5th Verification Milestone Sees BCP Emerge a Global Leader

The Audit team in Rufunsa

The close of 2018 saw BCP achieve a significant milestone as the Lower Zambezi REDD+ Project (LZRP) became the only project in the world to obtain 5 successful VCS-verifications and triple-gold CCB verification.

BCP has operated within the Rufunsa Conservancy and surrounding communities since 2012 to establish long-term self-sustaining natural resource protection and community development through the sale of Zambian carbon offsets.

The LZRP generates forest carbon offsets by protecting wildlife habitat areas at severe risk of deforestation. In order to trade on the global carbon market, REDD+ projects undergo thorough audits on an annual basis to verify the validity of generated offsets.

Verification company SCS Global Services was responsible for assessing the validity and quality of LZRP offsets in 2018.

The verification process was conducted by Mr Francis Eaton from SCS Global Services. Verification required Mr Eaton to spend over 10 days in the field with BCP employees, assessing the effectiveness of LZRP offset generation at each stage, from technical forest management practices to community involvement and government collaboration.

SCS Auditor Francis Eaton checks that BCP’s measuring tapes are accurate.

“It is important for buyers of forest carbon offsets that REDD+ project developers are assessed thoroughly to strict international standards. Verification of these projects enable companies and individuals to purchase offsets with confidence, knowing that the offsets are real and meet requirements that ensure that they are are positively impacting local environment and communities, regardless of global location” Mr Eaton said.

“This is the fifth verification BCP’s LZRP has undergone and each year the project has ensured positive outcomes for communities as well as for combating climate change. By selecting a high-quality verifier such as SCS and using the highest verification standards for REDD+ such as the VCS and CCB Standards, BCP has differentiated itself from other carbon projects.

In addition to verification under the Verified Carbon Standard, the LZRP also achieved a Triple-Gold rating under CCB assessment. CCB gold ratings recognise carbon offset projects which deliver exceptional climate, community and biodiversity alongside offset generation. LZRP has been independently assessed as contributing to an increase in average household income of 450% over the last 5 years.

BCP CEO, Dr Hassan Sachedina, stated that “the CCB award system is enormously helpful in verifying BCP’s own aims to create transformational change within communities, the environment and wildlife in this critical conservation zone.

“For us, carbon offset generation is good for the environment, but it’s also about building a self-sustaining and long-term income stream for local community empowerment. Verifying to Triple-Gold CCB validates the energy and effort our team place on empowering communities. I could not be more proud of the BCP team.”

During Mr Eaton’s visit to Zambia for LZRP verification, the first verification assessment was also conducted for the BCP-implemented, USAID-funded, Luangwa Community Forests Project (LCFP). The LCFP is Africa’s largest REDD+ project by hectarage and benefits the most people of any REDD+ project globally that BCP is aware of.  LCFP verification is expected to be announced within the coming months.

Community Scouts line up for Italian Special Forces Training

Community Scouts are the frontline of conservation management and are critical to the protection of forest and wildlife supported by the Lower Zambezi REDD+ Project (LZRP) and Luangwa Community Forests Project (LCFP) in Zambia.

BCP Community Scouts are recruited from project participant Chiefdoms and are trained and deployed under the guidance of Zambia’s Department of National Parks and Wildlife (DNPW). Community Scout patrol teams reduce wildlife poaching and habitat loss through boundary presence and wildlife crime suspect apprehension.

Reducing forest loss within each of the REDD+ Chiefdoms is key to protecting Zambia’s significant biodiversity as well as securing much needed community income through the sale of forest carbon offsets.

Generous funding from the Lion Recovery Fund and USAID enabled employment of 22 new BCP-supported Community Scouts in December, 2018. Selection and training of the scouts was led by the DNPW Training Wing and training conducted at the newly refurbished Mukamba Gate Complex.

The new Community Scouts demonstrate their skills.

In addition to DNPW patrol training, the 22 new community scouts joined 18 serving community scouts to receive training from the Arma dei Carabinieri, including the elite Gruppo di Intervento Speciale (GIS), one of Italy’s leading Special Forces Units.

