Celebrating Women on the Frontlines of Conservation – Meet Madaliso

For the month of March we celebrated the incredible women we work with through our three part series, “Women on the Frontlines of Conservation”. Last but not least is Madaliso, one of our Community Engagement Officers based at our Mfuwe site. She and her team play a key role in working with local communities to protect thier forests through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) funded Community Forests Program implemented by BCP. This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Madaliso on a field visit to the Malama Chiefdom and very excited to spot giraffes. A sign of conservation at work!

How long have you been working for the USAID funded Community Forests Program implemented by BCP?

Over 6 months

What is the best part of your role at BCP?

The best part of my job is being outside and helping spread awareness about how vital this program is to our lives so that communities can see long term benefits.

What excites you about working for BCP and being a woman working in conservation?

I get excited about interacting with people at the grassroots level. Being a woman working in conservation is valuable. We are the ones who understand what is going on the best and we are the ones who can makes changes.

I also love the conservation side. We have a lot of men on our team but few women. When I’m out in the field, I can do the same thing as the men and it builds my confidence. Field work also makes me realize how much climate change affects poverty.

Not afraid of rolling up her sleeves and getting down to business, Madaliso checks up on a Partnership Impact Project in Mwanya Chiefdom, a boat to help transport people across the river during the rainy season which improves access to healthcare and education.

What is the greatest challenge you face in your work in conservation?

The greatest challenge is people telling me they don’t believe in what we do, or in conservation. Field days are also long. It’s hard work moving around in the bush, but I get to see a lot of places, understand what is happening and learn how people are affected. Sometimes we are only guided by GPS. Yet even at the end of the day I still have a heart to conserve nature and contribute to the world. It’s challenging but the best thing at the same time.

As a woman – what challenges have you faced in pursuing your career goals? How do you overcome these challenges?

It takes a big heart and a lot of courage to do this work. My friends didn’t think I could do anything with conservation, they said I needed to make money fast. Other people were surprised when I started working for BCP because they said it was tough work and should only be done by men, but I stayed with it and was passionate about my work. I love what I do. If you’re always complaining, it’s not for you.

As a Community Engagement Officer, Madaliso, works closely with local communities, sometimes conducting meetings to discuss our work and programs ensuring that communities understand and value forest protection.

Why is it important to work with women at a community level in conservation projects?

We need to work with women because they rely on agriculture and forests. They are the ones who are left out in development work, but are the ones most affected. They need to be highly involved in this project.

What advice would you give young girls who want to get involved in conservation?

Girls should become interested in conservation, not for the money, but for the future of a healthy world. They should take a global interest and understand that each of us will be affected by climate change but that they can make a positive difference.

Thanks to Madaliso’s hard work people in the local communities around Mfuwe are valuing and protecting thier forest.

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

Photo Credits: BCP 

Celebrating Women on the Frontlines of Conservation – Meet Rebecca

We are dedicating the whole month of March to celebrating the incredible  women on the frontlines of conservation through this three part series of interviews. Up next is Rebecca, a Community Scout based with our team in Rufunsa Conservancy. As one of the people on the ground, Rebecca monitors and protects the forest and wildlife in and around our Lower Zambezi REDD+ Project and the Lower Zambezi National Park. This interview has been edited for length and clarity

How long have you been working for the USAID funded Community Forests Program implemented by BCP?

Almost 3 years.

What is the best part of your role at BCP?

I enjoy conserving nature and I like protecting the wildlife from poachers.

Rebecca, seen crouching, is working with her team to monitor forest and protect wildlife in and the Lower Zambezi National Park.

What excites you about working for BCP and being a woman working in conservation?

I grew up in Luangwa and saw how the Department of National Parks and Wildlife look out after animals which helped develop my interest. I like being part of the conservation team with the Community Scouts. It makes me feel good knowing that I can do what a man can do. Most of the women don’t want a job like this, they think it’s just for men. One day I would like to become a Wildlife Police Officer.

What is the greatest challenge you face in your work in conservation?

It’s challenging to be the only female on the team sometimes. I worry about my safety with poachers and animals. With poachers I worry that they would make me their target. Where the bush is thick it can be challenging, poachers see you’re a women and will target you first. I’ve also been chased by elephants and ended up twisting my leg.

