Women Leading Livelihoods in Forest Conservation

Through a partnership with Forestry Department, BCP-supported livelihood initiatives are benefitting women, their families, and their communities. In the Luangwa Community Forests Project (LCFP), the livelihood initiatives are providing women with the education, resources, and support to grow their own businesses.

The increased income from forest conservation opportunities that this gender mainstreaming initiative provides has helped to not only encourage women to step into positions of leadership, but also increase the wellbeing of their families. Today, we are proud to highlight two female leaders who have grown their own bee-keeping and agro-forestry businesses as a result of this conservation livelihood partnership.

Bee-Keeping: Mrs. Charity Chulu – Nsefu Chiefdom

Mrs. Charity Chulu, pictured here with her family, is a bee-keeping farmer in Chitunda Village, Nsefu Chiefdom. She is delighted with her success:  she has harvested and sold honey through a direct to export market partner of BCP which has allowed her to pay school tuition fees for her children for the entire year.

“We shall continue to keep our forest intact because it has brought a lot of benefits, one of them being beehives which has given us money to send our children to school. It also brings a good environment to our villages as it has got a part to play in bringing rainfall and good weather all around” – Mrs. Charity Chulu

Bee-keeping is a valuable and sustainable livelihood that has brought Mrs. Chulu, and many other bee-keeping farmers within the LCFP partner Chiefdoms additional income to support their families. There are currently 11,200 bee-hives deployed supporting 1,120 households and in turn, 6,720 beneficiaries.

Agro-forestry: Mrs. Enny Simufwi –Bunda Bunda Chiefdom

Mrs. Enny Simufwiis the Lead Agro-forestry Farmer in Mweeshang’ombe community zone, Bunda Bunda Chiefdom. BCP first came to know Enny in 2013 as one of the earliest trained conservation farmers under the Lower Zambezi REDD+ Project.  Today, she leads and supports nine other agro-forestry farmers. Through BCP’s partnership with the Zambian Ministry of Agriculture, Enny has been able to improve her farming practices and increase her groundnut and maize yields using conservation farming techniques. Enny has also planted 78 citrus trees providing not only a source of income, but also a source of added nutrition from the fruits.

Enny had a lot to say about her flourishing orchard and their fascinating benefits.

“I planted mangos and oranges for home consumption. It is part of Agro-forestry.” Pointing to a Sennas ciamea Tree she adds, “Rainfall here is good because of these trees. When we plant these trees, they absorb carbon from the atmosphere and also help with rainfall.”

She adds, “the Faidherbia Albida is used as ‘green manure’. The leaves drop in October and November and make the soil so fertile.” Moving on to the Neem Tree she adds: “These leaves are used as medicine for chickens and people and cure about 200 diseases.”

Our ambitions are to scale up nutrition security in the 13 Chiefdoms we partner with over the next 36 months.  It’s an ambitious target, but it’s a necessary one.  According to Government statistics, some of these community areas of Eastern Zambia have some of the highest poverty and food insecurity rates in the country.  Our goal is to change this through forest protection.  In order to live BCP’s mission of making conservation of wildlife habitat valuable to people, we have to pursue strong partnerships targeting the most vulnerable households and scaling Enny and Charity’s stories across thousands of households.  We are proud that BCP’s partnerships with Government are building livelihoods and continuing to improve the livelihoods of women, their communities, and their farmlands and forests, and we are proud of Enny and Charity empowering their families through trees.

Possibly the Best Green Charcoal in the World!

Sustainably managed forests are both a renewable energy source for communities and a carbon sink for the planet. Roughly only a quarter of Zambians have access to electricity, thus charcoal and wood fuel are essential for heating and cooking and will likely remain that way for years. But how that fuel is sourced can make a huge difference to our forests, communities, and planet.

As it stands, Rufunsa’s deforestation rate is approximately 11 times higher than the national average. Fortunately, this can change. Producing Eco-Charcoal is one way to protect forests on community lands, providing legal and sustainable fuel, and generating funds for Government and communities. By selectively harvesting mature trees while delicately cutting the remaining trees to allow for natural re-growth, forests can produce charcoal for energy and then regrow in a sustainable manner. This process can protect our ecosystems while generating income and boosting community livelihoods.

