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.

Lions and Carbon: How REDD+ is improving Biodiversity in Zambia

Lions are in rapid decline throughout much of Africa.  According to a recent report by Panthera and WILDAID, lion populations have plunged 43% in the last 20 years.  Today, 20,000 lions (Panthera leo) remain, occupying just 8% of their historical range.  National Geographic reports that the Luangwa to Lower Zambezi ‘complex’ is one of the last ten lion strongholds in Africa.  A ‘stronghold’ is where lions have a long-term chance of survival.  The USAID-funded Community Forests Program (CFP) which BCP implements overlays the same Luangwa to Lower Zambezi geographic area.  The Luangwa ecosystem has an estimated population of 574, and the Lower Zambezi ecosystem contains an estimated 40 lions.

Lion along the Chongwe River in Chiawa GMA. The Chongwe River forms a boundary to Rufunsa Conservancy.

Lion along the Chongwe River in Chiawa GMA. The Chongwe River forms a boundary to Rufunsa Conservancy.

Large herbivores and big cats are particularly affected by escalating human-caused threats such as poaching, exploitation and habitat loss. While there is tremendous pressure on these species to survive, hope does exist. REDD+ is emerging as a tool to support wildlife conservation through protecting forest habitat, wildlife that live within these forests, and community-incentive programs. The Lower Zambezi REDD+ Project (LZRP) implements a set of community livelihood and development activities in return for help protecting Rufunsa Conservancy.  The Conservancy adds 400 square kilometres of improved conservation area in a buffer zone directly adjacent to Lower Zambezi National Park, an area 10% the size of the Park.  This is important as buffer zones to parks can often be “sinks”, not sources of lion.

When the Project started in 2012, we were lucky to see a lone Reedbuck sprinting away from 200 meters.  Throughout 2013, wildlife sightings continued to be sparse; lion had not been reported in scout patrol records in the Conservancy for over a decade; wild dog (Lycaon pictus) had not been reported at all; the last buffalo (Syncerus caffer) had been reported around Mukamba gate about 8 years previously; and the few roan and sable left were sparse, stressed and poached.  All indications pointed to a major near wildlife collapse in the Conservancy.

1In addition to major community investments, the security system was overhauled in the Conservancy.  New scouts were hired, trained and equipped, new vehicles procured, a radio repeater system put in place, and investments made into aerial surveys and a dog detection unit conducted by CLZ and DNPW.  Bush meat poaching still is a problem but in short, a small pride of four lion appear to have found their way back to the Conservancy, and are feeling more and more comfortable and secure there.  Lion roars are heard from the Management Camp regularly, and occasionally lion are seen by the Camp.  These four lion represent around 10% of the Lower Zambezi ecosystem’s overall lion population.

Some may ask, why do four lions matter?  According to a new BioScience article entitled “Saving the World’s Terrestrial Megafauna”, 59% of the world’s largest carnivores and 60% of the world’s largest herbivores are classified as threatened with extinction.  These four lion are important because lions and their prey are in such trouble, and at the start of LZRP, it was rare to see any wildlife at all.  Spectacular sightings continue to increase in the Conservancy including of iconic species like Sable (Hippotragus niger) and Roan (Hippotragus equinus).  In April, 2016 wild dogs, a critically endangered predator, were spotted near the Rufunsa Conservancy entrance gate by DNPW staff for the first time in years.  Six buffalo also moved through an area where they had not been seen in eight years.

To see whether these sightings scientifically reflect if REDD+ helps conservation or not, we teamed up with Lion Landscapes, a Kenyan-based Conservation research organization, to develop a structured community-based wildlife monitoring program in the Conservancy.  Dr. Alayne Cotterill who heads up Lion Landscapes, recently visited the Conservancy and said: “There has been a noticeable difference in wildlife numbers since the REDD+ program started. During my initial visit we saw very little wildlife, and lions were discussed as something to aim for in the future. My last visit saw almost daily signs of lions using the area; I heard them calling 3 nights out of 6, and I even had lion tracks on my tracks walking back into camp one day! It is exciting to see the Conservancy becoming a sanctuary for both lions and their prey.”

 

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.

