The Lower Zambezi REDD+ Project is the first pilot REDD+ project in Zambia. The Project Area encompasses approximately 40,000 hectares (100,000 acres) of primary Miombo forest directly adjacent to Lower Zambezi National Park (4,092 km sq.). Known as the Rufunsa Conservancy, the area strategically protects 60 kilometers of the National Park’s boundary by providing a buffer zone between the park and the communal areas, which have a growing human population and a thriving charcoal trade along the Great East Road, a major thoroughfare from Lusaka to Malawi and Mozambique. The Lower Zambezi National Park forms part of a globally significant trans-frontier conservation area that includes Mana Pools National Park in Zimbabwe, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the home of 23,000 elephants—one of Africa’s largest populations. The Lower Zambezi National Park area also provides valuable habitat for lion, wild dog, and locally threatened species such as sable, eland, and roan antelope.
The Project Zone for the Lower Zambezi REDD+ Project, which includes stakeholder communities, encompasses approximately 120,000 hectares of peri-urban community land in Lusaka Province, and includes about 1,200 households and 8,300 community residents.
Deforestation rates in the Project Zone are calculated to be 11 times higher than Zambia’s national deforestation rate, and analyses show that approximately 53 percent of Lusaka’s annual charcoal supply comes through the project’s location. The poverty rate within the project zone is estimated to be as high as 88 percent, contributing to a high rate of dependency upon charcoal production among rural-poor households that possess few income-generating alternatives. On average, almost 70 percent of total household incomes among producers is derived from charcoal production.
As the first and currently only example of VCS verifiable REDD+ activities taking place “on the ground” in Zambia, it is envisioned that the Lower Zambezi REDD+ Project will serve as a model for the implementation of additional community-based REDD+ projects in Zambia, and “lessons learned” from the LZRP will help to inform the development and implementation of a provincial and national level nested REDD+ program within Zambia, which is one of the pioneer UN-REDD Pilot Countries.
Summary of LZRP Project Activities:
- Community-based deforestation mitigation projects: BCP is working closely with local communities living within the project zone to launch and manage a suite of effective deforestation mitigation activities. These project activities are designed to reduce the “threat” of deforestation that the Project Area currently faces, by reducing local dependency on deforestation and improving local livelihoods and resiliency to the effects of climate change. BCP has over twenty different types of community-based deforestation mitigation activities planned for implementation in the Project Zone for the LZRP; we have developed our own locally-appropriate participatory Project Design and Identification Processes methodology, and we have supported the creation of innovative, hybridized local leadership and decision-making bodies—Zone Development Committees (ZDCs)—to assist with community consultation and project implementation.
- Land management: BCP’s LZRP is managing the Rufunsa Conservancy by implementing land management systems such as infrastructure, security, fire management and biodiversity monitoring. BCP aims to enhance biodiversity conservation and expand the area of protected land available to threatened species living within the Lower Zambezi ecosystem through effective land management.
- Forest Carbon Science: BCP is undertaking detailed biomass and soil assessments to quantify carbon, as well as GIS and RS analyses to assess deforestation rates. A community-based plot team has been trained to collect biomass and soils data using a smart phone based forest carbon data collection system.
Key Stakeholders: Key stakeholders in this project include The Soli Shamifwi Royal Establishment, the traditional leaders (Headmen and Headwomen) and Zone Development Committees of Ndubulula, Mweeshang’ombe, Namanongo and Chilimba community zones, Zambia Forestry Department, Zambia Wildlife Authority, Rufunsa District Council, Chongwe District Council, Sable Transport Limited and Musika Development Initiatives.
Validation and Verification against International Standards:
CCBA: BCP has achieved REDD+ validation of the Lower Zambezi REDD+ Project to the Climate, Community and Biodiversity (CCB) Standard. The project has been validated to the Gold level of the CCB Standards Second Edition for climate change adaptation and exceptional community and biodiversity benefits.
VCS: The Lower Zambezi REDD+ Project has achieved VCS verification.