Eco-Charcoal was started by BCP Trust in 2013 in partnership with communities and the Forestry Department to produce a sustainable charcoal using improved kilns from a forest in Rufunsa District. To date, 424 hectares that are on an 18-year rotation are being managed by community “Charpreneurs” (charcoal entrepreneurs) and 31 households are involved as both producers of Eco-Charcoal and protectors of the forests that the charcoal is sourced from. 

Photo Caption: Davy Mabunda, a BCP Charpreneur undergoing refresher training during April 2020 in Ndubulula Zone. The refresher training was conducted by Mr. Simon Bweupe (Forestry Department, Senior Extension Officer) in collaboration with BCP Facilitators. The purpose of the training was to refresh and train Charpreneurs on sustainable harvesting methods, sustainable forest management and pre and post harvesting activities.

The project produces around 270 tons (270,000 kgs) per year and has generated $39,798.00 in payments to Charpreneurs, and $12,636.00 for the production and conveyance licenses to the Forestry Department between 2017 and 2019.

Eco-Charcoal sells two branded products:

  • A wholesale volume bag of 90kgs
  • A premium 5 kg bag found in supermarkets 

It is hard to compete with the informal sector which doesn’t pay the same taxes.  So we’re looking at ways to scale Eco-Charcoal by selling more kilos. However, using high-efficiency kilns which result in a 20% longer burn time than standard charcoal and the peace of mind knowing that your charcoal has been produced through sustainable methods by the caring hands of our “Charpreneuers,” buyers cannot go wrong with Eco-Charcoal! 

“I have been participating in the Eco-Charcoal Project from 2013 to present.  In the past, I wasn’t involved in any income generating activity, but after BCP brought the Eco-Charcoal project, I am able to pay school fees for my children and procuring farming inputs such as seeds and fertilizer. I have also used money from Eco-Charcoal to buy goats and other monthly essentials.” Christina Miti – Charpreneur from Ndubulula Zone of Bunda Bunda Chiefdom

We are humbled by the support received from our long-standing partner, Forestry Department, as well as Musika, who have helped us along the way with funding to support our marketing efforts. Remember to look out for our bags of Eco-Charcoal at Melisa’s Supermarket, Mudpackers and Butcher Block. You can also purchase from us directly by sending a WhatsApp, text or call to +260 976 321 164.

New Scouts on the Block – Team Delta!

Safeguarding nearly 1,000,000 hectares of protected forest is no easy feat. It requires resources, strategy, and collaboration. In partnership with the Forestry Department and Department of National Parks and Wildlife (DNPW), BCP conducts monthly aerial monitoring of forests to monitor for any unauthorized activity. If a plane finds there is any illegal charcoal, logging, or wildlife crime they turn to the boots on the ground – Community Scouts. Community Scoutsare an important tool for our Community Resource Board (CRB) partners to protect their community forests and the wildlife in them.

Today, with our Government and community partners, we are excited to share a bit of hope with a story of community job creation as we announce the expansion of the Community Scout team assigned to REDD+ projects BCP implements in Zambia. Currently, the partnership between CRBs, Government and BCP sponsors 57 Community Scouts recruited directly from REDD+ Partner Chiefdoms.

The 4th intake of Community Scouts (aptly named ‘Delta’ to follow the alphabet) were selected in early 2020 and when it is safe to start basic training, will attend 3 months of training at a DNPW training facility.  After basic training, these community scouts will begin to patrol community forests under the supervision of DNPW.  Delta targets 40 community scouts, bringing the number of community scouts supported under REDD+ in Zambia to just under 100.  Competition for Delta was stiff:  717 community members applied, 76 applicants (53 men and 23 women) were selected for training and only 40 will graduate.  This high attrition rate means that only the most committed community members join the team to protect their community forests.

A key part of REDD+ is creating value for communities to create incentives to conserve.  Job creation is one such incentive.  When Delta graduate, the number of partner Chiefdom community members on REDD+ project payroll will be around 75% of total staff on payroll.  This shows the extraordinary ability of forest conservation to create local jobs in a tough year when jobs are being lost in many places.

BCP is grateful for the investment by The Darwin Initiative, The Lion Recovery Fund and National Geographic who have graciously funded part of the costs to select, train, equip and remunerate scouts.