Introducing Lego and Bar the Newest Additions to Combating Wildlife Crime in the Lower Zambezi

Throughout Africa, illegal trans-national wildlife crime is on the rise.  To counter this growing threat, conservation agencies are introducing detection dog units across African protected areas.  This new ‘technology’ has shown effective results in deterring illegal wildlife crime.

Lower Zambezi National Park is one of Zambia’s most strategic protected areas.  It forms part of a trans-frontier conservation area shared with Zimbabwe and Mozambique, containing one of Zambia’s largest elephant populations.  The Lower Zambezi National Park, surrounding Game Management Areas and Lower Zambezi REDD+ Project’s Rufunsa Conservancy cover approximately 10,000 km2.  Threats to this million hectare area are clear and stark.  The proximity of Lower Zambezi to the capital city means that increasing population combined with illegal activity pressure like poaching, encroachment, and illegal charcoal making threaten both the habitat and wildlife populations.  Conservation Lower Zambezi (CLZ), in partnership with the Department of National Parks and Wildlife (DNPW) and BCP support regular foot patrols and aerial surveys, but this is a vast area, so the question is how to support foot patrols with more tools?

Handlers need to form a strong bond with the dogs

Handlers need to form a strong bond with the dogs

Until now, patrols have relied on the human nose, and physical searches with limited success.  Highly trained detection dogs on the other hand have the relentlessly keen ability to track and follow scents that have long gone cold to humans. These sophisticated canines have the capacity to locate a small piece of ivory or game meat in a densely packed 40ft shipping container with a capacity of 67 cubic metres; making border crossings and routine road block checks far more efficient and leading to an increase in arrests, recoveries, deterrence and information related to wildlife crime and trafficking.

Realizing the importance of a Dog Detection Unit as a tool in combating wildlife crime and poaching in the Lower Zambezi ecosystem, BCP partnered with CLZ to support DNPW in establishing a new dog unit. The establishment and operational costs for the unit are provided through the USAID-funded Community Forests Program (CFP) implemented by BCP (BioCarbon Partners). This sub grant of US$150,000.00 includes a new modified Toyota Land Cruiser that will be used by the dog unit for special operations, making it an entirely independent unit that can randomly deploy across the highways and disrupt wildlife criminal chains.  Funds from this same grant will pay the salaries of the four dog handlers for the first 2 years.

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Lego and Bar’s keen sense of smell help scouts track illegal activities in Lower Zambezi

Lego and Bar are two detection and tracking dogs. These German Shepherds were born and bred in Holland – and arrived in the Lower Zambezi on April 24 along with specialist dog trainers Jay Crafter and Mike Hensman from Invictus K9. Nine potential handlers were assessed over a week for specific qualities – physical fitness, memory, integrity, teamwork, leadership, ability to communicate and function under pressure, and importantly empathy toward animals and their ability build a relationship with Lego and Bar. Two primary handlers were chosen, Sheleni Phiri (a CLZ Village Scout since 2013) and CLZ’s, Peter Tembo, who started with CLZ in 2011 as kitchen/camp assistant and has since risen to Operations Assistant. The secondary handlers are Christopher Sheleni and Adamson Phiri, both formally employed under CLZ’s Village Scout unit. The four on them will have completed an intense and challenging 3 month training period by the end of July 2016, the first step to becoming expert dog handlers.

In addition to Lego and Bar, a 13-week old puppy, named Fury and selected from one of the local villages has been undergoing training to become a tracking and detection dog.  This relatively new and slightly experimental process, time will show if it’s possible to successfully train Fury to perform the same duties Lego and Bar will be fulfilling in the field. Dogs from local villages have a strong immunity against diseases and illness found in Zambia, and are better adapted toward coping with the heat in Zambia. A few weeks in and Fury is already picking up scents!

We are proud to be supporting DNPW and CLZ in the development of this important new tool to reduce wildlife crime in the Lower Zambezi ecosystem.  We look forward to sharing more information about the progress of the Dog Detection Unit in future as the program develops.

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The young puppy, Fury, learns commands

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.

