Luangwa ecosystem is one of the last great conservation landscapes in Africa. The Luangwa Valley ecosystem harbors globally significant wildlife numbers, including Zambia’s only black rhino population and its most stable elephant population. It is a key component of the Luangwa-Zambezi hydrological system and delivers crucial ecosystem services nationally and internationally.
However, the ecosystem is under threat from unsustainable natural resource management and deforestation. Zambia is reported to experience the highest amount of annual deforestation by land cover of any country in Africa, estimated at up to 300,000 hectares per annum. Eastern Province (where a significant portion of the Luangwa Valley occurs) has one of the higher deforestation rates in Zambia, thus targeting community-based deforestation mitigation interventions in this area is strategic.
BCP believes that there is significant opportunity for REDD+ to catalyze poverty reduction and enhanced conservation in the Luangwa Valley, and is proud to partner with USAID/ZAMBIA in the implementation of an innovative solution to develop and verify a minimum of 700,000 hectares (ha) of forest across three Provinces (Eastern, Muchinga, Lusaka), and to sustain long-term community-based REDD+ benefits through the Community Forests Program (CFP).
The CFP is a five-year Cooperative Agreement that aims to establish REDD+ project areas across the Zambezi and Luangwa Valley ecosystems, and in so doing, to support deforestation mitigation activities and enterprises taking place on a total of up to 2 million hectares, involving up to 10,000 households. BCP is implementing the CFP, in close partnership with the Zambian Forestry Department (FD) and Zambian Wildlife Authority (ZAWA).
USAID’s catalytic investment into this program is intended to serve partly as an incubator of an innovative idea, but also to lower the actual barriers to private sector led investments into the types of business opportunities which generate widespread economic, social and environmental benefits.
The implementation period for the CFP is five years, beginning from mid-2014. The program provides five years of start-up financing to support the establishment of REDD+ Projects in the Zambezi and Luangwa Valley ecosystems. It is our aim for REDD+ projects established under the CFP to be verified and self-financing through a sustainable business model based on the sale of Verified Emissions Reductions (VERs) and other sustainably produced products by 2019.
BCP is concentrating on establishing the following REDD+ Sites:
Eastern Province (Phase 1).
- Nyimba District – there may be up to 300,000 available for REDD+ implementation in West Petauke Game Management Area (GMA), in Luembe Chiefdom.
- Mfuwe/Lupande area, and includes potential REDD+ forests from seven (7) Chiefdoms in Mambwe and Lundazi Districts. BCP has received letters of support from all seven Chiefdoms, and six chiefdoms have initially mapped areas totaling approximately 280,000 hectares for REDD+ implementation. These areas could include also portions of Game Management Areas and Forest Reserves.
Muchinga Province (Phase 2)
- Upon completing the selection of the sites in Phase 1, BCP plans to focus on additional areas in the Northern Luangwa Valley (especially in Muchinga Province), where additional 800,000 hectares could be added to CFP. Site identification and selection work is planned to begin in mid-2016.
In second half of 2015, BCP’s field-based Technical Team members are fast-tracking Viability Assessment activities for these potential new REDD+ areas in Eastern Province, including: participatory forest demarcations to confirm allocated forest area boundaries, stakeholder engagement and consultation according to the principles of Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC), forest biomass calculations, carbon accounting and collaborative development of REDD+ management plans involving all key stakeholders. It is our aim to have signed a REDD+ implementation agreement for at least one new REDD+ project area in the Eastern Province by the end of 2015, and to begin verification activities for this new site in 2016.
CFP / Luangwa REDD+ Project involves key stakeholders such as local communities and traditional authorities, District Councils, and government agencies. BCP works very closely with all the stakeholders in the region (ZAWA, FD, COMACO, Districts, and Chiefdoms) to assure that its program activities fit within the overall landscape management approach and transboundary conservation activities. This initial project area forms part of a strategy to feed into a jurisdictional and nested REDD+ approach that seeks to form part of a future national REDD+ program within Zambia.