As Mpanshya CRB Chairman, Mr. Crispin Chikopa adds:

“Watching each year’s recruits learn, grow and mature into skilled managers of Zambia’s wildlife and community forests certainly gives us a sense of fulfilment as we realise a shared passion for making the conservation of wildlife habitat valuable to our communities.”

BCP is humbled by the support received from our generous donors and partners

A Conservation Farming Success Story

In partnership with the Ministry of Agriculture, BCP’s support to a conservation agriculture initiative is enhancing food security in some of Zambia’s most vulnerable communities. Our Government partners and BCP have been partnering with local farmers to train them in sustainable agricultural practices that restore soil quality, increase yields, and reduce overall food insecurity in their communities. Higher yields and richer soils also mean there is less of a need to clear forest land for additional food production. A win for both people and the planet!
 
Mr. Ernest Mwale is one of the “Lead Farmers” supported through this partnership with Government in Jumbe Chiefdom in Zambia’s Luangwa Valley. Since Mr. Mwale adopted conservation farming techniques, there has been a significant increase in his crop yield. With traditional conventional farming methods, he used to harvest 13 bags of maize in a season. After he shifted to conservation farming techniques catalyzed through the Luangwa Community Forests Project (LCFP), Mr. Mwale more than doubled his yield to over 30 bags of maize. The increase in production that he has achieved is life-changing.
 
“This is amazing. Since I started Conservation Farming I have been food secure with my family throughout the year. I have also been practicing crop rotation with groundnuts, distributing the risk failure of one crop. I will still be able to have a good harvest from the other crop while maintaining soil fertility at the same time. I no longer need to shift my fields. – Mr. Mwale

Mr. Mwale’s leadership has been exemplary. Lead Farmers are typically responsible for mentoring 15 “Follower Farmers;” however, Mr. Mwale supports more than 30 Follower Farmers. He provides his Follower Farmers with training in climate smart agriculture that will help them to increase their household incomes as well as their family’s food security.
 
Household nutrition security is elusive in rural Zambia, especially as rainy seasons become more erratic. Poverty rates in the Eastern Province are some of the highest in Zambia, which in turn is one of the highest in Africa. Achieving nutrition security is fundamental if forests are to be protected in a rural economy which depends on agriculture.  Climate finance conservation agriculture is funded by the sale of community forest offsets. BCP’s partnerships with the Ministry of Agriculture and the Forestry Department are central to REDD+ financed climate smart agriculture activities.

In the face of the effects of climate change, promoting Climate Smart Agricultural technologies is the way to go because community members who adopt these technologies see immediate benefits with improved yields recorded, which in turn creates food and nutrition security at a household level.  In turn, they don’t need to shift to new fields which often means clearing intact forest.” – Shadreck Ngoma, BCP’s Agricultural Development Co-Coordinator


Community livelihood initiatives such as such as Conservation Agriculture, EcoCharcoal, and Bee-keeping have been pillars of BCP’s livelihood approach since our founding in 2012.  Although both projects have been VCS verified and are triple gold CCB, it is clear to BCP we need to do much more.  This is clearer in a COVID-19 year where the economy is contracting and there is more of a need for agriculture to produce.  Our efforts to create impacts environmentally, but socially as well, through the generation of community forest offsets are creating social safety nets and hope in rural Zambian communities.

BCP Zambia’s First ‘Climate Positive’ Company

During this challenging time, we want to take a moment to share a bit of hope and inspiration in honor of Earth Day.  

BCP is proud to be one of the first companies to offset more carbon than we have emitted since our founding. It’s a move that’s aligned with global projections – that in order to limit the overall global temperature increase to 2°C by 2050 we must not only achieve zero emissions, we must achieve negative emissions – and we must do so urgently. As a carbon offset company it’s no surprise we’re interested in lowering our emissions, but going beyond carbon neutral today – and striving for carbon neutral since our founding – required new thinking and efforts.

We found inspiration from other companies. We applauded Microsoft’s announcement to offset all of the company’s emissions since its founding in 1975.  Similarly, we were inspired by Max Burgers, a Swedish company which offsets 10% more carbon than the company emits, making it ‘climate positive.’.

