It’s an alluring offer: Plant trees in Panama. Create carbon offsets to help the environment. Then cut the trees and make lots of money.
This is the pitch of SilvaTree.com, a green soaked website adorned with flourishing trees and children blowing dandelions. Buy 660 trees in Panama for $32, 500.00, the company promises, and you will get back at least $145,000.00 – a “guaranteed return” of 15% each year for two decades. This is a “certified carbon offset project,” the company’s online promotion assures.
Except that it is not. Despite sales claims, the company says it’s only in the process off applying for certification. Using carbon offset certification and climate change as part of marketing and public relations aimed at investors hints at a larger problem in a burgeoning market with little oversight. And it concerns those in the industry who worry that inaccuracies at best, or fraud at worst could blemish the reputation of the entire industry. In the voluntary market,there is no monitoring; they are monitoring themselves.