Windbeutel flop: foodwatch publishes report on carbon offset project with methodological errors and false claims - and harms the climate as well as Brazil nut farmers in Peru
December 9th, 2021
foodwatch report on the Tambopata Forest Conservation Project: Independent experts provide evidence of methodological errors and false claims.
In November 2021, foodwatch published a report on the Tambopata forest protection project in Peru as part of nominations for its "goldener Windbeutel" and massively criticized the project's contribution to climate protection. However, essential statements of the foodwatch report on the Tambopata forest protection project are based on methodological errors. This has been proven by independent experts, including Sylvera, the internationally recognized expert on carbon offset projects. VERRA, the world's leading standard setter in the field of climate protection, also states that foodwatch uses a severely flawed analysis and makes false claims. The most monumental errors: the report analyzes a wrong project area and uses a wrong data basis. As a result, the conclusions drawn that the project would not have existed and that deforestation would increase are equally wrong.
Read the most important facts from independent experts here:
1. foodwatch has analyzed the wrong area
The project area on which the analysis of the foodwatch report is based does not match the real project area: the foodwatch report includes areas outside the protected forest areas, so the statements for the project and the project area cannot be correct. (Sources: Map of the project developer Bosques Amazónicos (BAM) versus map foodwatch report 2021, p. 16)
2. foodwatch uses an incorrect data basis
The foodwatch report is based on data from Global Forest Watch (source: foodwatch report 2021, p. 14). However, the data from Global Forest Watch (GFW) is only a global model and explicitly not adapted to the local conditions of a specific region. The foodwatch report itself even points out that a very accurate assessment on the basis is not possible (source: foodwatch report 2021, p. 15), but then, against better knowledge, does it anyway.
3. false claim of allegedly increasing deforestation in the project area
Contrary to foodwatch's claims, there is no evidence of a deforestation rate in the project area. On the contrary, geodata from the project area obtained via satellites (see Sylvera) clearly proves that the change in forest cover in the project area is significantly lower than in the reference area.
4. misrepresentation of the baseline deforestation rate
Foodwatch suggests that a uniform baseline deforestation rate of 1.23% is the basis for determining the CO2 reduction credits to be issued. However, the basis for the amount of CO2 reduction credits is the actual deforestation rates, which vary annually.(Source: Bosques Amazónicos (BAM) 2012).
5. ignorance of the project measures on site
In its external communication, foodwatch claims that the project "existed only on paper, at least in the first few years" and thus implies that no local project activities took place during that time. This is false and not comprehensible. The report of the local project developer Bosques Amazónicos (BAM) shows clear activities from the beginning - starting with the designation of concessions for the farmers to cultivate Brazil nuts, workshops to support the farmers in cultivation and sales, and financial investments of farmers since the project has generated positive financial returns.
(Source: Bosques Amazónicos (BAM) response to foodwatch, 2021).
6. ignorance of those responsible in the field of climate protection
In the foodwatch report, the different institutions and organizations involved in carbon offset projects are mixed up. It is important to distinguish who is responsible for the international specifications and standards (VERRA) and who is responsible for audits and certifications (SCS and S&A Carbon). Confusion of responsibilities inevitably leads to misstatements.
(Source: Verra statement, https://verra.org/verra-statement-about-foodwatch-report/)
As a result, the foodwatch report lacks scientific due diligence as well as external verification and general expertise on the certification process of carbon offset projects. Moreover, foodwatch's unjustified criticism puts the forest protection project at risk: the project and the farmers are sustainably dependent on the sale of CO2 reduction certificates because the project cannot support itself financially without this income. Thus, foodwatch harms the local farmers and also the climate.
Download the press release as PDF.