Native Virginian and Sierra Club member Tim Whitley was earning his MBA at the University of North Carolina's Kenan-Flagler Business School when he attended two presentations that fortuitously connected two of his animating passions: combating climate change and alleviating global poverty.
Four years later, Whitley has founded Carbon Offsets to Alleviate Poverty (COTAP), an Oakland, California-based organization that empowers individuals to simultaneously take action on climate change and global poverty by funding tree-planting programs that create wages for the working poor in the developing world. Below, a family-run tree-nursery in Uganda that COTAP is helping finance.
COTAP, for which Whitley serves as CEO, connects individuals' carbon footprints—determined using COTAP's online carbon calculator—with accredited forestry projects in less-developed countries, creating "meaningful and measurable" economic benefits for some of the poorest people in the world.
The organization now has up-and-running projects in Central America and Africa, with several more in the works that will expand COTAP's presence to three continents.
Its initial project, in Limay, Nicaragua, above and below, was done in partnership with Montreal-based Taking Root, a non-profit organization that develops social reforestation projects in collaboration with small-scale farmers in Nicaragua.
The community of San Juan de Limay has now planted more than 200,000 trees over an area of 160 hectares (about 235 football fields), and the trees planted by the project have generated more than $145,000 for the community.
Two subsequent projects have since taken root in Africa. In Sofala, Mozambique, below, COTAP is partnering with Envirotrade in its Sofala Community Carbon Project, where last year more than 1,800 participating farmers earned nearly $250,000 in rural areas where annual incomes are less than $50.
In Albertine Rift, Uganda, COTAP is working with Ecotrust's Trees for Global Benefits project, which has supported more than 1,000 farmers in planting native trees and fruit orchards while sequestering nearly 105,000 tonnes (metric tons) of carbon dioxide annually. Below, the program coordinator in Kasese, Uganda, records and monitors new tree growth.