Rebecca in the field communicating with the rest of her team at Rufunsa Conservancy

As a woman – what challenges have you faced in pursuing your career goals? How do you overcome these challenges?

My family didn’t approve of me becoming a scout. They thought it was a job for men. I just told them that I just had to do this and wanted to be independent.

What barriers do you think woman face in getting involved in conservation?

Not many women get involved in conservation because its hard work. They fear training. You undergo a lot of physical training, learn theory and practical’s like detecting a poacher’s camp.

What advice would you give young girls who want to get involved in conservation?

It’s good to conserve nature and protect animals. Spread your knowledge about conservation to your community and study it.

As just one of several Community Scouts, Rebecca is proud to work with her team to protect Zambia’s forests and wildlife.

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

Photo Credits: BCP 

Celebrating Women on the Frontlines of Conservation – Meet Mwaka

Today, March 8th, is International Women’s Day, but we’re not stopping celebrations at one day. Instead we are dedicating a whole month to celebrating the incredible  women on the frontlines of conservation through this three part series of interviews. First up is Mwaka Mphande, one of our  Community Engagement Officers who is playing a key role in working with communities to protect the forest.

 

 

How long have you been working for the USAID funded Community Forests Program implemented by BCP?

Six months.

 

What is the best part of your role at BCP?

I enjoy being out in the field work, working with communities on Environmental Education Activities and writing reports. I also get really excited about working with all people in the community and promoting gender equality in conservation.

 

What is the greatest challenge you face in your work in conservation?

We walk long distances while monitoring the forest and boundary painting. It’s a lot of hard work. The other challenge is getting people to understand our project and why they should protect trees.

 

As a woman – what challenges have you faced in pursuing your career goals? How do you overcome these challenges?

My biggest challenge has been finding finances for my studies, but I have overcome these challenges by utilizing opportunities that come my way.

 

Why is it important to work with women at a community level in conservation projects?

Women in general manage and act as sources of information on the use of natural resources. Around the world they have many responsibilities at the household level and manage a range of activities at the community level.  They benefit from the conservation and sustainable management of biodiversity. Women are very committed to forest protection and management.

 

What barriers do you think women face in getting involved in conservation?

In many cultures women are excluded from leadership and decision making roles. Deforestation affects women in particular because they are usually the ones who collect firewood and water while traveling long distances. This means they spend more time and energy doing this, which has a negative impact on other activities to earn income and have free time. Women’s rights to land and forests are also not as secure as a man’s.

 

What advice would you give young girls who want to get involved in conservation?

I advise young girls to stay focused at school, join a conservation youth group, get involved by volunteering for other conservation activities and share your conservation knowledge with the community.

 

Mwaka hard at work with her team monitoring the boundaries of a community forest

 

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

Photo Credits: BCP 

New Cruiser Speeds into Action to Combat Wildlife Crime

2017 began with excitement, as the Lower Zambezi Tracking and Detection Dog Unit received their much awaited new and modified Toyota Land Cruiser. This vehicle will play an incredibly vital role, enabling this team to operate independently as a unit whose aim is to combat poaching and trafficking in and around the Lower Zambezi National Park. The new Land Cruiser 4 x 4 was supplied as part of a sub grant of $150,000 awarded to Conservation Lower Zambezi and the Department of National Parks and Wildlife in order to set up the new Tracking and Dog Detection Unit in 2016. The sub grant was funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) through the Community Forests Program (CFP), being implemented by BCP.

The stars of this new unit, German Shepard’s named Lego and Bar, and their four handlers underwent three months of intensive training before graduating onto anti-poaching operations duties in August 2016. While waiting for the new Land Cruiser to be delivered, the Community Forests Program volunteered one of their own vehicles as a loan so that the Tracking and Detection Dog Unit would have no delays in becoming operational. This highly specialized unit brings real additional value to disrupting wildlife crime chains in this important ecosystem.

This latest addition to the team, a purposely modified new Toyota Land Cruiser, is able to carry two batteries for extra power, a high lift jack, towing winch, external lighting and removable chairs so the dog kennels are not disturbed when people are getting into the vehicle. These modifications to the Land Cruiser will help the team cover difficult terrain and improve accessibility and effectiveness in detecting and tracking poachers.

