The Dish

Taking Root : Social Reforestation & Carbon Offsets

Taking Root will receive 7% of our net profits from sales in the month of May 2013. Thanks to everyone who voted on our homepage!

Founded in 2007, Taking Root is a non-profit organization based in Montreal, Canada that develops social reforestation projects in collaboration with small-scale farmers in Nicaragua. The organization's mission is to use reforestation as a tool to restore ecosystems, improve livelihoods, and tackle climate change.

Taking Root’s Limay Community Carbon Project is based in the municipality of San Juan de Limay, in Estelí, Nicaragua. Through better land-use management and more sustainable use of forest resources, the project increases the forest cover of the nearby watershed and improves the quality of life of community residents. Taking Root makes sure to address the causes of deforestation, ensures direct, ongoing community involvement, and provides financial and social benefits for participants throughout the project.


The organization's activities are funded through the sale of third-party verified carbon offsets and carbon footprint management services to businesses and individuals around the world. It follows the Plan Vivo standard, a holistic reforestation framework that emphasizes community participation, using native tree species and protecting critical watersheds. This system offers financial incentives to farmers who agree to manage their land in a way that provides an ecological service, such as planting and maintaining forests to absorb carbon.


While addressing the challenges related to deforestation in Limay, Nicaragua, it has been essential for Taking Root to considers the interdependence of people and forests, such as the impacts of using fuelwood for cooking. The burning of fuelwood in traditional cookstoves has negative impacts both on human health and on climate change, since these stoves release harmful smoke and soot into the air.

Taking Root is helping subsistence farmers in Limay to tackle this problem by developing a fuel-efficient cookstove project to minimize the need for fuelwood and reduce the amount of air pollution created while cooking. To date, they have installed around 25 fuel-efficient cookstoves that use about one-third of the amount of wood than traditional stoves. The stoves also release far less smoke, soot and particle pollution into the air. This is a big health benefit for the women who traditionally spend a great deal of time cooking by the fire, and is also important in the battle against climate change.

The team has also begun testing an interesting invention called the rocket stove. As a by-product, the stove produces small blocks of carbon-rich charcoal, otherwise known as biochar. Biochar has been used in agriculture for thousands of years, helping to retain nutrients and soil moisture. Adding biochar to the soil also helps lock carbon in the ground for thousands of years.


In 2012, Taking Root worked with 63 new farming families to plant over 310,000 trees in the rural communities of San Juan de Limay, Nicaragua. This brings their grand total to 509,000 trees planted- an impressive milestone for the organization’s fifth year. Together, these trees will sequester over 112,000 tonnes of CO2 from the atmosphere, the equivalent to the average annual emissions of over 29,200 cars!

Through the financial support of businesses and individuals around the world, over $400,000 has been added to Taking Root’s community fund. This money will go towards their participating farming families' ecosystem service payments for meeting tree growth and survival targets.

The 2013 planting season is quickly approaching, and project participants are building nurseries and preparing their under-utilized land for planting. This spring Taking Root has arranged to work with over 60 new farming families to plant another 370,000 trees.