A Brighter and Healthier Future Through Clean Water in Nsefu Chiefdom

For the rural communities living in Nsefu Chiefdom, a hot and dry valley in the Luangwa ecosystem, accessing clean and safe drinking water is a challenge.  Balancing plastic buckets on their heads, women will sometimes walk several kilometers to collect water, but the water they access may not always be safe, coming from open and exposed water sources.

A well in the last stages of rehabilitation and capping in Noah Village

A well in the last stages of rehabilitation and capping in Noah Village, Nsefu Chiefdom.

Through the USAID-funded Community Forests Program (CFP), BCP has begun partnering with local communities in Eastern Province to develop community-led REDD+ projects to protect forests and deliver key impacts based on community needs. The CFP is currently working in 8 Chiefdoms in Eastern Province to identify areas of intact forest for conservation, as well as to implement initial “Partnership Impact Projects,” which are designed to meet critical development needs of local communities. Partnership Impact Projects are intended to demonstrate initial goodwill and commitment from the project, in advance of signing forest protection agreements between communities and government concerning the protection of designated REDD+ areas.

In the case of Nsefu Chiefdom, the community determined that access to safe and clean drinking water is one of their top development needs, and they therefore requested for assistance with the delivery of clean water infrastructure as their initial Partnership Impact Projects through the CFP.

In Kabela Village the community is very happy to have a safe a clean source of water.

In Kabela Village, Nsefu Chiefdom, the community is very happy to have a safe and clean source of water.

On April 28th 2016, the first well was rehabilitated and capped in Noah Village.  Over the course of the next month, 4 more wells were capped and rehabilitated across the Nsefu Chiefdom, totaling an estimated value of 4,500 USD.  Community members, especially women who had to previously walk long distances, were excited about this development.

Jeliat Phiri from Noah Village remarked, “In the past we had to walk through five villages which took at least 30 minutes to access water from the nearest well. Now other villages are also coming here to our neighborhood to fetch water! Having a borehole in my home-village has helped me to have more time to take care of my child and other household chores. It is less stressful now that I even have time to relax!”

In Mwangazi Village, Estele Phiri explained, “My village did not have sufficient clean water before the boreholes, now both my village and other nearby villages will benefit hugely from this new water supply.’’

The Headman from Noah Village applauded this project with BCP, hailing it as an improvement to health and sanitation in the area, and an advancement for the women of the community who previously spent much of their day fetching water.

BCP will continue to support the Nsefu Chiefdom through additional Partnership Impact Projects that will bring about positive impacts on both the local community and the local forest.

Woman are already using the well being rehabilitated in Kamukuzi Village

A woman already using the well being rehabilitated in Kamukuzi Village.  This new rehabilitated well lets her access clean water and saves her time from having to walk long distances to access water.

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.

BCP Sells Forest Carbon Offsets to BP Target Neutral, Supporting African Communities

Elephants in Lower Zambezi

BioCarbon Group, BCP, and First Climate are pleased to announce a significant multi-year transaction of Forest Carbon Offsets (also known as Verified Carbon Reductions)  from a transformational community forestry project in Zambia. The purchase of the carbon offsets by BP Target Neutral will enable the Lower Zambezi REDD+ Project to continue to implement and scale up work, improving the lives of farming communities in Zambia, in South-Eastern Africa.

The project engages more than 8,300 local community members to improve land-use practices and conserve forests and wildlife. It ensures the conservation of 39,000 hectares of valuable Miombo forest, creating a vital buffer for Lower Zambezi National Park, as part of a trans-frontier conservation area of global significance that is home to 23,000 elephants. The project area also provides valuable habitat for threatened species such as lions, ground hornbill and sable and roan antelopes. Threatened animal species are now returning to the forest, which is linked to a UNESCO World Heritage site.

_MG_0529Income levels in the project zone have historically been extremely low, and Zambia itself is a UN-designated Least Developed Country. To earn a living, local communities depend on charcoal production and in efficient farming practices, both of which put significant pressure on shrinking forest resources. The project directly tackles the poverty-driven causes of deforestation. It does so, for example, by improving agricultural practices, boosting yields while conserving soils and diversifying production. The project also supports the establishment of village-based agro-businesses, such as poultry and honey. Furthermore, communities are now successfully producing “eco-charcoal” from sustainably managed community forests. All these activities directly support local incomes. In addition, the project directly supports local schools and healthcare and improves access to drinking water. Since inception, the project has provided approximately 50% of all clean drinking water supplies across the entire project community zone, and this figure continues to grow.