 

During the vehicle handover ceremony on January 12th, the Unit put on a demonstration of the dog’s tracking and detection skills. Lego detected an AK-47 firearm that was hidden in a vehicle, and Bar detected a piece of ivory that was hidden around the BCP Office grounds (note: the ivory was loaned by Department of National Parks and Wildlife for the purposes of the demonstration). With a sense of smell significantly much greater than humans, Lego and Bar have been trained and “imprinted” on five sensors (smells), including:  ivory, pangolin scales, bush meat, firearms and ammunition.

“When tracking, the dogs do not know what they are going to find, they go for anything that they have been trained to detect. When they find an item they indicate by sitting and looking where the item is until we see what it is” explained the Head of the Dog Detection Unit.

The event was closed with a speech delivered by the USAID Zambia  Economic Development Office Director, Mr. Jeremy Boley “Our coming together today represents the ongoing partnership between the American People, the Zambia Government, implementing partners and local leadership to protect one of Zambia’s most valuable natural resources, its wildlife. This new vehicle being provided to the Conservation Lower Zambezi Detection and Tracking Unit will help in the fight against wildlife poaching and the procurement and sale of illegal game or bush meat.”

Since beginning last year, the Dog Detection Unit has already achieved amazing success. At a recent checkpoint, the unit uncovered an AK-47 firearm, bush meat, and illegal copper.

Building on the early successes of the Dog Detection Unit, this new and modified Toyota Land Cruiser will help Conservation Lower Zambezi and the Department of National Parks and Wildlife to expand the scope and efficiency of their operations to combat wildlife crime and stop poaching.

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

Photo Credits: BCP and CLZ

Zambian Safari Lodges Take Carbon Neutrality to New Heights!

Last year the Lower Zambezi National Park became the first park in the world to go carbon neutral from operations thanks to support from local tour operators. In an effort to reduce their own company’s emissions as well as to reduce emissions associated with the entire national park, camps and lodges located within the Lower Zambezi ecosystem purchased Forest Carbon Offsets from the Lower Zambezi REDD+ Project supported through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) funded Community Forests Program, implemented by BCP.

 

This year the Cumings family, who operate Chiawa and Old Mondoro Camps, have upped their offsetting game – going from ‘Copper’ offsetters to ‘Silver’.  Now they not only purchase offsets to cover their operations on the ground, but they are also covering guests offsets from the air, including emissions from all domestic flights.

By offsetting 1,200 tonnes of carbon emissions, Chiawa Camp and Old Mondoro are protecting an estimated 403 hectares of Zambian forest (approximately 3,228 trees), and removing enough CO2 from the atmosphere to be equivalent to taking 215 cars off the road for a year.

 

As Grant Cumings, the Managing Director of the camps, expressed: “I am proud that Chiawa Camp and Old Mondoro are leading the world in this initiative and have continued to up their carbon neutrality. Aside from guaranteeing to protect enough trees to mop up the carbon from all our tourism and activities, the northern frontier of the Lower Zambezi National Park is being protected, meaning vulnerable populations of fauna and flora are being sustained some distance from our area of operation. Therefore, the benefits of our model of responsible tourism are being enjoyed not only locally but further afield. This would not have been possible without BCP’s pioneering efforts which we are proud to be a part of.”

 

In fact, Grant and his team decided to go over and above their `Silver` status by purchasing an additional 190 tons of offsets to enable the Lower Zambezi National Park to maintain its carbon neutrality from operations for 2016, an initiative which started last year.

 

Serious thanks go out to Grant and his team`s at Chiawa and Old Mondoro camps for their significant contribution to carbon neutrality in the Lower Zambezi for these two years. We would also like to recognize and thank the numerous other camps and lodges who helped to make the Lower Zambezi National Park carbon neutral from operations this year.

 

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.

Photo Credits: BCP

Zambian National Park Hits Global Milestone for the Second Year

For the second year in a row, the Lower Zambezi National Park has gone carbon neutral from operations. This continued commitment from Zambian tourism operators to reduce their carbon footprint highlights the importance of protecting the environment for wildlife, people and for future generations.

 

Starting in the year 2015, the Lower Zambezi National Park became the first National Park in the world to go carbon neutral from operations, Zambia has shown that it continues to be a leader in forest conservation and mitigating climate change.

