An historic partnership between African conservation organisations is securing the continent’s most vital wildlife habitat areas by harnessing the income generation of Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation (REDD+) carbon offsets.
The South African-headquartered Peace Parks Foundation(PPF) is a conservation leader on the African continent, facilitating the establishment of transfrontier conservation areas that serve to protect large functional ecosystems across borders, thereby safeguarding the Southern African region’s critical resources and natural heritage. BCP is one of the leading forest carbon project developers in Africa. BCP’s hallmark is REDD+ projects with exceptional community benefits evidenced by Africa’s first Climate, Community and Biodiversity Standard gold rated project for exceptional community benefits: the Lower Zambezi REDD+ Project. BCP is also currently developing Africa’s first million hectare REDD+ project called the Luangwa Community Forests Project.
PPF and Zambian-based BCP (BioCarbon Partners), partnered in 2015 to support the conservation of large tracts of wildlife habitat bordering on the proposed Lower Zambezi-Mana Pools Transfrontier Conservation Area that incorporates conservation areas in Zambia and Zimbabwe.
Zambia loses forest four times the size of New York City to deforestation every year. That is on average 300 000 ha of trees and valuable wildlife habitat disappearing annually due to charcoal production and agricultural clearing. This not only contributes to global climate change, but also exacerbates the loss of already threatened wildlife species that call these forests their home, such as the African wild dog, elephant, lion as well as locally threatened species such as sable, roan and ground hornbill.
Since 2012, BCP has worked with the Zambian Government and local communities to create new value from wildlife habitat protection through REDD+. In partnership with the country’s Department of National Parks and Wildlife and the Forestry Department, the USAID-funded Luangwa Community Forests Project
has enabled BCP to scale up forest conservation across more than one million hectares of wildlife strongholds in Zambia.
REDD+ is a mechanism to fund forest protection and community development through sales of carbon offsets. BCP has utilized the mechanism to fund forest protection activities and provide alternative livelihood opportunities to communities through the Lower Zambezi REDD+ Project(LZRP) area. To incentivize participation in forest conservation, rural communities receive performance-based incentives that can be used to fund local infrastructure and social development projects.
Werner Myburgh, CEO of Peace Parks Foundation, shared his vision for this partnership: “Conservation efforts can only be successful if they also engage and benefit those communities who are engrained in these natural spaces. The income generated from REDD+ projects elevates the intrinsic value of conservation to a tangible return back to people and planet. With this in mind, our goal is to jointly develop more than ten million hectares of high-quality REDD+ projects in transfrontier conservation areas and other areas of global biodiversity importance, over the next decade.“
The partnership is already proving fruitful with PPF facilitating a historic seven-year offset purchase agreement for BCP’s forest carbon work with luxury goods company, Richemont. Richemont’s commitment to reduce their company emissions through BCP offset purchases will support ongoing forest conservation and social impact projects in Zambia.
The partnership with PPF enables BCP to continue vital conservation work in Zambia by providing market links for LZRP offset sales. BCP’s CEO, Dr. Hassan Sachedina, commented “This long-term forward contract by Richemont is truly a global leadership statement. For REDD+ to deliver on its opportunity to become the most transformational conservation finance tool of our generation, it needs two pillars: firstly, projects developed with a baseline of exceptional community benefits; and secondly, sales partners willing to commit to multi-year contracts helping projects to plan community impacts. We commend Richemont for its climate mitigation efforts and commitment to African conservation and community development.”
Richemont has been a member of PPF’s Club 21 for almost two decades, and has been promoting PPF’s achievements through the Richemont annual shareholder report for many years. Extending that long-standing commitment to PPF and its partners, including BCP, is a natural step. Richemont’s seven-year agreement to purchase the majority of its carbon credits from developer BCP can only add financial security to PPF and its ecosystem projects across the region.