“We made it company policy not to buy beef due to its climate change impacts. But even then, I realized we needed to do much more. Our internal emissions are under a microscope and we look monthly for ways to reduce emissions and waste.” – Ms. Joke Hoffman, BCP COO

As of the end of December 2019, BCP has offset more carbon than we have emitted since our founding in 2012. Our current figures show we are 200% climate positive, meaning we have offset 200% more carbon than we have created since our company’s formation. Carbon offsets have played a major role in this achievement, but like banning the buying of beef, we’ve taken other steps to be more sustainable: using renewable energy in our offices, using smaller cars and motorcycles for our operations, instituting a ‘hypermiling’ driving policy, recycling, as well as other small changes to reduce waste and energy consumption.

Our internal efforts ad up and are important, but we could not have come close to our goal without forest protection. And the same goes for global efforts to keep  the world temperature increase to 2 C. Protecting forests is essential. Today, the world is losing roughly 13 million hectares of forest a year. Zambia is 60% forested which means that it would only take 3 years and 5 months to clear Zambia’s 45 million ha of forest. If deforestation were a country it would rank third after both China and the United States as a source of emissions! 

We retired 400 Verified Carbon Units to help us offset unavoidable emissions during 2019

It is now more apparent than ever that we must act. The good news is that it’s possible. If your company would like to go climate positive, please contact us to let us know if we can help at info@biocarbonpartners.com or buy offsets here (https://www.biocarbonpartners.com/buy-offsets/).

Does Wildlife Help Forests Store More Carbon?

During these difficult times around the world, one source of hope is seeing the return of life to landscapes where conservation efforts are taking root. One of these stories of restoration is BCP’s Rufunsa Conservancy – a private 40,000 hectare game reserve that protects 60 kms of frontage of the Lower Zambezi National Park and is the main site for BCP’s Lower Zambezi REDD+ Project.

Despite its proximity to one of the most wildlife-rich parks in Zambia, this area has long been depleted of wildlife due to poaching. This is beginning to change. We are now seeing a resurgence of species like lions, sable antelope, southern ground hornbills and roan antelope.

BCP teamed up with Lion Landscapes to help us monitor some of the trends we have been seeing. Despite the best efforts of predators such as lions, hyenas and leopards, large herds of roan and sable are now often seen. When we did some (non-scientific) back of the envelope calculations, we estimated that the amount of dung dropped on the Conservancy was the equivalent of around 6 full 747 cargo jets of fertilizer. That’s a lot of fertilizer! The BCP team and our partners have been thrilled by the amounts we’re finding as it tells us that we’re not only protecting forests, but we’re also helping to conserve wildlife.

“Well-managed forests provide much more than carbon storage, a sustainable source of firewood, or building materials. Healthy forests also support a host of wildlife species” – Dr. Alayne Cotterrill, Lion Landscapes

As part of the annual carbon audit trees are remeasured.  In the last two years, on average the trees are getting bigger.  This was pointed out by Francis Eaton, lead auditor from SCS Global based in California:

“Compared to other miombo areas of East Africa where I have worked, the miombo across the reserve is healthier and trees are noticeably bigger. While assessing the impact of the community scouts I noticed that evidence of tree cutting, and human foot trails are almost non-existent, and this fact is not lost on the wildlife. Each year I return to assess the carbon project, I see more and more wildlife returning to the area, including some species I have never encountered before in my East Africa work.” – Francis Eaton, Carbon Verification Forester

The increase in flora and fauna across the Conservancy can be attributed to some of BCP’s management interventions. For the past 8 years, BCP has invested in a partnership with DNPW to build a trained community scout team to protect forests and wildlife.  In the early days, the scouts were filling up floor space with the wildlife snares collected on patrols. Nowadays, we rarely collect any snares and operational coverage has increased. 

“In 2011 on my first visit, all I saw was one bushbuck sprinting away. Sable, lion, hyena and other species are more common now. When we started the project we thought the Conservancy’s forest were mature and we did not expect growth spurts. The links may be anecdotal for now, but we are thrilled reduced fire stress and increased wildlife numbers cause trees to store more carbon.” – Dr. Hassan Sachedina, BCP

Our efforts to preserve the Rufunsa Conservancy forest to generate carbon offsets has not only helped enhance forest growth but it has also brought back wildlife to the area. We are increasing our efforts to help restore wildlife across more areas and to reduce fire impacts moving forwards as part of our mission of making wildlife habitat conservation valuable to people.  The carbon offsets may be hard to see, but the presence of lions and antelope are undeniable, and quite frankly, inspiring.