 

A national park that is “carbon neutral from operations” has offset its emissions from tourism and conservation operations. For emissions that cannot be avoided (such as fuel used for safari vehicles), these are balanced out through the purchase of forest carbon offsets from the Lower Zambezi REDD+ Project. The Lower Zambezi REDD+ Project is funded through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Community Forests Program, implemented by BCP.

For the second year, Zambian tourism lodges located both inside and outside of the Lower Zambezi  National Park, purchased offsets to cover both their own unavoidable emissions, as well as those from park management activities undertaken by the Department of National Parks and Conservation Lower Zambezi. Tourism is the world’s largest service industry and with significant energy, fuel, and food needs, this commitment by Zambian companies is significant.

 

Not only does this partnership help the Lower Zambezi National Park become carbon neutral from operations, it also has positive impacts on local communities and biodiversity. The Lower Zambezi REDD+ Project protects 60 km of the northern boundary of the National Park from poaching and deforestation threats, and improves the lives of communities around the park though increased access to education and healthcare, employment opportunities and infrastructure. All of these are made possible by revenue brought in from the sale of Forest Carbon Offsets.

 

 

The Lower Zambezi REDD+ Project carries two of the most highly recognised and respected international accreditations attainable by carbon projects. Validated and verified three times by the Verified Carbon Standard (VCS) and triple gold level validated by the Climate, Community & Biodiversity Standard (CCB).

 

As Grant Cumings, the Managing Director of Chiawa and Old Mondoro Camps, expressed: “Aside from guaranteeing to protect enough trees to mop up the carbon from all our tourism and activities, the northern frontier of the Lower Zambezi National Park is being protected [through this partnership with the Lower Zambezi REDD+ Project], meaning vulnerable populations of fauna and flora are being sustained some distance from our area of operation. Therefore, the benefits of our model of responsible tourism are being enjoyed not only locally but further afield. This would not have been possible without BCP’s pioneering efforts which we are proud to be a part of.”

 

BCP is grateful to the Tourism Operators listed below for their generous support and leadership in conservation and climate change mitigation which made the Lower Zambezi National Park carbon neutral from operations, for the second year in a row.

 

 

Tourism Partners supporting Carbon Neutrality for the Lower Zambezi National Park:

 

Chiawa and Old Mondoro Camps – The Cumings Family own and run one of Africa’s finest safari operations with their two sensational, multi-award winning camps – Chiawa Camp and Old Mondoro which pioneered safaris in Zambia’s Lower Zambezi National Park. Each of these safari camps offer an authentic experiential safari, where the focus is on the bush, the river, the wildlife, and you. Both camps offer a unique haven of warmth and hospitality, dedicated to making your safari dreams come true whilst protecting the wildlife and habitat of what has become one of Africa’s “bucket list” safari areas.

Anabezi and Amanzi Camp are very excited to work with BCP on this conservation initiative, protecting the habitat on the borders of the park is critical in protecting the areas we utilize and from which we benefit. We hope that by the Lower Zambezi National Park becoming carbon neutral from operations that we will set the benchmark for a broader type of conservation within National Parks and Wildlife areas.

 

Mwambashi River Lodge is one of the oldest camps in the Lower Zambezi and one of the safari world’s best-kept secrets. Situated in the heart of the National Park, a truly unspoiled wilderness area, Mwambashi combines comfort – cold drinks, Cordon Bleu meals and roomy en-suite tents – with the quintessential bush experience: game drives, bush walks, fishing, photo boat cruises and canoeing or enjoying a cold drink in camp watching elephants literally within touching distance.

 

Baines’ River Camp, a family owned and run safari lodge situated in the Game Management Area adjacent to the Lower Zambezi National Park, is passionate about all aspects of conservation. Whilst offering services with as little impact on this fragile ecosystem as feasibly possible, we are proud to be included in this pioneering project to offset the pressures of human impact on Zambia’s pristine natural heritage.

 

Royal Zambezi Lodge, a spacious but intimate privately owned lodge, situated in Zambia on the banks of the mighty Zambezi River just minutes from the Lower Zambezi National Park and directly opposite Zimbabwe’s famous Mana Pools World Heritage Site. Royal offers the ultimate in luxury and cuisine while enjoying and participating closely in the sights and sounds of the African wilderness.