The Carabinieri provided advanced tactical training, as well as training related to countering illegal logging and illegal wildlife crime. DNPW oversaw the training at the Mukamba Gate Complex. The combination of two training approaches has built valuable capacity, motivation and confidence in the community scouts, who daily face potentially dangerous law enforcement encounters in the bush.

The Carabinieri training arose from Italian Government-initiated cooperation with the Government of Zambia to build environmental management capacity. The training contribution is valued at $60,000 – a cost out of reach for many organizations – and BCP is honoured to have been selected to pilot the training cooperation between the two Governments.

This was an exciting example of multi-sectoral partnership to build community capacity and create skilled jobs.  BCP partnered with DNPW, the Shikabeta and Mpanshya Community Resources Boards (CRBs), tourism operator Makasa Safaris, and the Italian Embassy in Zambia.

Italian Ambassador to Zambia, His Excellency Mr Filippo Scammacca, was enthusiastic about the involvement of Carabinieri in Zambia’s critical wildlife protection efforts: “Care for our most vulnerable wildlife species and environments is a global responsibility. It is a source of great pride for the Carabinieri, as well as the Italian people, to contribute to the protection of Zambia’s unique forests and wildlife. That this is possible through training and empowering local people only adds further to the commitment of my office to continue supporting these activities through collaboration with BCP as well as DNPW and Forestry Department leaders in the Zambian Government” he said.

The scouts graduated on 17thDecember 2018 at a colourful passing out ceremony attended by the Minister of Tourism and Arts, Honorable Charles Banda, and the US Ambassador to Zambia, His Excellency Daniel Foote.

USAID Partnership Renovates Northern Entrance to Lower Zambezi National Park

The Minister of Tourism and US Ambassador to Zambia formally open the new Mukamba Gate complex

On 17 December 2018, a ceremony was held to formally re-open the newly renovated Mukamba Gate Complex in Zambia Lower Zambezi National Park. The colourful event was the largest in BCP’s history and was attended by the Minister of Tourism and Arts, Honorable Charles Banda, the U.S. Ambassador to Zambia, His Excellency Daniel L. Foote, members of USAID/Zambia’s Economic Development office, Department of National Parks and Wildlife (DNPW) representatives, Biocarbon Partners (BCP) employees and local community members.

Mukamba Gate is the northern entryway to Lower Zambezi National Park and borders BCP’s Rufunsa Conservancy REDD+ project. Refurbishment of the Gate complex was funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Community Forests Program—the flagship activity for USAID/Zambia’s forest conservation and rural livelihood initiatives—and aims to support the critical work of DNPW in protecting the Park from wildlife crime and habitat loss by enhancing security measures.

The complex now boasts of an improved security checkpoint and office building as well as housing facilities for Wildlife Police Officers. The $80,000 infrastructure investment was selected by DNPW as a priority project to enhance security facilities at the Gate.

“Conservation of these areas of significant biodiversity is a large task that requires constant effort by DNPW and the Forestry Department. We are pleased for the opportunity to collaborate with the Zambian government to address our shared concern for Zambia’s environment and wildlife,” said BCP CEO, Dr. Hassan Sachedina. “It is critical in this time of growing pressures from population expansion and climate change that organisations and government work together to maximise positive outcomes for Zambia’s wildlife, forests and communities.”

Through habitat protection, local communities can benefit from tourism income as well as revenue shares from BCP carbon offset sales. Income generation is crucial within these rural areas to ensure adequate social service development to meet the growing population demand.

“If we lose Zambia’s forests and wildlife, we lose a critical driver of economic growth for our local communities,” said United States Ambassador to Zambia Daniel L. Foote. “Activities such as wildlife tourism and beekeeping are only possible through conservation.”

The Mukamba Gate refurbishment project is just one of many collaborative projects by BCP and DNPW, enabled through USAID funding for the Community Forests Program.