Twelve communities in Zambia’s Luangwa Valley area are benefitting from direct cash payments totalling K50-million thanks to a partnership with forest conservation business BioCarbon Partners (BCP.
The ground-breaking Luangwa Community Forests Project (LCFP) and the Lower Zambezi REDD+ Project (LZRP) facilitated by the company are a joint effort with communities, the Zambian Forestry Department and the Department of National Parks and Wildlife, BCP said in a statement on Friday.
The African conservation social enterprise employs over 160 people across 13 chiefdoms in Zambia, partnering to help conserve one million hectares of habitat in critical ecosystems.
The public-private-community projects set a new standard in forest conservation, putting the southern African country at the forefront of global efforts to combat climate change, while protecting forest resources and creating livelihood opportunities for local people.
“My community has worked hard towards this REDD+ verification success for Zambia,” community leader chief Bunda Bunda said in comments carried in the BCP statement.
REDD+ is an international framework whose name stands for “reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation, conservation of existing forest carbon stocks, sustainable forest management and enhancement of forest carbon stocks”.
Deforestation and forest degradation are the second leading cause of global warming, responsible for about 15 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions, which makes the loss and depletion of forests a major issue for climate change.
“We thank the government for helping our chiefdom to access REDD+ benefits and BCP for the partnership, which has increased employment, livelihoods and development projects,” the Zambian chief said.
LZRP is the world’s first REDD+ project to pass seven Verified Carbon Standard audits, enabling income to be generated from credits that offset the carbon footprints of organisations producing greenhouse gases.
LZRP was also the first REDD+ project in Africa to achieve triple-gold validation under the Climate, Community and Biodiversity Standard for exceptional social impact.
“We are privileged to support government and community efforts to conserve the Luangwa-Lower Zambezi ecosystem, one of the greatest remaining wildlife strongholds on earth,” BCP chief executive officer Dr Hassan Sachedina said.
“This has been a tough year due to the (Covid-19) pandemic; tourism and conservation funding have declined, but through the extraordinary efforts of our partners such as the Forestry Department, the LCFP has channelled K50-million into communities.”
He said the Luangwa forests project, backed by the United States Agency for International Development, was the beginning of a long-term, self-sustainable conservation model which benefits communities and wildlife.
At 944 000 hectares, the LCFP is Africa’s largest project by hectares and improves the lives of 217 000 people in 12 chiefdoms.
The Lower Zambezi REDD+ Project covers 40 000 hectares and benefits 7 000 people in one chiefdom.