Usual reforestation projects transform the CO2 sequestration of trees into a tradable carbon credit. This commodification process is a financial invention, that is re-evaluated by myforestfarm. Instead of certifying and trading carbon credits, the carbon credit becomes the subject matter. The analysis of the meaning and function of carbon credits and the question what commodity could be generated from the existence of a tree, lead to an artistic concept that reflects the structure of the carbon credit as a commodity in a symbolic way. The resulting photographic works of art are the commodity of myforestfarm, that only refers in its title (mycarboncredits) to usual carbon credits. The creation of mycarboncredits, transformed issues of quantification and validation into a commodity, which reflects its own nature as well as the materiality of virtual images. It generated images of myforestfarm with an artistic value beyond an archival function only. mycarboncredits critique the conventional carbon credit marketing strategies and the illusions that they generate. The earnings from the art works feed into a fund to sustain and hopefully expand myforestfarm.
myforestfarm was initiated with the profits of Dirk Fleischmann's art. His projects create financial profit. It is a basic principle for his art practice to re-invest all profits completely, which means the projects themselves create the budget for the next artistic enterprise; thus, every project is a transformation of the earlier ones. This started in 1998 with some chocolate bars for sale in his studio at the art academy. Six years later, the subsequent operations merged into a solar power plant. The revenues from the solar electricity contributes now EUR 50 (PHP 3500) per month to myforestfarm. The largest contribution of GBP 2000 (PHP 150000) stems from a commission by RSA, Arts & Ecology, London in partnership with ZKM, Centre for Art and Media, Karlsruhe.
Rodolfo Ferrer is contracted as a freelancer. He received a social security number and registered as a tax payer. He gets paid PHP 7000 every month for 160 working hours (20 days / 8 hours). His working schedule is flexible. Part time workers are paid PHP 300 per day for 8 hours. For comparison: Due to the lack of jobs, charcoal making is the only livelihood option for many families in that mountain area, though it is illegal. They make between PHP 3000 and 5000 a month.
The Philippines lost already 90% of its rain forests in the last century (reference), because of depletion and illegal logging. The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) supports reforestation initiatives and there are several tenurial instruments, that regulate the rights and use of these deforested areas. It is not possible not buy a title for the land of myforestfarm, because it is located in the Marikina Watershed Reservation area. It will always be public domain. Now the DENR is about to offer a Protected Area Community-Based Resources Management Agreement (PACBARMA). As soon as the PACBARMA is confirmed between the San Josef Free Farmers Association, we will be considered to get the rights to use and develop the land, because we submitted our request already and Thomas Daquioag is registered at the DENR as the "occupant" of the land.
By the end of 2009, after one and a half years of operations, approx. PHP 400000 (EUR 6000 as at January 2010) were spent for labour costs and material. This does not include personal expenses e.g. travel costs or compensation for the time to organize the project.
Hopefully myforestfarm will be self-sustainable within 10 years, when all fruit trees are bearing enough fruits for sale. The income from the harvest should guarantee the permanent maintenance of the trees in the next decades.