Projects Forest Management
Back in 2011, along the southern shore of Zimbabwe's Lake Kariba, the world's largest REDD+ community forest-conservation project began. Since then, the results have extended beyond the environment, to benefit farmers and communities alike.
Twenty years ago…
Over the last twenty years, one-third of Zimbabwe's forests have been lost. The collapse of Zimbabwe's economy, as well as population growth, have led to significant forest degradation. Struggling communities worked deeper into nearby forested areas to clear more land for farming crops and fuelwood.
To help address this issue, the Kariba REDD+ Project (Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation) was established. This is the world's largest forest conservation project, covering 785,000 hectares of forest. The idea for this project came directly from the local community, which has a strongly rooted commitment to the project in the region.
The added value of preservation
Through the Kariba project, farmers are taught skills to sustainably increase the productivity of the land, which in turn prevents future clearing.
The project's agricultural workshops include training on cultivation techniques to improve productivity and marketing to increase distribution and income from crops.
Eleven community nutrition gardens were in place by 2013 where farmers apply productive land methods learned from the workshops. Each garden can secure a fresh vegetable supply for around forty families. The gardens offer broader benefits in terms of health, employment and income generation.
People are also supported in setting up their own sustainable businesses that align with conservation goals. The acquisition of additional skills – like beekeeping and honey-making – further helps to put a value on the forest itself, as trees surrounding bee hives are more likely to be protected by the community.
To put this value into context, the honey from a single hive can generate between US$500 and US$1000 per year. Only 6% of the population earns more than that per month. The project has also taken action to minimise bushfires through fire management training.
An ingenious twist
Carbon credits are earned equal to the emissions prevented from avoided deforestation. The sale of these credits created the income required to cover initial program costs, and this income will continue to support the project until it becomes self-sustaining.
More benefits around the corner
Additional skills will be introduced, in the next phase of the project such as low-emission brick making. This involves drying the bricks in the sun rather than in kilns, reducing the need for firewood. Also, fuelwood plantations will be established to further prevent forest clearing.
As the deforested areas are given the chance to regenerate, this will create a new wildlife corridor between the adjacent national parks – encouraging the return of threatened species like the Black Rhino – and bring potential ecotourism opportunities.
But it's more than this. The funds from the sale of carbon credits are being invested in infrastructure to support social needs. This includes the renovation of more than twenty schools, the subsidising of school fees, and dedicating a health and education fund to benefit the poorest members of the community.
While this story starts with the forests, it's clear that the benefits of improved agriculture techniques, acquisition of new skills and the positive communitywide outcomes are inextricably linked.
A sustainable future – for everyone
The Kariba REDD+ Project prevents deforestation by providing the community with alternatives. In this virtuous circle, new income opportunities are created along with health benefits, conservations outcomes and global environmental benefits.
Project snapshot Name Kariba REDD+ Project Location Zimbabwe Type REDD+ Emissions prevented 5,500,000 tonnes of CO2 e per year Standard Verified Carbon Standard and Climate, Community and Biodiversity Standard – Gold Level