(Bloomberg News) Wildlife Works Retail Inc., a U.S. conservation business, said its project to safeguard forests in Kenya was the first of its kind to get voluntary carbon credits.

The program in the Kasigau Corridor, a strip of land 360 kilometers (225 miles) southeast of the Kenyan capital, Nairobi, aims to reduce carbon emissions and help save 500,000 acres (202,000 hectares) of forest, Wildlife Works said today in an e-mailed statement. Wildlife Works verified the credits according to the Voluntary Carbon Standard, which companies can use to reduce their greenhouse-gas emissions, it said.

South Africa's Nedbank Group Ltd. helped finance the effort and has first rights to buy the credits produced, Kevin Whitfield, head of the African treasuries, carbon and financial products unit at Nedbank, said in a telephone interview from Johannesburg. The project, started in 2005, issued its first certificates last night, he said.

The program has produced 1.1 million of the so-called Voluntary Carbon Units and expects to create 200,000 a year, Gerald Prolman, a San Fransisco-based spokesman for Wildlife Works, said in a separate e-mail.

Forestry Credits

The International Emissions Trading Association and the World Economic Forum helped develop the voluntary carbon standard in 2005. Financial institutions, energy utilities, manufacturers and retailers from Europe, the U.S and South Africa have shown interest in buying the forestry credits from the Kenyan forestry project and there is "a large quantity of credits available for sale," Whitfield said.

Such credits were excluded from the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, and a meeting that the United Nations held in Cancun, Mexico, in December considered ways of creating carbon forestry credits, which may be part of a new climate treaty.

The allocation of the so-called REDD credits, for Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation, offers "unquestionable proof that sound investment decisions and a strong social and environmental conscience are by no means mutually exclusive," Whitfield said in the statement.

The felling of trees, which absorb carbon dioxide, may account for as much as 20% of man-made greenhouse-gas emissions, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

Russia's Gazprom Marketing & Trading, a unit of the world's largest natural-gas producer, created a method for generating carbon credits from forestry projects in Kalimantan, Indonesia, under the same voluntary standard.