“We are proud of this sale to BP Target Neutral, and very happy they are supporting the exceptional environmental and development benefits this project is creating,” says Jason Patrick, Managing Director of BioCarbon Group.

“We have worked hard to very actively engage communities in designing alternatives to land-use practices that drive deforestation,” explains Dr Hassan Sachedina, Managing Director of BCP. “The success of our intensive and focused community approach is evidenced through triple Gold validation under the Climate Community and Biodiversity Alliance Standard; the first project in Africa to achieve this level of recognition.”

P1060661Dr Jochen Gassner, Director of First Climate, adds: “As a provider of climate neutral services, we have been working together with BP Target Neutral for many years now. It has always been a great pleasure to support our partner’s environmental, socio-economic and social commitment all around the world with high-quality and multi-benefit projects such as the Lower Zambezi Community Forestry Project.”

Further details about this project can be found on the VCS website

BioCarbon Group

BioCarbon Group Pte Ltd is a leading international investor in land based carbon mitigation activities that offer transformational environmental and development benefits. With projects located in Africa, Asia, Australia and Latin America, BioCarbon works with experienced local project partners. Its shareholders are Global Forest Partners LP, the International Finance Corporation (IFC), a member of the World Bank Group, and Macquarie Bank. www.biocarbongroup.com

BCP

BioCarbon Partners (BCP) is a leading African-based and majority African citizen owned forest carbon social enterprise. BCP’s mission is to make African forests valuable to people. BCP’s focuses on dry-land forest conservation projects in globally significant biodiversity landscapes in Africa. BCP combines an entrepreneurial approach with a core philosophy of caring for people and environments to catalyze landscape-scale, community-based market driven solutions to deforestation. www.biocarbonpartners.com

First Climate

For over 15 years, first Climate has advised companies, governments and international organizations on various aspects of their climate protection and water management strategies. With more than 500 large- and medium-sized clients to date, First Climate counts as one of the leading providers of climate protection, green energy and water management services worldwide. www.firstclimate-climateneutral.com

For information please contact:

Jason Patrick, BioCarbon Group, Email: jpatrick@biocarbongroup.com

Hassan Sachedina, BCP, Email: hassan@biocarbonpartners.com

Jochen Gassner, First Climate, Email: jochen.gassner@firstclimate.com

To read the press statement please download PDF here.

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.

Mwanya Chiefdom Sails Toward its Future

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The Chief Representative giving a speech

Imagine that you live in a small remote village in Zambia.  For four months every year the river swells with water from the rains further north.  You cannot access the other side to go to school, or visit the clinic when you’re sick, without the risk of being attacked by crocodiles who prowl the water.

 

This is a very real situation for the villages in the Mwanya Chiefdom. Every year from December to April, the Lukusuzi River, a subsidiary of the Luangwa River, rises, breaking the connection that local villages have to education and healthcare. When the waters rise and the footpath across become inaccessible, only an adventurous few are willing to venture across the water. Those who do cross the river during flood, build makeshift rafts or swim, but risk getting attacked by crocodiles.

 

For a long time, Mwanya Chiefdom has needed a boat to cross the river when it floods.  

 

On May 18th, BCP delivered a boat to Mwanya Chiefdom. The boat — “Mwase Wa Minga,” named for the first Chief of Mwanya Chiefdom — is one of three Partnership Projects that BCP is funding in Mwanya Chiefdom, under the USAID-funded Community Forests Program (CFP). The boat was handed over to the community during a public ceremony that was officiated by the Lundazi District Commissioner, and which was attended by numerous government representatives, as well as representatives from BCP and USAID. Two hundred people were in attendance, including many local school children, who were celebrating the fact that they would no longer have to cross the river by foot when it floods, or miss classes due to high waters.