 

Lower Zambezi REDD+ Project Implementing Partners: 

BioCarbon Partners (BCP) is an African-based and focused social enterprise, whose mission is to enhance livelihoods and conservation through verified forest conservation projects in Africa.  BCP’s current focus is implementing REDD+ projects in the greater Zambezi-Luangwa ecosystem in Zambia. BCP has certified Zambia’s first pilot REDD+ demonstration project known as the ‘Lower Zambezi REDD+ Project’ to CCB triple gold standards (validation) and VCS verification; the first project in Africa with these certifications.

Community Forests Program

In addition, BCP is proud to partner with USAID to implement the Community Forests Program. This innovative program targets the verification of 700,000 hectares of threatened forests across in Luangwa Valley ecosystem. BCP’s local presence, concentration on African dryland forests and intense focus on community livelihoods and conservation are the foundations of our operational strategy.

The United States Agency for International Development (USAID)  is the lead U.S. Government agency working around the world to end extreme poverty and enable resilient, democratic societies to realize their potential.  When crisis strikes; when rights are repressed; when hunger, disease, and poverty rob people of opportunity; USAID acts on behalf of the American People to help expand the reach of prosperity and dignity to the world’s most vulnerable.  In order to support these goals, President John. F. Kennedy created the United States Agency for International Development by executive order in 1961.  Currently active in over 100 countries worldwide, USAID was born out of a spirit of progress and innovation, reflecting American values and character, and motivated by a fundamental belief in doing the right thing. .

The Department of National Parks and Wildlife formerly known as Zambia Wildlife Authority is mandated under the Zambia Wildlife Act No. 12 of 1998 to manage and conserve Zambia’s wildlife; its national parks and game management areas, which cover 31 percent of the country’s land mass. Department of National Parks and Wildlife endeavours to integrate the wildlife policy with economic, environmental and social policies to ensure effective contribution to sustainable national development. BCP and Department of National Parks and Wildlife collaborate closely in development and implementation of its REDD+ areas as those often are in ecosystems adjacent or including protected areas.

Conservation Lower Zambezi is a Zambian non-profit organisation committed to the conservation and sustainable use of the local wildlife and natural resources of the Lower Zambezi. Conservation Lower Zambezi focuses on three areas of work: a) wildlife protection – assisting the Department of National Parks and Wildlife anti-poaching patrol deployments and training as well as supporting a local Community Resource Board Village Scout unit; b) environmental education through outreach in schools and visits to our Conservation Lower Zambezi environmental education centre; and c) supporting local community development projects, especially human wildlife conflict mitigation. Conservation Lower Zambezi operates in the same ecosystem as BCP and the two entities have been collaborating on law enforcement and management of the area.

 

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

Photo Credits: BCP and CLZ

Growing Trees and Lives for Farmers in Rufunsa

With grayish bark, and small dark oval leaves, the Faidherbia Albida tree, more commonly known as Musangu, an indigenous tree in Zambia. Rural farmers in Zambia know it as the “fertilizer tree.” Unlike many trees whose leaves grow back during the rainy season, Musangu, instead loses its nutrient rich leaves at the start of the rainy season in December. When the leaves fall to the ground, rhizobium bacteria living in the roots of the tree break down the leaves adding nitrogen to the soil. Farmers can plant their crops, like maize, under the Musangu trees, and naturally fertilize their fields.

Musangu is just one of the many trees species grown by the Forestry Department at their tree nursery in Chinyunyu, in Rufunsa District, located an hour and a half from Zambia`s capital city, Lusaka. This nursery was created to grow trees that will be used to replace the forest that has been cut down, while also providing nitrogen-fixing trees to help local farmers improve soil fertility to grow crops.

 

Started in 1989, the nursery has become popular within the local community, with a high demand for trees. So much so, that in early 2016 the Forestry Department requested assistance to expand its original nursery, in order to meet this growing demand. Within the same year, BCP was able to facilitate this support, as part of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID)-funded Community Forests Program.

 

Expansion of the Chinyunyu Nursery began in June of 2016, with the USAID Community Forests Program implemented by BCP, providing $7,000 for seed collection, the establishment of seedlings, and the renovation of the nursery. The upgraded nursery will allow the Forestry Department to greatly support and expand tree planting activities in Rufunsa District.