BCP’s Response to COVID-19: A Message of Hope

I live in a small tourist town that is the gateway to South Luangwa National Park, one of Zambia’s most prized and visited tourism destinations. Today it’s a ghost town. The world is facing an unprecedented crisis, and Zambia feels it deeply. As of 30 March there are 35 confirmed COVID-19 cases in Zambia, and there are calls for the President to announce a state of emergency. The copper price (which sustains our economy) has dropped 30% since January, tourism has collapsed, most businesses are in a state of panic, inflation has spiked, and unemployment is rising. I’m scared to even think what could happen if the infection rate becomes exponential in a country with such under developed public health capacity. 

At BCP, our bottom line is threatened, yet our role and our vision remain more important than ever.

Climate finance, which BCP channels into communities, is critical. With the collapse of photographic and hunting revenue streams, combined with the Luangwa River flooding farms and a reduced tax base for government, the climate finance channelled by the Lower Zambezi REDD+ Project (LZRP) and the Luangwa Community Forests Project (LCFP) are central to peoples’ livelihoods in our partner communities.  In 2020, the benefits we commit to communities will be over $3 million. These funds will primarily go to agriculture support, health, water, and educational infrastructure. 

Despite the crisis, our work and our support continues, and there are some additional measures we are taking:

  • Our board has approved a USD $50,000 grant to support tourism related community jobs. This is to help businesses in the chiefdoms where we have partnered to provide subsistence packages to community employees. Our contribution is part of a wider private sector coalition effort to support government.
  • Where we can, we also fund micro-support packages, for instance we donated soap to every single household (1,200 in total) in the LZRP to help with sanitization.  Our policy of buying Zambian products where possible takes on more meaning as we do our best to support local businesses stay afloat. 
  • For our co-workers, fondly dubbed BCPeople, we have assured them that our goal is to keep everyone employed throughout the year. We have also invested in soap, wet wipes, sanitizer and face masks for all six of our offices, and for each vehicle in our fleet.  Staff who are mobile are equipped with sanitizer and masks.  Staff using public transport are collected directly from home.  Our offices now run strict sanitization every two hours of hands and door handles. 

We have also increased pay for the lowest paid members of BCP staff to 18% higher than the statutory minimum.  We are introducing a health subsidy to help buy healthy food for all staff in our six offices.  We have offered staff remote work options, and empowered staff to take all their annual leave even if not accrued.  In March, a bonus pool from 2019 was paid out.  We have introduced a USD 2,800 Emergency Loan Fund to help staff who face emergencies.  In January, BCP staff, most of whom live in remote areas with limited employment possibilities, received an average increment of 10% across the board.  All staff and their families have access to a company medical fund.  To take the sting out of cooking fuel costs, a subsidy has also been provided to BCP staff to buy Eco-Charcoal at reduced costs.

While we hear of people at risk of losing employment, we are creating up to 80 additional jobs.  In 2020, we hope to have 202 people employed, which indirectly benefits 1,212 people who depend on our salaried staff.

We have formed an Emergency Response Team and put the company on ‘red alert’ where we monitor the situation by the hour, not by the day.  We are ready to shut down any office within 30 minutes to self-isolate if an outbreak is reported in a nearby neighbourhood. 

While this crisis is unprecedented in our lifetimes, our work is so important at community level that we need to keep climate funds flowing in order for rural communities to access basic staples and services during these difficult times.  We are fortunate to have such strong and supportive partners who, in spite of their own economic challenges, are staying true to their carbon reduction commitments.  We plan to  keep investing and growing and sharing our message of hope and optimism. I am reminded of navigating a small aircraft through a storm front between Mfuwe to Lusaka.  When the turbulence, rain and lightning got rough, I reverted to my training and focused on 2 instruments to keep the wings level wings level and to stay out of the center of the storm. Eventually we landed trouble free. I am optimistic COVID will be the same. And imagine, weathering the storm based on a model that supports climate change mitigation and conservation efforts – that message keeps me optimistic.

We will continue to review the situation and to act in the best interest of our people. 

