NCG’s “Co+op Forest” Carbon Offset Program Surpasses One Million Trees

Sep 14, 2016

Iowa City, IA — Thanks to an enduring partnership between National Co+op Grocers (NCG) and Peruvian farmer cooperatives, an estimated 1.4 million native trees have been planted or protected in an at-risk region of the Amazonian rainforest as part of a carbon offset program.

Known as “Co+op Forest,” this unique program allows NCG to help slow climate change by offsetting greenhouse gas emissions associated with its business travel and utilities in a way that respects and benefits the surrounding Peruvian community.

Co+op Forest is made possible by a partnership with PUR Projet, an offshoot of fair trade food company Alter Eco. By working with farmer cooperatives producing fair trade organic products, some of which are sold in retail food co-ops, NCG works within its supply chain to bring its sustainability efforts full circle.

"We’re honored that NCG has partnered with PUR Projet again this year to continue their contribution to Co+op Forest,” said Mathieu Senard, Alter Eco co-founder and CEO. “By planting over 5,200 trees, protecting 5,065 acres in San Martin BioCorridor and mitigating 2,750 tons of CO2 since 2012, they are making a big impact in the lives of the farmers and on the environment."

Sustainable Agroforestry

Reducing greenhouse gases is a concern for all, and those involved in the food industry can have a positive impact by influencing the way food is grown. One way to do this is by promoting sustainable agroforestry techniques, like the planting of more carbon-absorbing trees among major crops like coffee and cacao, and the protection of old-growth forests adjacent to cropland.

“We are grateful to have this opportunity to work with cooperatives in Peru to help us do our part to slow climate change through Co+op Forest,” said NCG CEO Robynn Shrader. “The farmer co-ops with whom we partner are doing amazing work by establishing a model for sustainable agroforestry, which not only enhances crop quality but also creates habitat for native species and improves water quality by reducing erosion, all while absorbing excess carbon from the atmosphere.”

The ACOPAGRO and Oro Verde farmer cooperatives plant native trees among their crops in the Alto Huayabamba and Alto Shamboyacu communities as part of Co+op Forest. Some farmers participate in what they’ve enthusiastically dubbed “secure retirement,” the planting of valuable trees on their land that can be sustainably harvested when they reach maturity to provide retirement income. The program is Verified Carbon Standard (VCS) certified.

Conserving a World Treasure

Most of Co+op Forest’s 2016 expansion will support the San Martin BioCorridor, registered earlier this year as a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. This old growth rainforest – which is at risk for petroleum exploration – is one of the most bio-diverse regions in the world.

“For the local farmers, it is a great pride to see that their efforts and their project are acknowledged at an international level." said Pierric James, co-founder and managing director of PUR Projet. Every acre conserved in the San Martin BioCorridor protects an estimated 200-600 trees.

“We are honored to participate in a program that is providing inspiration for sustainable communities around the world,” said Shrader. “To celebrate the region’s recent international recognition, we expanded Co+op Forest to more than double the acreage of old-growth forest protected by NCG in the San Martin BioCorridor.”

About NCG

National Co+op Grocers (NCG), founded in 1999, is a business services cooperative for retail food co-ops located throughout the United States. NCG helps unify food co-ops in order to optimize operational and marketing resources, strengthen purchasing power, and ultimately offer more value to natural food co-op owners and shoppers everywhere. Our 150 member and associate co-ops operate more than 200 storefronts in 38 states with combined annual sales of nearly $2 billion. NCG is a winner of the dotCoop Global Awards for Cooperative Excellence and a Certified B Corporation. Find a map of NCG member and associate co-ops. To learn more about co-ops, visit www.strongertogether.coop.

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Media inquiries may be directed to Eric Davis (eric@harvest-pr.com; 612-424-7545).