When conservation benefits environment and community

Forest areas in Zambia are rapidly declining as communities utilise natural resources for income through logging and charcoal production. The CFP instead incentivises communities to protect Zambia’s precious forest areas by offering an alternative income source through the sale of verified carbon credits.

This month, with support from the American People, BCP staff and our 10 partner chiefdoms in the Lower Zambezi region achieved a major milestone as US$150,000 in Conservation Fee income was distributed to communities for the first time!

The Conservation Fees are financial incentives delivered through the USAID-funded Community Forests Program (CFP), provided to participating local communities in return for the conservation and management of their local forests.

To participate in the program, communities have self-identified areas of forest for REDD+ protection and committed to agreed rules and activities for its conservation including banning all wood cutting and burning, and establishment of new habitations within the protected area.  Communities are still able to utilise non-timber products for food and livelihood purposes, such as gathering wild mushrooms, honey and other reusable natural resources.

Conservation Fee payments are performance-based, calculated on the forest land area the communities effectively protect. Revenue for the payments comes from selling verified carbon credits generated by the conserved forest area. This first round of Conservation Fee payments has been made in anticipation of future carbon credit values as BCP awaits final REDD+ project verification, which is already underway and expected in 2018.

Communities receive the Conservation Fees as a collective and will use the funds for self-identified development initiatives that offer long-term community-wide benefits. With BCP training in good governance and financial management, the CFP is also an opportunity to upskill and develop community leaders and engage local community members in the identification, design and delivery of their own interventions for forest protection.

The Conversation Fees were awarded to communities in a series of launch events which proved to be festive celebrations with representatives from local Royal Establishments, traditional leaders, local institutions and Government departments, as well as many members of the wider community! During the events local community members praised the program for delivering benefits directly to local communities and empowering them to make decisions about their own sustainable development and natural resources management goals.

Stay tuned in the coming year to see the ripple effect of this innovation on local communities as they are empowered to invest in their own development!

 

Below – Some of our partner communities celebrating as they receive inaugural Conservation Fee payments

Preparing communities for REDD+

It is said that you can’t teach someone to drive, unless you hand over the car keys, and this month, we’ve handed the keys over to 72 local community institutions.

The USAID Community Forests Program (CFP) aims to provide both theoretical and practical learning opportunities for community institutions to help them the effectively manage their natural and financial resources. Our upskilling program is a Community Based Natural Resources Management (CBNRM) model for REDD+ implementation and currently engages 10 Community Resources Boards (CRBs) and 62 Village Action Groups (VAGs).

Following a year of governance capacity assessment, critical needs identification, training delivery and resource provision, this month we felt confident that the communities are ready to take on responsibility and management of their CFP goals, with partner support and an ongoing mentor program.

We’re excited to see communities take ownership of their conservation goals and feel even more empowered to caretake their natural resources.

CFP’s Empowerment Officer provides documentation training to Conservation Assistants and Community Mobilizers who will be seconded to provide ongoing assistance to CRBs, under the CFP community institutional capacity building model.

 

 

 

 

 

CFP’s Empowerment Officer provides one-on-one Financial Management mentoring to a member of Msoro CRB, during the fourth quarter of FY17.