Here’s how YOU can help! Click on the link below to purchase offsets from our Luangwa Community Forests Project (LCFP) to help support our communities. Click the “Buy Offsets” tab in the top right hand corner of the page. For every 10 tons of carbon offsets purchased, we retire an additional 1 ton, making your purchase ‘climate positive’!

https://www.biocarbonpartners.com/

1,200 pieces of soap delivered to a partner Chiefdom

Written by BCP’s CEO, Dr. Hassan Sachedina

BCP Celebrates Staff Appreciation Day

“It was so memorable in that other than sending thank you messages. It felt like BCP as a company was bringing everyone together to ‘hug’ them all at once and saying ‘thank you’. You know that special feeling when someone says ‘thank you’ to your face” Darlington Chipita
 
Darlington Chipita, fondly known as “001” was BCP’s first employee, signed on in 2012. Darlington, along with all of the BCP staff, shared a memorable day together in Mfuwe on November 2019, dubbed “Zikomo Kwambiri Day” (thank you in ChiNyanja), in an effort to show staff appreciation and give thanks for their commitment, hard work and dedication to our mission.  ZK Day was a fun day of team-building activities, sharing BCP’s history with new staff, annual awards, eating together, and more than a few beers.
 
BCP’s Mission is to “Make Conservation of Wildlife Habitat Valuable to People” and more important than profit to BCP, are our Co-workers, fondly dubbed ‘BCPeople’.  ZK Day was an example of our commitment to our team. BCP invested heavily in transporting all staff from all 5 offices across 6 districts and 2 Provinces to connect, bond, award long-servers as well as give recognition to staff who consistently go above and beyond to support our mission.  Over 90 staff were hosted in Mfuwe, gateway to South Luangwa National Park.

BCP is the 5th highest scoring Certified B Corporation in the World of about 3,300 companies (https://bcorporation.net/about-b-corps).  B Corporations are businesses that meet the highest standards of verified social and environmental performance, staff care, public transparency, and legal accountability to balance profit and purpose.  We care deeply about our Co-workers and it reflects in our B Corp score.
 

In light of the recent ‘Women’s Day, celebrated on 9 March 2020, we give thanks to our leading ladies that drive our business forward! Although women account for only 14% of our payroll, each one makes a powerful contribution to our mission. In 4 out of our 5 offices, we have women in important roles.
BCP’s CEO, Dr. Hassan Sachedina adds: “My hope and goal is for the percent of women in our workforce to increase to 50% in the future and for women to be working in 100% of BCP’s soon to be 7 offices.”
 
A company is only as strong as the team driving its operations forward.  BCP’s focus has shifted from fundraising, and bootstrapping VCS and CCB certification.  It has shifted to a focus on our people, our values (what we call our ‘Roots’), our culture, and a focus on making our two projects the best implemented REDD+ projects in the world within 2 years.  BCP believes that the best asset we could possibly invest in is our team of performers. It is possible that BCP’s 2 projects benefit the most number of people, more than any REDD+ project on earth.  We are immensely proud that this has been achieved by a team that is 98% African-born.  A team whose values are clearly underlined and a team whose passion and energy for wildlife conservation and community impact exceed the boundaries of their prescribed duties. We are eternally humbled and grateful to our extraordinary team for their extraordinary drive, energy, passion, commitment and hard work. “ZIKOMO KWAMBIRI”.

Protecting 1 million hectares of Zambian forests – Eni, Peace Parks and BCP Partner to sustainably protect indigenous woodlands

Following an announcement by Biocarbon Partners (BCP) that the Luangwa Community Forests Project (LCFP) was successfully validated and verified by the Verified Carbon Standard and validated to Climate, Community & Biodiversity Alliance (CCBA)  triple gold standards for exceptional social impact, we are proud to announce a partnership between BCP, Eni and Peace Parks Foundation that will greatly contribute to the project’s long-term sustainability.

The LCFP is a partnership between Government, 12 Chiefdoms with a population of 173,000 people and BCP to enhance protection of a biodiversity corridor between the Lower Zambezi and Luangwa National Parks in Zambia.
 
Zambia’s deforestation amount by landcover of indigenous forests and valuable wildlife habitat annually is ranked the highest in Africa approaching 300,000 hectares a year. 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+.
 
