientific References