SAFAS value-based platform for GHG reporting successfully piloted
Legislation requires South Africa’s forestry and sawmill companies to report GHG emissions and carbon sequestration. However, sawmills and other carbon tax-paying processors can’t offset emissions against the carbon stored in their products unless they own the plantation, which disadvantages small growers’ access to markets.
Only plantation owners with 100ha or more can register and report on the South African Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Emissions Reporting System (Sagers). Sawmills pay tax on annual GHG emissions and offset sequestered carbon on harvested wood products for first-party timber and plantations under their operational control.
A caveat is that sawmills can’t claim offsets for logs from third- party growers because the National Treasury is concerned about the following:
- Administrative challenges in monitoring and verifying third- party activities
- Potential for double accounting
- Potential for abuse of accounting requirements
- Lack of operational control over third-party plantations.
The forestry industry recently held an online seminar where Sewela Malaka of the Department of Forestry, Fisheries and Environment (DFFE) presented Sagers. She said Sagers assumes one carbon credit equals one ton of reduced GHG emissions expressed in tons of CO2 equivalent (tCO2eq).
Julie Borland and Dr David Everard presented the industry’s proactive solution for the treasury’s concerns. Borland, the research and development coordinator at the Paper Manufacturers Association of South Africa (PAMSA), highlighted the potentially detrimental impact of the legislation on mills and small and medium growers”.
“A significant proportion of mill intake is from third parties. This contribution must be recognised, used and accounted for by the mill. Mills may stop sourcing logs from small growers. We don’t want to see small growers disadvantaged; we need to level the playing field”, she said.
Borland said PAMSA and the Sustainable African Forest Assurance Scheme (SAFAS) engaged with the DFFE to develop and pilot an alternative solution.
Everard, chair of the SAFAS council, explained how they developed a multi-step measurement, reporting, and verification (MRV) protocol using the Value-based Platform (VBP) tool.
The SAFAS VBP is a risk management system for forest managers, farmers, investors, development financiers and others to identify and prioritise the sustainability risks of a forestry or farming enterprise.
Sappi, NCT and TWK currently use the VBP to calculate the carbon stored and emitted from their plantations while tracking their sustainability for forest certification.
The results confirm that the platform works; however, access to Sagers has yet to be established. Everard says a sawmill owner can use the VBP as a management tool to track suppliers’ carbon because the plantation owner or manager will complete a risk survey and provide data for calculating carbon storage and emissions. “When the treasury accepts the protocol, the companies can use it to track their outside suppliers’ carbon”, he explained.
“By joining the SAFAS carbon reporting protocol or the SAFAS Landscape Certification Programme, SAFAS will register the mill or supplier on the Sagers platform and annually calculate and report its carbon balance as per legislation”.
The VBP will assist growers to:
- Manage carbon stocks
- Keep in step with legislation and compliance.
- Report and publicise their contribution to national and global emission reduction targets.
- Be proactive and prepared for possible future carbon taxes on forestry as a land use.
“Additionally, the VBP houses and delivers various supporting information to assist with land use decision-making”, Everard said. “It strengthens forest certification and facilitates access for all scales of forestry, including smallholders and people living on communal land.
“It does this by assisting forest managers to identify and prioritise the values and risks to sustainable forest management, streamlining the certification process and reducing the administrative burden for the national sustainable forest management system”.
By: Joy Crane
Source: WoodBiz Africa (Page 3)
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