 

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The District Commissioner, and a representative from USAID and BCP cutting the ribbon

For miles around the community came and gathered at  the banks of the river, where the boat launch was held. The event started off with the national anthem, followed by singing and dancing, and speeches given by BCP, the Chief Representative, and the District Commissioner. During her speech, the District Commissioner praised the partnership that has formed between Mwayna community, BCP, and the government, to deliver community needs and to promote local natural resource conservation, under the USAID-funded CFP. As she said: “BCP under the CFP has engaged the government, traditional authority, and the entire community. This has made them very visible in the district and more specifically it’s importance to Mwanya Chiefdom. This incentive we are witnessing today must be commended. The CFP has procured a boat to facilitate the crossing of the Lukusuzi River. […] I am aware that we have recorded a number of of fatalities and incidents at the Lukusuzi crossing point and a boat needs to be used during the rainy season.  My office is aware that this is an important crossing point because it’s the only route out of Mwanya during the rainy season. I’m very pleased and glad to see this boat […] Mwanya Chiefdom has a lot of needs and it is my hope that the CFP, with funding from USAID, will go a long way toward improving the community once an agreement has been signed by the community, government, and BCP to protect the forest.”

 

Along with the speeches, students from the local school performed a play about a young boy trying to get to school and a young pregnant woman who was unable to reach a clinic.  While the play elicited laughter from the crowd, it still provided a reminder of what has, up to now, been a very real concern and reality for local communities who are regularly isolated by the river. In attendance at the event, Mrs. Abbia Daka, the acting deputy teacher at Mwanya School, stood beaming and surrounded by her students. Praising the launch of the boat, she said: “In March there was just a recent case of an attack. Children were afraid to cross and they stopped their education. Now this boat will take them to the other side so they can attend and get an education from the fifth through twelfth grade.’’   

 

IMG_2450 retouchThanks to this boat, during the next rainy season, villagers in Mwanya will be able to safely cross the Lukusuzi, children will be able to go to school and the sick will be able to access the clinic.

 

The USAID-funded Community Forests Program (CFP) is now working in Mwanya Chiefdom as well as 8 other Chiefdoms in Eastern Province to develop community-led REDD+ projects, by partnering with local villages to protect intact forest, and delivering impacts based on community needs. Partnership Projects are an initial step of demonstrating goodwill and commitment from the project, in advance of signing forest protection agreements between communities and government. In Mwanya Chiefdom, other partnership projects that are being delivered by BCP under the CFP include delivery of furniture to Yakobe Clinic and assistance with the construction of a maternity shelter for Mkasanga Clinic. These projects are estimated to be completed in upcoming months, through BCP support and community and government facilitation.

 

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.

The World (and BCP) Look Toward the Paris Climate Agreement

The BCP Office in Mfuwe with the installed solar panels

The BCP Office in Mfuwe with the installed solar panels

Climate change is a critical issue affecting our world today. On April 22nd 2016, ”Earth Day”, a global event dedicated to environmental protection, was also historic, as global leaders from 175 governments met at the UN headquarters in New York, to begin signing the Paris Climate Agreement.  This event marks the first step towards binding countries to the promises they made to cut greenhouse gas emissions just 4 months earlier at the Paris COP21. “The era of consumption without consequences is over,” UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said. “We must intensify efforts to decarbonize our economies. And we must support developing countries in making this transition.”

 

The Paris Climate Deal’s main objective is to limit the temperature increase to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels. Any rise past 1.5°C marks the point of no return and will have drastic effects on the world’s climate. The Paris deal intends to achieve long-term global goals for net zero emissions and countries have promised to try to bring global emissions down from peak levels.  Experts say that with these pledges we can reach net zero emissions by 2050.

 

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry applauded the power of the agreement to “unleash the private sector” and send a signal to global markets that renewable energy and infrastructure are smart investments. Later, when officially signing the agreement, Kerry brought his granddaughter with him to the stage — a representational move no doubt meant to remind everyone that climate change is not only a reality for us today but a necessity for tomorrow.

 

Climate change is already having a significant impact on the world.  A recent report was released that stated that one of the Natural Wonders of the World, the Great Barrier Reef, has experienced unprecedented coral bleaching that affects 93% of the reef, and caused by the rising water temperatures.  In Zambia we are experiencing one of the worst droughts in recent memory.  The Kariba Dam, which produces power for most of the country, is at its lowest in years, and has led to rolling blackouts affecting the entire country.  Additionally, rural farmers, whose livelihood depends on the seasons, have experienced difficulty in growing stable crops to feed their families.

