We are proud to announce that the Lower Zambezi REDD+ Project, supported by the USAID-funded Community Forests Program (CFP), has received its fourth verification against the Verified Carbon Standard (VCS). This marks an important milestone, and places us on the map as one of only two REDD+ organizations in Africa that have successfully achieved four consecutive verifications against the Verified Carbon Standard (VCS), and one of only six REDD+ implementers to achieve this recognition, globally. Additionally, the LZRP remains one of the only Verified Carbon Standard verified REDD+ projects in Africa to have achieved gold level validation against the Climate, Community and Biodiversity Standard for its exceptional climate, community and biodiversity benefits.
The Verified Carbon Standard is the world’s most highly regarded and recognized independent authority on carbon projects like REDD+. They ensure our forest carbon offset projects represent emissions reductions that are real, rigorously and scientifically measured and benefit both the local community and the forest.
This year’s verification process culminated in an audit in April. While an audit may conjure up ideas of piles of paper and numbers, this was anything but that. Instead, this audit was an observation of our work. In this case, an auditor came out to visit us, to check and confirm that we are doing what we say we are doing. Francis Eaton, an auditor joined us from SCS Global and spent nearly a week observing our Forest Monitoring Team as they scientifically measured and monitored the forest. He also met with our partner communities and Government partners, to view our livelihood projects and other community activities in Rufunsa District.
As part of this audit, our team spent many days walking with the auditor through the tall grass of the miombo woodland of the Rufunsa Conservancy, which forms the northern boundary of Zambia’s Lower Zambezi National Park. In the forest, our team was led by Elvin Muchimba and his four-person Forest Monitoring Team, which oversees the measurement and monitoring of this forest. Our Forest Monitoring Team is comprised of members of the local neighboring community, who have been trained and equipped under this project. Consequently, they know this landscape like the back of their hands!
We spent a lot of time walking through the forest to reach the plots that the Forest Monitoring Team measures.
Lawrence Musoni, Liason Chiakamba, Nchimunye Simendengwe and Elvin Muchimba, on the right, leads the Forest Monitoring Team. Each member in the team has been selected and hired from the local community and has been trained to scientifically measure and monitor the forest of the Rufunsa Conservancy.
Each tree in the permanent forest plots gets tagged with a unique number and measured over time. Each plot centre is marked with a metal stake that can be found with a GPS and metal detector, but the forest monitoring team generally knows the forest so well they find it without the detector.
The FMT team measures all the trees in a 20-meter radius around the centre point of the plot. The auditor follows and double-checks their measurements to make sure they are accurate.
The weathered guidebook, nicknamed the “Tree Bible,” helps the FMT and auditor determine what type of tree they are measuring.
On the last day, which was both the shortest but also the most important, our audit team met with the members of our Community Engagement Team, and travelled out to visit some of our community projects. As part of this, the auditor also stopped and talked to some farmers who are involved in the Conservation Agriculture program supported by our project.
The team also visited the Forestry Department where the auditor saw a remarkable change from the year before. This new tree nursery has doubled in size and is carpeted with tree seedlings.
But it wasn’t all work and no fun the team had a chance to stop and hike up to the “Lookout” the highest point in the Conservancy and check out the stunning view.
A special thanks goes to all of the members of our team and partners who helped to make this achievement a reality!
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