REDD+ is a mechanism to fund forest protection and community development through sales of carbon offsets. To incentivise participation in these forest conservation initiatives, rural communities receive performance-based incentives from the return on the carbon sales, that can be used to fund local infrastructure and social development projects. The LCFP is Africa’s largest REDD+ project by hectarage at 944,000 hectares.
 
A key risk to the success of the LCFP is to continue to deliver impactful benefits and alternative livelihoods to local communities.  LCFP aims to catalyse a conservation economy in Eastern Zambia that will create jobs, improve social conditions and attract new investment. 
 
The new 20-year agreement signed between BCP, Peace Parks Foundation and Eni aims to address this risk and ensure that LCFP communities economically transform alongside improved conservation co-management of key wildlife habitats. Eni’s step to partner with an African conservation NGO and an African social enterprise in a multi-year, multi-project pipeline plan is a pioneering leadership step.
 
Antonio Baldassarre, Senior Vice President REDD+ and Africa Program for Eni stated that: “Eni is one of Africa’s largest energy investors and has been active in the continent since 1954.  To Eni, protecting African forests and biodiversity, creating community wealth are logical and important components on how we operate and how we can contribute to delivering the UN Sustainable Development Goals, all important constituences of our decarbonization strategy.  The scale and longevity of this Partnership will help ensure LCFP can continue to be a leading conservation project recognised for its quality and positive contribution towards both the people and landscape of Zambia.”   
 
Mr. Werner Myburgh, CEO of Peace Parks Foundation added: “The biggest challenge of our time is to ensure co-existence between humans and nature, and this project is an exemplary conservation success story, because not only will this be achieved, but both will truly thrive. We laud Eni for stepping up to join a partnership that is leading the way in making an impact at a scale that is vital to help mitigate climate change and maintain biodiversity.”
 
According to Dr. Hassan Sachedina, BCP CEO: “Successful community-based conservation efforts to reduce deforestation requires sustainable incentives.  Signing a 20 year partnership agreement de-risks our community partners and resonates deeply with BCP’s mission of making conservation of wildlife habitat valuable to people.  In 2020, direct payments to 12 communities will be $2.6 million (38 Million Zambian Kwacha).”

In 2018, Peace Parks facilitated 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 also support ongoing forest conservation and social impact projects in Zambia.

Eni

Eni is a global integrated energy company operating in 67 Countries. We concretely support a just energy transition, with the objective of preserving our planet and promoting an efficient and sustainable access to energy for all. Our work is based on passion and innovation, on our unique strengths and skills, on the equal dignity of each person, recognizing diversity as a key value for human development, on the responsibility, integrity and transparency of our actions. We believe in the value of long term partnerships with the countries and communities where we operate, bringing long-lasting prosperity for all. Our path to decarbonization aims to make the Company carbon neutral in the long term, developing an integrated energy transition plan, leveraging efficiency maximization and direct emission reduction, promoting an energy mix with a low carbon impact, developing circular economy and offset initiatives through forestry projects development. Finally, a key role will be played by new technologies use for the capture and use of CO2 emitted.

BCP

BCP (BioCarbon Partners) is a Zambian-based social enterprise, which develops and manages long term forest carbon projects in Zambia. We are a leading African, carbon offset development company that partners with local communities to create environmental awareness and improve the quality of life for local communities. The current focus of BCP is on implementing and extending REDD+ projects in the greater Zambezi-Luangwa ecosystem with plans to extend our projects in the Kafue ecosystem in Zambia. BCP has certified two successful REDD+ projects in Zambia; The Lower Zambezi REDD+ Project (LZRP) and The Luangwa Community Forests Project (LCFP), combining an area of almost 1 million hectares. Both projects have been validated to Community, Climate and Biodiversity (CCB) triple gold standards (validation) and Verified Carbon Standard (VCS) verification; The LCFP is the largest REDD+ Project in Africa and to the best of our knowledge, the largest REDD+ project in the World in terms of quantified social beneficiaries at approximately 173,000 beneficiaries.  www.biocarbonpartners.com

Peace Parks
 
The Peace Parks dream is to reconnect Africa’s wild spaces to create a future for man in harmony with nature. In order to achieve this vision the Foundation works to renew and preserve large, functional ecosystems that stretch across international boundaries. Peace Parks engages with governments to secure protected land, and channel investment into development of transboundary conservation areas.  The organisation plans and implements innovative strategies that revitalise habitat integrity, restore ecological functionality, and protect biodiversity. The Foundation develops nature-based tourism and enterprise opportunities to ensure the long-term sustainability of protected areas. At the same time, it focuses on communities living in and around these wild spaces –capacitating them in the sustainable use of natural resources and unlocking opportunities for them to derive equitable benefits from conservation.

