In 2014, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) awarded a Cooperative Agreement to BCP to implement the Community Forests Program in Zambia. The USAID-funded Community Forests Program is the lead project under USAID’s Zambia Global Climate Change initiative. This is a five-year long, $14 million “start-up” that establishes the largest REDD+ program in the country.
The Community Forests Program operates through six primary objectives:
1. Empowering communities to work with governmental and non-governmental entities to lessen the drivers of deforestation;
2. Establishing and improving joint forest and natural resource participatory forest management plans among communities, traditional leaders, the Zambia Forestry Department, and the Department of National Parks and Wildlife;
3. Promoting and enabling innovative sustainable livelihoods for forest-dependent communities;
4. Implementing pay-for-performance and/or revenue-sharing programs based on measuring, reporting, and verification methodologies for forest conservation and carbon sequestration;
5. Providing households with the knowledge, tools, and technologies needed to shift their livelihoods to a more sustainable and profitable low-emissions pathway; and
6. Generating awareness, promoting action, and continuously engaging to dispel misconceptions among local stakeholders and national policymakers on the potential of REDD+ in Zambia.
REDD+ projects developed under the USAID-funded Community Forests Program implemented by BCP are intended to continue after 2019, bringing long term impacts to critically threatened ecosystems and local communities.
Receiving the USAID Cooperative Agreement was a significant achievement for BCP for two reasons:
1. The Community Forests Program has given BCP the opportunity to grow from an innovative pilot project protecting 39,000 hectares of forest to a fully-fledged program protecting 787,000, hectares of critically threatened forests.
2. With the success of our pilot project, the Lower Zambezi REDD+, USAID felt confident in our technical capabilities, financial responsibility and ability to effectively partner with communities and government to deliver large-scale and long-term forest protection.
The USAID Community Forests Program, implemented by BCP, is poised to protect vital forests in Zambia and work with neighbouring community members to help to improve their lives.