 

The documentation retiring BCP's Forests Carbon Offsets from circulation

The documentation retiring BCP’s Forests Carbon Offsets from circulation

Against the backdrop of the New York Climate Agreement signing, BCP wanted to share that as a Company we are 100% carbon neutral, as we feel it`s essential to be leading by example, and walking the walk.  We’re excited about the fact that all our electricity use is now from renewable sources. Zambia’s electricity grid is primarily hydropower, and four of our five offices are now equipped with solar arrays as back up systems.  Our fifth office in Nyimba is soon to be solar equipped.  An additional step to reduce our carbon footprint is that we are disposing of older vehicles and have procured a fleet of newer, more efficient vehicles.  For BCP’s unavoidable emissions we are carbon neutral from the voluntary retirement of forest carbon offsets from the Lower Zambezi REDD+ Project which we implement.   These offsets were retired permanently from circulation with assistance from project partner, BioCarbon Group.  As an African Company, we hope more American and European companies will join our example of investing in renewables, more efficient vehicles and forest carbon offsets for unavoidable emissions.

 

For more information on how you can purchase Forest Carbon Offsets through our Lower Zambezi REDD+ Project visit the Stand For Trees website, or contact our Sales, Marketing, and Communications Manager, Andrea McWilliam at 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.

 

Students Celebrate Special Environmental Education Day with Music, Dance, and Leaning!

About two hours outside of Lusaka, and down a muddy dirt road filled with holes and bumps, lie two schools, Namanongo and Ndubulua. At these rural schools most days are quiet, but on March 30th, the atmosphere was buzzing with a sense of excitement, as students and teachers prepared to participate in a Special Environmental Education Day (SEED).

 

Department of National Parks and Wildlife Services representive talks to sixth graders at Ndubulula School about different types wildlife and their role in the ecosystem

The Department of National Parks and Wildlife Services representative talks to Grade Six students at Ndubulula School about different types wildlife and their role in the ecosystem

In the project area for the Lower Zambezi REDD+ Project (LZRP) – Zambia’s first verified REDD+ project – BCP is supporting the Environmental Education Program in four schools, including Ndubulula and Namanongo, as well as two other community schools in Mweeshang’ombe and Chilimba. The Environmental Education Program is implemented with funding from USAID under the Community Forests Program (CFP), and is one of the many livelihood activities taking place in the local communities around LZRP in the Rufunsa District.

 

The Environmental Education Program is a year-long program targeted for Grade Six students, following a curriculum that provides weekly classes, as well as interactive activities and events, such as quarterly SEED days, where students, teachers and schools can showcase their learning. The Environmental Education Program curriculum is based on the Lolesha Luangwa Conservation Education Programme implemented by the Frankfurt Zoological Society as part of the North Luangwa Conservation Project.

 

SEEDs are intended to give participating students, teachers, and schools the opportunity to showcase their environmental learning and celebrate environmental education through exciting, hands-on activities involving the wider community and partners. For this particular SEED event in March, representatives from BCP, the Forestry Department, and the Department of National Parks and Wildlife Services attended, and gave presentations that added their perspectives about the importance of forests, wildlife, and their work with BCP.

 

At Ndubulula School, the sixth grade students who are part of the Environmental Education Program appeared nervous but excited with the arrival of the visitors. They sat at their desks in smart blue uniforms and giggled anxiously. The classroom was filled with posters that depicted the water cycle and listed reasons why forests are important. Younger students crowded outside the windows of the classroom and peeked in excitedly to see the program. The sixth graders, initially hesitant and shy, came alive after introductions and broke into a song welcoming BCP and their partners. Three students gave a presentation on people’s roles in protecting the forest. They listed several different reasons why forests are important, including being part of the water cycle, food sources from the fruit growing on trees, and helping to keep the land fertile. After the presentations from the Government partners, students asked lots of good questions, and then the class broke out into traditional song and dance.

