Painting for Protection: CFP and Community Ambassadors Paint Threatened Conservation Forest Boundary in Msoro Chiefdom

Recently, twenty one people including staff from the USAID-funded Community Forests Program (CFP), local leaders and Community Ambassadors from Msoro Chiefdom joined together to paint a 2.6 km boundary along the proposed Conservation Forest.  An area the community has flagged as facing a “high threat” from deforestation, and which they have requested support to “mark”, as the next step forward for the CFP.

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Representatives from the CFP and Msoro Chiefdom painted 2.6 km along a “high threat” boundary of the proposed Msoro Chiefdom Conservation Forest.

Since 2014, the CFP, being implemented by BCP, has engaged with local communities, community leaders, and Government, to identify areas of forest that will be conserved by the community using the REDD+ method. The fact that local communities are now ready and willing to begin visibly marking their proposed boundaries of the protected forest, is a major milestone.

 

This activity also provides an important reminder of the threat that these forests face, including pressure to clear land for agriculture use from a rapidly growing population. Msoro Chiefdom was selected as the first site to pilot visible demarcations. The community brought up concerns and warnings that certain areas of the proposed Conservation Forest are close to villages, flagging these areas as “high risk” for trees that could be cleared along the proposed boundary.

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A felled tree within view of one of the painted boundary trees. While not all areas of the proposed Msoro Chiefdom Conservation Forest face such high levels of threat, near to villages, there are strong pressures for deforestation to spread into areas of intact forest. The CFP aims to help reduce these pressures, by promoting sustainable land use planning, making critical investments into local livelihoods, helping to create incentives for conservation, and empowering members of the local community to protect and manage their forests.

Sure enough, the community members were right. During the painting activity the participants witnessed a “new” village (i.e. started within the past few months) along the boundary of the proposed protected forest area. Near to this village, the team saw numerous trees that had been felled, presumably to clear land for agriculture use. They also saw trees that had been “ring-barked,” a practice that slowly kills the tree. When a tree loses a strip of bark ringing it, nutrients can no longer freely flow through the tree. These trees had been deliberately ring-barked, to make them easier to knock down and clear land for agricultural use. In another case, the trees had been stripped of their bark to make traditional and unsustainable hives for beekeeping. (Note: BCP’s Honey Production Project, which has been launched in Rufunsa, and which we hope to expand into Eastern Province within the next few months, promotes the use of sustainably-produced hives that do not drive deforestation, and which can, in fact, help to create incentives for protecting forests, by allowing producers to gain income from honey produced in areas of intact forest).

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On the left, the visible (painted) boundary for the proposed Msoro Conservation Forest boundary are clear. On the right, a tree that had earlier “ring barked,” which will slowly die. The tree was likely ring-barked in order to be removed, to allow for the expansion of nearby agricultural fields.

The painting activity proceeded peacefully, and provided a great opportunity for Community Ambassadors to speak with residents of the local village, reminding them of the proposed Conservation Forest boundary, and encouraging them to participate in the sustainable livelihoods activities that will be implemented in their Chiefdom. Importantly, the initial boundary painting activity provided a learning opportunity for the participants to visibly mark the “most threatened” areas of their Conservation Forest boundaries, thereby ensuring the local community is aware of the boundaries, and to avoid conflicts based on misunderstandings, in the future. These initial boundary marking activities will be followed by a more formal boundary demarcation process, which will be undertaken in upcoming months in partnership with the Government of Zambia, including the Department of National Parks and Wildlife (DNPW), the Government Department responsible for the management of Game Management Areas (GMAs) where the Conservation Forests are located.

As we came upon a nearby village, we noted numerous trees that had been cut down, to be used for poles for construction of new households. On the right, trees that have been stripped of their bark, in order to make hives for wild honey production.

As we came upon a nearby village, we noted numerous trees that had been cut down, to be used for poles for construction of new households. On the right, trees that have been stripped of their bark, in order to make hives for wild honey production.

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The painting team visited a new village that is visibly still under construction, as evidenced by the freshly cut poles for new structures that are not yet completed.

The Msoro Chiefdom Conservation Forest boundary painting team, earlier this week, comprised of representatives from BCP, as well as members of the local community, including local members of the Community Resources Board (CRB), Community Ambassadors, and the Community Mobilizer for the Chiefdom.

