This forest conservation project is aimed at providing sustainable livelihood opportunities for poor communities in Northern Zimbabwe, a region now suffering heavily from deforestation, poverty, and drought.
CGA has secured sole mandate agreements with the four Rural District Councils (RDC’s), namely Binga Rural District Council, Hurungwe Rural District Council, Mbire Rural District Councit and Nyaminyami Rural District Council who own the land in question in addition to signing with the Leaseholders of any of the land within the RDC area.
CGA is currently managing approximately 1.4 million hectares initially and it is envisaged that within a timeframe of 5 years, up to 2 million hectares will be under long-term management as part of the Kariba REDD+ Project.
Kariba REDD+ Project details
Feasibility studies have shown that that the forests are under great pressure from the local communities. This pressure is seen in three main forms.
Agricultural Encroachment on Forests
- Due to poor resources and knowledge, communities are cutting down vast tracts of forest in order to clear fields to plant their staple crops such as maize, sorghum etc. This agriculture is both on a subsistence and commercial level (small commercial level). The trend within such communities is to move from one field to the next at very regular intervals (1-2 years) subsequently cutting large areas of forest down for the new fields. Our feasibility study showed areas that are demarcated for this year’s clearing and it became obvious the area of ground that can be lost to this practice and the speed in which this can happen. As a result of this practice, deforestation levels in the area are particularly high (1.30% per year) and agricultural encroachment is the primary driver.
- There are several methods by which CGI aims to reduce the deforestation as a result of this agricultural encroachment. However for most of the community, agriculture is their culture, livelihood and provides their staple diet and in some cases income. Hence alternatives have to be provided to the communities, and working in a close and sensitive manner with them is the key to success.
- Education of techniques that will increase their productivity substantially and eliminate or greatly reduce their need to cut down more fields is essential. Part of this will of course include provision of equipment and resources such as fertilizers and seeds. If such education and provisions can double the yield of their crop, which is very realistic and sustainable, the need to encroach on further forest areas will diminish to a large extent.
- Providing alternatives for the community’s source of income and staple diet is also a key activity. In the potential alternatives we must provide options that are realistic and that due to their nature require that the forests/vegetation are not cut down to such an extent. One of such projects is beekeeping. This practice which has already showed success in small pilot areas within the communities provides both a strong income and incentive not to cut into the vegetation and forest areas as the bees require as much vegetation as possible in order to yield the required honey. Once educated on how the hives are built and provided with the necessary materials, one hive can produce 20kgs of honey with a market value of $10 per kg. Each hive when running correctly can be harvested every 3-4 months. This alternative vocation can provide both a healthy income and strong incentive to stop the deforestation.
- Forest fires are a major driver behind decreasing biomass density and deforestation. Forest fires are a natural phenomenon that cannot be prevented entirely, however they can be controlled to a large degree. Unnatural forest fires are caused mostly by animal poachers who set the vegetation alight so that their dogs can run more freely through the burnt remains of the vegetation to catch their prey.
- To reduce such practice, a combination of anti poaching patrols, enforcement and community projects to provide poachers with an alternative source of income/food shall be implemented.
- Fire breaks and early burning programs will significantly cut risks of fires burning out of control and causing severe damage to the forests.
- A combination of fire detection systems, fire prevention systems, and fire extinguishing systems will be put in place to mitigate fire damage. This will include educating the communities on fire management.
- Much deforestation is caused by causal logging activities within the communities, much of which is used as fire- wood for cooking and heating purposes. It is estimated that an average household can burn the equivalent of one small tree a day to cater for their cooking and heating habits. Therefore by reducing this number by, for example 50%, a huge impact can be made on the deforestation of areas that have large communities surrounding them. It can also benefit the communities in other ways such as freeing up time of those who traditionally collect the wood, a job which can take many hours and even days in some cases.
- However, clearly alternatives for the wood-fuel issue have to be found. The wood provides the communities with their basic means of living.
- Improved efficiency cook stoves can be provided to each household that consume between 40-60% less wood. Such cook stoves can be provided for around $10-15 each and have a lifetime of 3-5 years.
- Such cook stoves must be distributed with particular focus on education and cultural awareness if the communities are to utilize such equipment correctly and for the project to see a corresponding decrease in deforestation.
This is one of the most important aspects of the project, which requires great expertise, diligence and organization so as to uphold the values obtained through the accreditation. If the requirements set by the accreditation are not implemented correctly, value will not be obtained and the project will fail. Project management is run as one entity but have three distinct arms to it:
- On the Ground Management
- Fully equipped for land patrols
- Anti-poaching (trees and wildlife)
- Fire management. Fire breaks and early burning programs, fire detection and extinguishing programmes
- RDC and community relationship management
- Environmental Management Agency
- To carry out technical aspects and directives of the project, monitoring performance of the project
- To advise accordingly on technical issues and requirements
- Will collate and issue key performance indicators and statistics as required by the carbon market and the Project Design Document, and guide accordingly on any required corrective action
- CGA along with necessary parties within councils i.e. Agritex, EMA, Forestry etc to implement the designated community based projects and education.
- Projects to include; Environmental Education, Conservation Agriculture, Bee Keeping Projects, Nutritional Gardening and wood lots / nurseries.