“We have done a number of tree planting activities with BCP. We requested BCP to help with expanding our nursery because we want to maximize the growth of trees to mitigate climate change and promote more tree planting because there is too much deforestation going on in Rufunsa. We already have a lot of farmers who have registered with the Department to collect seedlings and we will also be distributing trees to local schools” explained Mrs. Grace Daka, the District Forestry Officer from the Forestry Department in Rufunsa.

 

As a result of the support from the USAID-funded Community Forests Program implemented by BCP, the nursery’s size has grown, extending the nursery’s grass fence from 35 meters by 35 meters to 35meters by 65 meters, almost doubling its size. This extra space has enabled the nursery to house up to 120,000 seedlings and increase the variety of trees grown. Nursery seedlings now include fruit trees like Guava, Lemons, Peaches and trees like Jacaranda, Mulombe and Khaya nyasica. Additionally, the Forestry Department plans to introduce Grevillea trees, which are popular in East Africa as both a renewable source of timber and its ability to help restore and naturally fertilize soil. To make a modern nursery, other items provided by BCP under the Community Forests Program included fencing materials, polythene pots, and payment of logistics to contractors for labor and transportation.

 The Forestry Department staff run the nursery efficiently, collecting seeds in the forests, preparing plastic containers with soil and growing seedlings; Germination is rapid. Seedlings take one to three months to grow large enough to be distributed to local farmers for planting in their fields.

 

Already the expanded tree nursery expansion is beginning to pay off. Since works were completed in December 2016, over 100 local famers have been able to access trees for agriculture purposes. Mr. Muhau, a farmer from nearby Ndubula village, is one of the new beneficiaries, who already sees the value of trees and is able to plant Musangu, Moringa and Gliricidia. As he explains, “I get my seedlings from the nursery at the Forestry Department to help me grow my crops and keep the field fertilized. Currently I am also selling Moringa powder at the market and its giving me some income to take care of my family.”

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.

 

Mpanshya CRB Elections Supported Under CFP

Governance is critical to community-based work and forest protection under REDD+.

In May, under the USAID-funded Community Forests Program (CFP), BCP facilitated elections for the Community Resource Board (CRB) elections in Mpanshya Chiefdom, Rufunsa District. Technical, logistical (transportation) and financial support was provided to the Zambia Wildlife Authority (ZAWA), as the Government agency responsible for CRBs, in order to make these elections possible.

The elections process lasted 10 days, and was aimed at facilitating representative and fair elections of new CRB representatives from the Chiefdom, after CRBs had been disbanded earlier this year.

Since 2013, ZAWA has embarked on a process of restructuring community institutions, such as CRBs, with the aim of strengthening their governance capacity and promoting community ownership and sustainable management of wildlife.

In Zambia, CRBs are community-based democratically elected institutions that work with ZAWA to conserve wildlife resources in Game Management Areas, as well as open areas. As part of this, Village Scouts are employed through CRBs to work alongside ZAWA Wildlife Police Officers to monitor and protect wildlife and other natural resources.

 

In Rufunsa, BCP is working with Village Scouts from Mpanshya CRB to monitor and protect forest resources under the Lower Zambezi REDD+ Project (LZRP). This partnership includes collaboration with ZAWA to patrol the northern boundary of the Lower Zambezi National Park, which shares a 60km boundary with the LZRP. The LZRP is implemented with support from USAID under the Community Forests Program (CFP), and in close collaboration with ZAWA and FD. Earlier this year, BCP signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with ZAWA, formalizing this partnership under the CFP.

For more information about the USAID-funded CFP, see: http://biocarbonpartners.com/united-states-supports-zambian-community-forests-program/

 

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

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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!

Introducing: Darlington Chipita, first-ever recipient of the BCP Carey Eaton Mission Award

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Mr. Darlington Chipita, first-ever recipient of the BCP Carey Eaton Mission Award (center), and Ms. Hildah Mbalazi, a runner up (left) pose after receiving their recognition.

On October 31st, BCP announced the first-ever recipient of the Carey Eaton Mission Award: Mr. Darlington Chipita.