The Msoro Chiefdom Conservation Forest boundary painting team, earlier this week, comprised of representatives from BCP, as well as members of the local community, including local members of the Community Resources Board (CRB), Community Ambassadors, and the Community Mobilizer for the Chiefdom.

 

This blog is made possible by the support of the American People through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). The content of this blog are the sole responsibility of BCP and do not necessarily reflect the views of USAID or the United States Government.

Lower Zambezi REDD+ Revenue Share Inspires Local Communities to Protect their Forests

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Over 100 people from Ndubulula gathered to witness the Revenue Share

The singing and dancing started at 10am in the morning as the Kumudzi Kwathu Drama Group called out to the Ndubulula Community to come and gather. This was a special day that the local community had been waiting for, as this was the day that the first round of community revenue-share from the Lower Zambezi REDD+ Project (LZRP) would be delivered to local communities.

The delivery of community revenue-share from a conservation project is a significant event, especially in this area of Rufunsa District, where heavy unsustainable charcoal demand from the nearby capital city of Lusaka, combined with high levels of rural poverty, help to explain why deforestation has become a problem in recent years.  A baseline survey conducted in 2012 estimated that 88% of local households live in poverty, and 70% of households in the LZRP Project Zone relied on income from charcoal production as a major source of livelihood.

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Juraj Ujhazy, BCP’s Rufunsa District Site Coordinator, gave a short speech about the LZRP being implemented in the zone

One of the goals of REDD+ is improving community livelihoods.  Although the conserved forest of the LZRP is on private land, REDD+ offset revenue is being shared with neighboring local communities to spread benefits and to reduce pressure on Rufunsa Conservancy.  These ‘conservation fees’ are based on communities performing to help protect Rufunsa Conservancy.  In this first distribution, four Community Zones with a population of approximately 1,200 households, are receiving a total US$64,000.  Most of the funds will go to community development projects selected by the communities; these absorb 82% of the funds. The balance is shared amongst the Chief (6%), the Headmen (6%), and the Cooperatives (6%) for their help in ensuring illegal activities stay out of Rufunsa Conservancy.  This REDD+ revenue share amount is separate to an additional US$145,000 that was directly invested into the same communities in 2015 through support from the USAID-funded Community Forests Program (CFP) and Musika, a local partner organization.

This exciting occasion, filled with the color of chitenges and singing and dancing, included a dramatic performance about a family who became involved in the LZRP, who then benefitted from alternative livelihood projects. The play showed that by protecting the forest, they earned money through REDD+.

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Mr. William Phiri reading a speech on behalf of the Zambian Government

The Rufunsa District Commissioner was the Guest of Honor at the Ndubulula REDD+ Revenue
Sharing celebration, and stated: “We are confident that the Lower Zambezi REDD+ Project being applied here will go a long way in complementing the Government’s effort to sustainably improve the livelihoods of people in this community and bring forth a brighter future.”  A ceremonial public Conservation Fee signing ceremony between the Government, Traditional Authorities, BCP and Cooperatives was also held.  Headman Lumwengo, a Village Leader, shared that: “No words can really capture the joyous feeling in my heart on this day. It started like one of those sweet stories when the REDD+ revenue share to the communities was announced but today it has come to pass. I would like to encourage every member of this community to join forces in protecting the REDD+ project area if we are to continue benefiting from it.”

On the same day, the community received a hammer mill purchased through the REDD+ Revenue Share to help them process maize.  Ndubulula also chose for boreholes to be drilled using their REDD+ Revenue Share as surface water becomes more scarce.  Hassan Sachedina, the Managing Director of BCP, added: “BCP’s mission is making African forests valuable to people.  This milestone today of Zambian communities directly benefitting from REDD+ revenues reflects that.  We are grateful to the Zambian Government for their support and to buyers of offsets from Lower Zambezi who helped to make this wonderful occasion happen.”

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Headman Lumwengo signing for his Revenue Share allocation

If you would like to contribute to improving community livelihoods in Zambia`s Rufunsa District, while also reducing your impact on the environment, you can – through the purchase of Forest Carbon Offsets from BCP`s Lower Zambezi REDD+ Project. Please visit Stand For Tress; or for corporate purchases please contact BCP`s Sales, Marketing & Communications Manager, Andrea McWilliam amcwilliam@biocarbonpartners.com.

This blog is made possible by the support of the American People through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). The content of this blog are the sole responsibility of BCP and do not necessarily reflect the views of USAID or the United States Government.