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