Chiawa and Old Mondoro: Zambia’s First Carbon Neutral Safari Lodges

BCP is really happy to announce a partnership with Chiawa and Old Mondoro Lodges in Lower Zambezi National Park whereby these two camps owned by the same company have become the first carbon neutral camps in Zambia.  It is possible that these may be the first safari lodges in Africa to become carbon neutral and be formally accredited as such.

 

This is significant for several reasons:

  1. The Lower Zambezi REDD+ Project protects a vulnerable buffer to the Lower Zambezi National Park.  Engaging the tourism sector in REDD+ endorses the value the private sector places on this type of project in their backyard;
  2. It illustrates that there are African companies, and locally in Zambia, that are taking responsibility for their emissions, and making a concerted effort to do something about it;
  3. It has the potential to shape how people view “eco-tourism”.  We believe that more tour companies around Africa, and the world, should take note of this and make efforts to go carbon neutral through verified REDD+ projects.  We have seen camps claiming neutrality through non-verified projects.  The bar should be raised such that camps that want to claim neutrality do this through projects certified through international, independent standards like the VCS and CCBA.
  4. 50% of the camps in the Lower Zambezi National Park have signed up to become carbon neutral in 2015.  We are working on offsetting the remaining 50% to earn the status of a carbon neutral park from operations in Africa.  We hope that many more parks and tourism operators will follow suit through verified African REDD+ projects such that tourism and conservation management emissions are achieved through projects that reduce deforestation, empower communities and conserve biodiversity.

 

We’re happy to work with more tourism companies, and corporates to offset their emissions.  Please feel free to reach out to us at info@biocarbonpartners.com if you would like to discuss a partnership.

 

We’re so excited about this that we’ve decided to paste in the entire press release by Chiawa from their website:

 

Going, Going, Gone Carbon Neutral – May 2015

 

It is with pride and excitement to announce that Chiawa Camp & Old Mondoro have become, we believe, Zambia’s first “carbon neutral” safari camps.

 

In fact we might even be Africa’s very first carbon neutral camps – at least that can be formally accredited as such.

 

How have we achieved this?

 

Chiawa Camp & Old Mondoro have purchased carbon credits from the Lower Zambezi REDD+ project, using internationally accepted values for fossil fuel use, to offset the carbon emissions Chiawa Camp & Old Mondoro create. Although we do our best, and that we fully understand there is a lot more to conservation than being “carbon neutral”, see our Conservation pages, we still have generators, vehicles, boats, and we run around in town procuring our supplies that, in their production, have also generated carbon.

 

Now before you dismiss this as gobbledegook please read on.

 

Even without the carbon credits, which are independently audited and issued through Africa’s first Climate, Community & Biodiversity Standard (CCBS) triple gold certified project (the 2nd project in the world to achieve this international certification!), we would still support the LZ REDD+ Project because of the vital role it plays in protecting the habitat and securing the northern boundary of the LZNP!

 

Unlike some carbon-offset schemes that have been presented to us and which are often located far from where the carbon was created, the beauty of the project we are supporting is that it shares a massive boundary and much of the same eco-system of the LZNP.

 

Therefore not only are we off-setting our carbon emissions, we are also protecting trees, wildlife and habitat where we operate from the very real threat of utter devastation, via a project that we can monitor closely and which has already demonstrated success not only in reducing deforestation but for instance capturing ivory, a rifle and other poaching contraband in January 2015.

 

Please note that this in no way effects our support of CLZ which we continue to be perhaps its largest commercial sponsor; in fact our support of the LZNP REDD+ project can only enhance CLZ’s efforts and successes.

 

This year we have purchased the credits from our own pockets because we truly believe in the importance of protecting the LZNP’s, until now, exposed northern frontier.

 

For 2016 we will however be adding $5/bednight to what will become our Park Fees, CLZ Conservation & Community, and Carbon Collection. NB our 2016 rates will be released within the next 48 hours.

 

We will also offer our guests the opportunity to offset their own carbon emissions from their associated air travel via the website Stand For Trees where they can select the LZ REDD+ Project at the following page: https://standfortrees.org/en/protect-a-forest/lower-zambezi-community-forest-project.

 

Very importantly, we have chosen to pay a premium price above third party websites to illustrate our commitment to responsible tourism, mitigating our emissions footprint, and supporting forest conservation as a way of reducing human-caused emissions.  In addition to going carbon neutral for 2015, we are working hard to continue to make our camps more efficient and green in other ways, steadily reducing our environmental impact over time.

 

For more information read on …

 

An example of this is switching to sustainably produced eco-charcoal in 2014.  Charcoal is a major driver of deforestation in Zambia, which by UN-REDD+ accounts, has the highest deforestation amount by landcover of any African country per year! By switching to sustainable eco-charcoal, we’re taking pressure off wildlife habitats, and supporting a fuel production switch that we hope all lodges, restaurants, and individuals will shift to over time.  This eco-charcoal is produced again in the same ecosystem, through the BCP Trust, by absorbing traditional charcoalers into a system that pays taxes, sustainably manages forest on a rotation, and uses higher efficiency kilns.

 

By doing this, and by encouraging other safari operations in the Lower Zambezi to do the same, not only better protects and ensures a more secure future for the LZNP but also could make the LZNP Africa’s first carbon neutral national park from operations. At this time, there are only two others on the planet that we are aware of that are carbon neutral from operations: Golden Gate in the US and Exmoor in the UK.