The Carey Eaton Mission Award is intended to recognize an outstanding BCP employee up to twice a year, for demonstrating the values of BCP and embodying the spirit of Mr. Carey Eaton.  Mr. Eaton was well loved and highly valued Advisor to BCP, who played a key role in the start-up of the organization, until his untimely death in June of this year.  The award was initiated in October 2014, in honor of Mr. Eaton, and is expected to continue to be awarded to outstanding members of the BCP team on an on-going basis from now on.

 

The Legacy of Mr. Carey Eaton

Mr. Carey Eaton was a BCP Advisor from the beginning. He was born in Zambia, grew up in Kenya, and he was globally recognized as a technology pioneer in Africa.  Prior to the inception of BCP, Mr. Eaton held the position of CIO in a publically traded Australian company. He then took a risk and returned to Kenya, where he started a group of linked technology firms that soon created 600 jobs in multiple companies, built African capacity and improved markets through the mantra that “technology is the great equalizer”.

When BCP was launched in 2012, Mr. Eaton became an Advisor who volunteered extensive time and expertise to support BCP through the rigors of the start-up phase and during the development of the company. BCP is here today thanks to his support.

In June 2014, Mr. Eaton tragically passed following a violent crime in Nairobi, Kenya. He is survived by his wife and four young children.

The Carey Eaton Mission Award was launched in his honor in October 2014, and is intended to recognize BCP staff members who embody the values, commitment and spirit that Mr. Eaton brought to the start-up phase of the company.  Mr. Eaton was committed to African economic development, capacity building, teamwork, mentorship, humility and hard work. In spite of his success, he made time to coach aspiring African tech entrepreneurs. He was generous, energetic, a strategic thinker, fun, and focused. The Carey Eaton Mission Award is as much a recognition of good character, as it is recognition of actions that contribute to the overall BCP Team.

 

Inaugural Recipient: Mr. Darlington Chipita

Mr. Darlington Chipita, BCP’s Technical Officer, is the first-ever recipient of the Carey Eaton Award. Mr. Chipita was nominated for the award by a majority number of his BCP colleagues, and is granted this award with full support from the BCP Board of Directors.

Mr. Chipita was the first employee hired by BCP Zambia. He began with BCP as a Driver.  Since then, he has filled many different roles and tasks during his time with BCP.  He has participated in plot sampling with the community-based “Plot Team,” spending days and sometimes weeks taking measurements in the bush— in both the hot and dry seasons. He helped to build infrastructure at Rufunsa Conservancy, has served as a Community Engagement Manager at the LZRP, and has repeatedly filled the role of “Acting” Site Manager at Rufunsa Conservancy. As a Technical Officer, Mr. Chipita now plays an important role in expanding BCP’s activities into new areas. His diverse set of skills and experiences have prepared him to excel in one of the most dynamic positions in the company.

Mr. Chipita truly embraces the values of BCP, and this award.  He is humble, hard working and demonstrates commitment to his role and to his team. He is also one of the most trusted members of the BCP Team, and he consistently goes above and beyond expectations with grace, tolerates flexible and changing schedules, and is ready and willing to complete the task to get the job done. Mr. Chipita takes initiative, and in the spirit of Carey Eaton he works to help build up his team members. Mr. Chipita embodies BCP’s start-up culture by assuming multiple roles within the organization, while simultaneously building and supporting his team. Most importantly, Mr. Chipita embraces his work with a positive spirit.

BCP is very proud of Mr. Chipita, for his hard work and for his recognition through this award.

 

Runner-Up: Ms. Hildah Mbalazi

This first-ever cycle of nominations for the Carey Eaton Mission Award was a very competitive process, and in the process, it was agreed that one additional BCP Team member who received multiple nominations deserved special recognition for her service to BCP and positive spirit.  Ms. Hildah Mbalazi was therefore also formally recognized as the “Runner Up” to the first-ever Carey Eaton Mission Award.

Ms. Mbalazi began with BCP as an Intern in 2012. She has since been promoted to the position as a Senior Community Engagement Officer for the Lower Zambezi REDD+ Project. She exemplifies the spirit of learning, growth and commitment that we, at BCP, try to promote at all times through our projects.

 

BCP is very proud of both Ms. Mbalazi and Mr. Chipita for their hard work, outstanding service and commitment to BCP and their team members. We look forward to continuing to watch these two team members grow, and to recognize more hard-working team members through the Carey Eaton Mission Award. 

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