Ground-breacking initiatives to bring in environmental and financial benefits
The Kyoto Protocol’s Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) has 260 projects in 63 countries that reduce greenhouse gas emissions effects, earning valuable saleable credits. However, the CDM projects in Africa account for less than 2 per cent of those registered to date worldwide. There are 19 carbon sequestration projects in Africa, and seven are based in Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania, thus indicating that East Africa is currently the preferred region on the continent for international carbon investors.
Carbon sequestration projects’ economic and environmental benefits are particularly relevant for Africa. African countries need increased investment to sustain poverty alleviation and infrastructure growth. The World Bank’s BioCarbon Fund is currently the biggest financier of carbon sequestration projects in the Horn of Africa. Others are the European Union, the Forest Absorbing Carbon Emissions (FACE) Foundation, Global Environment Facility (GEF) and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).
A new initiative set to bring environmental and financial benefits to local communities in the Ethiopian highlands is underway, thus becoming Africa’s first large- scale forestry project under the Kyoto Protocols. The scheme, dubbed the Humbo Assisted Natural Regeneration Project, will cut an estimated 880,000 metric tones of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere over the next 30 years. Project financing has been provided by World Vision Australia and is jointly implemented by World Vision Ethiopia and Australia. MrsTenague Lemma, National Director of World Vision Ethiopia, pointed out that more than 2,700 hectares of degraded land in South Western Ethiopia has been restored since 2007. Registration of the project by the United Nations enables the future sale of over 338,000 tonnes worth of carbon credits by 2017, leading to the purchase of 165,000 tonnes worth of carbon credits by the World Bank Bio-carbon Fund.
Interestingly, the local communities stand to benefit from US$700,000 over a minimum of 10 years from the sale of carbon credits under the Bio-carbon Fund. What’s more, additional revenue will emanate from the sale of timber products in the project.
According to the World Bank’s carbon finance unit site, the project will bring about the regeneration of the native forest that is expected to provide an important habitat for many local species and to enrich local biodiversity. Major environmental benefits will stem from the reduction of soil erosion and flooding. In particular, sediment runoff currently threatening the fragile ecosystem of Lake Abaya, located 30km downstream from the project site, should be reduced. In the meantime, the restored forest would also contribute to protecting springs and streams originating in the project area.
MrAssefa Tofu, Carbon Specialist with World Vision, said, “A lot of capacity building and negotiations were carried out and we faced some challenges such as the financing of the project in addition to the process being slow and demanding”. The overall objective, he said, is to take the project into different parts of Africa. On its part, the World Bank’s head of the Bio-carbon Fund, MrsEllysarBaroudy, emphasised that there are immense opportunities in Africa for re-afforestration and said that they are working closely with the Green Belt Movement in Kenya
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