 

Much more can be found on BCP’s website, however to explain further; within the Lower Zambezi ecosystem exists one of Africa’s 7 Verified Carbon Standard (VCS) and Climate, Community and Biodiversity Alliance Standard (CCBS) REDD+ Projects (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation).

 

The project is known as the Lower Zambezi REDD+ Project, and it protects a 100,000 acre swathe of forest in the Lower Zambezi escarpment which provides a 60 km buffer in the hills directly north of the LZNP.  This area is vulnerable due to its proximity to Lusaka, the capital city, so protecting this buffer is critical to the Park.

 

 

 

This project area is privately owned, and BioCarbon Partners (BCP) has signed a 30-year easement to conserve the area with the landowners.  This Rufunsa Conservancy adds valuable additional habitat, as well as a security buffer to the wildlife in the Park.

 

BCP has recently funded the training, equipping, and support of 12 new Village Scouts in the escarpment plus a new radio repeater system to reduce the threat to the Conservancy and park.  Joint operations with the Zambia Wildlife Authority are ongoing, and the next phase of cooperation is for BCP to refurbish the Mukamba Gate Camp to support ZAWA’s capacity to monitor and manage the northern area of the LZ Park. BCP is also supporting the set up of the new head office for the entire Lower Zambezi ecosystem with new desktop computers and internet support to enhance their capacity to support the field offices and teams.

 

The project provides transformational community benefits, and was recognized as the first project in Africa under REDD+ to obtain triple gold certification from CCBS for exceptional community benefits.

 

The project was VCS verified in 2014 meaning that there are now issued verified emissions reductions, independently audited, for sale that can be used to offset individual or corporate pollution.

 

I am proud that Chiawa Camp and Old Mondoro have been the first safari camps to pledge their support, out of our own pockets this year, and being corporate leaders in achieving carbon neutrality in our operations

 

The funds generated from verified emissions reduction (VERs) sales are reinvested into:

1.     Conservation security;

2.     Land management (fire management, anti-poaching roads, radio network)

3.     Carbon accounting (soils, biomass and GIS which is annually verified by US based auditors accredited by VCS)

4.     Community based livelihood projects – in 2014, 400,000 ZMW was directly invested, not including BCP payroll or vehicle transport costs! This includes the community-based sustainable eco-charcoal project;

5.     Support to ZAWA and FD (i.e. Mukamba gate refurbishment, support with laptops to Chongwe AMU Head Office, joint operations etc.).

6.     Finance and Admin support and backstopping.

 

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The Lower Zambezi ecosystem is part of a globally significant area of biodiversity, as well as a trans-frontier conservation area.

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BCP Managing Director and Technical Team Coordinator during a visit Chiawa camp, celebrating its trend-setting carbon neutrality!

Participatory Learning and Action (PLA) Training for CFP and GRZ Partners

In March, sixteen representatives from BCP and GRZ participated in an eight-day long intensive training in Participatory Learning and Action (PLA) techniques, as part of the USAID-funded Community Forests Program (CFP). The PLA training combined both practical and theoretical components, including a five-day long intensive training workshop and a two-day long practical training through a “mock”community engagement meeting in a local village in Luembe Chiefdom.

The PLA training was a critical investment into building the capacity of field-teams who   will be involved in community stakeholder consultation, sensitization and engagement in decision-making about REDD+, in line with adhering to the international principles of Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC).

In 2015, the CFP is focusing on identifying new areas for REDD+ implementation within Eastern Province. This process involves rigorous stakeholder engagement, consultation and involvement in participatory mapping activities, to demarcate protected forest areas and develop local land-use planning for sustainable development. Members of the CFP Engagement Team will work closely with GRZ representatives to undertake these activities, using the PLA techniques they have learned through this training.

“We will be implementing CFP in communal lands. As a result, we need to apply the correct methods of engaging communities in a deeper way than just having conversations,” explained Esau Shawa, a Community Engagement Manager (CEM) for the CFP. “There is need to consult communities on various issues as the project takes shape. We need to know whether they are comfortable with what we intend to do, because they own the forests and they have a strong say in terms of what works for them and what doesn’t.”

Hebron Yowela, a Community Officer, highlighted the value of undertaking practical work in local communities: “We got to understand the kind of livelihood challenges communities are currently facing and the possible activities they would want to see take shape in the communities.” Such information is critical to the development of participatory REDD+ management plans.

In 2014, a pilot Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) for FPIC was developed through a collaborative process involving key stakeholders from GRZ, civil society, academia and REDD+ implementers such as BCP. In 2015, the Engagement Teams leading participatory engagement, mapping and consultation activities under the CFP will adhere to this FPIC SOP. After piloting it at the first site, they will advise on any edits to be made to ensure that the FPIC SOP outlines “best bractices” for participatory engagement, based on lessons learned through practical experience.

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Zambia Wildlife Authority Park Ranger Sangulukani Phiri making a presentation during a Participatory Learning and Action training involving BioCarbon Partners staff and other Government officers.

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BCP and GRZ participants in the PLA training that took place under the Community Forests Program.

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CFP implementing partners from BCP and GRZ spent two days undertaking practical fieldwork, including piloting PLA techniques, in a local village in Luembe Chiefdom, in Nyimba District, as part of the PLA training that took place.