Investing in Education through Forest Conservation: Luembe Chiefdom Schools Upgraded

The launch and hand over of the projects were graced by the District Council Chairman, His Royal Highness, Senior Chief Luembe and the District Education Secretary on 15th December 2019

The Luangwa Community Forests Project (LCFP) is the largest REDD+ project in Africa by hectarage.  The LCFP partnership between Government, 12 Chiefdoms and BCP enhances conservation of globally important wildlife habitat in the Lower Zambezi to Luangwa corridor of Zambia.  The success or failure of LCFP will depend upon communities realizing adequate benefits of community-based forest conservation.  A key LCFP tool to support enhanced community livelihoods is through the use of ‘conservation fees’: performance-based fees which depend upon the successful conservation of community forests.  Conservation fees are managed through Community Resource Boards (CRB) in partnership with the Department of National Parks and Wildlife (DNPW) and BCP.

BCP is pleased to report that the Luembe Chiefdom CRB successfully rehabilitated 2 classrooms and a Teacher’s House costing $18,300.00 in conservation fees.  The infrastructure was officially launched in December 2019 by the Nyimba District Council Chairman, His Royal Highness Senior Chief Luembe and the District Education Board Secretary.

These projects are significant because Chikwasha and Mbilisao are located on the Lukusashi River, and roads linking both sides of the Chiefdom do not exist.  Chikwasha is reached via a two-day drive from the other side of the Chiefdom.  As a result, development investments in this part of the Chiefdom are limited.  As Senior Chief Luembe stated: “Mbilisao is a three-day walk from the Palace but it is important to share REDD+ benefits in all the front-line villages protecting our community forest. The upgrading of educational infrastructure is a huge boost in my communities.”

As an example of the public-private-community partnership, the Ministry of Education has since introduced a permanently based, trained teacher; This is an important development in a remote community where teacher retention is difficult without decent housing.  The two schools impact 380 households of approximately 2,300 people.

Mr. William Soko, DNPW Area Warden stated that: “The support BCP gives to the community through conservation fees from selected protected areas which the community has set aside in Luembe Chiefdom has helped the community to generate extra revenue which is being used for community projects such as construction of schools and recruitment of community scouts. The areas BCP is helping to protect is also the habitat for wild animals.”

BCP has secured a line of infrastructure investments into Luembe Chiefdom since 2014 in order to create value for communities through forest protection. Over US$ 180,000 has been invested into teachers’ houses, classrooms, boats and a hammer mill.  Of Luembe’s ten Village Action Groups, eight (or 80%) have been beneficiaries of this infrastructure.  Conservation fees over the last 3 years were an opportunity for CRBs to build capacity, managing carbon finance before larger conservation fees were secured following VCS verification of LCFP; in 2020 alone the secured conservation fee amount is 38 Million Kwacha (US$ 2.5 million) for 12 Chiefdoms.

Infrastructure investments chosen by the communities are part of an approach BCP refers to as a “quality of life” approach.  As Dr. Hassan Sachedina, BCP’s CEO describes: “Infrastructure investments are part of a broader strategy BCP implements to enhance access to clean water, health and education as well as investments into agriculture and off farm cash incomes like honey.  If I lost access today to either of clean water, nutrition security or accessible health, my quality of life would plummet.  It shows how trans-formative some of these investments can be.  It’s ambitious but BCP targets a measurable increases in household level incomes and quality of life in communities within 5 years of a project’s VCS verification”.

Mr. Mundia Akende, BCP’s Site Operations Manager for Nyimba also added: “The recent education projects have cheered up a lot of people in the communities of Mbilisao and Chikwasha since the community started receiving Conservation fees. The teachers house which has been rehabilitated, was started by the Government in 1983 but could not be finished. Now, through forest protection, the community has generated funds that will see the children of Mbilisao and Chikwasha have a better learning environment.”

Before: The Mbilisao Primary School classrooms before rehabilitation
After: The Mbilisao Primary School classrooms after rehabilitation