The representative from the Forestry Department talks to students at Namanongo School about the importance of forests

 

After winding up at Ndubulula School, the BCP team spent the rest of the afternoon at Namanongo School. Here, the entire school, grades one through seven, gathered for the SEED program! The students and teachers collected desks and chairs and sat under a large tree in the schoolyard. After introductions and presentations made by the Forestry Department and the Department of National Parks and Wildlife Services, the sixth graders underwent a short quiz on what they had learned, so far, from the Environmental Education Program. They were asked several questions including three causes of deforestation, what a reptile is, and what conservation agriculture is. This was followed by a skit about poachers hunting animals in the national park and then being tracked and apprehended by scouts from the Department of National Parks and Wildlife Services. The program ended with students singing and performing traditional dancing.

 

Mrs. Blessings Mwabi, one of the Environmental Education Program teachers at Ndubulula, says that students at the start of the program asked; “Why, should we conserve the forests?” But over time she described that: “The program offers a lot of explanations and sensitizations about the forests, and here it is very much destroyed, but now they [the students] know the importance of saving the forests. I’m able to really see how the pupils as learners are interested in their land, their forests, and conserving it.” She further explained that sometimes it’s difficult for communities to understand the importance of forests when they sell charcoal to make money, but these students now have the knowledge to go home and talk to their parents about conservation and forest protection.

 

The next SEED program is scheduled to take place in late June or early July.

Sixth graders at Namanongo school open the SEED program with a song and dance about BCP

Grade Six studnets at Ndubulula school open the SEED program with a song and dance about BCP

Sixth graders at Namanongo school drew pictures about what they learned in the Environmental Education Program.  These pictures were displayed during the SEED program

Grade Six students at Namanongo school drew pictures about what they learned in the Environmental Education Program. These pictures were displayed during the SEED program.

Students at Namanongo School ending the SEED program with a traditional dance called Nyau

Students at Namanongo School ended the SEED program with a traditional dance called Nyau

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.

BCP Donates 30 Tents to the Department of National Parks and Wildlife

BCP Donates 30 Tents and Printer to the Department of National Parks and Wildlife (DNPW)

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BioCarbon Partners (BCP), through the USAID funded, Community Forests Program (CFP), continues to offer technical support to the Department of National Parks and Wildlife (DNPW), formerly known as the Zambia Wildlife Authority (ZAWA). Earlier this year, BCP donated 30 tents and a printer (at an estimated cost of 5,000 USD) to provide operational support to DNPW at their newly established District level offices in Chongwe.

DPNW works to protect, conserve, and manage Zambia’s wildlife parks by promoting integrated and participatory approaches to wildlife management, especially in Zambia’s Game Management Areas (GMAs), and to reduce conflicts between humans and wildlife.

BCP was approached by DNPW to see whether they could offer some technical support in the form of 30 tents (accommodating 2 people each) for DNPW scouts operating in Chongwe. These scouts are operating in Chongwe, Rufunsa, and the Lower Zambezi National Park (LZNP), where BCP is also implementing the Lower Zambezi REDD+ project (LZRP).  DNPW has been an integral part of the conservation strategy in the Lower Zambezi ecosystem.

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DNPW scouts in action

BCP has been supporting DNPW in the field by providing logistical support such as food and other technical help for field operations in the Lower Zambezi National Park. DNPW is assisting BCP by providing senior scouts to accompany BCP village scouts while conducting patrols in the Rufunsa Conservancy and LZNP.

Senior Wildlife Warden of DNPW, Kenneth Namunino Nyambe, listed numerous challenges in setting up the newly established Regional Office including: transport, inadequate operational supplies, and lack of gear for the scouts to use on patrols.  “In view of the above challenges, BioCarbon Partners came to our aid with the donation of electronics and operational materials. These were donations of thirty by two camping tents for rainy season operations, three laptops, three desktop computers and laser jet printer that the institution was able to procure to effectively manage the regional office administratively. This gesture by BioCarbon Partners has boosted the morale in our officers which has subsequently increased performance, as for the Wildlife Police officers, they can now be deployed for rain season operation without any hesitation.” Explained Mr Nyambe

In addition to this most recent support, last year, BCP/CFP, donated six computers (3 laptops and 3 desktops) to DNPW.

 

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.