One of our major goals is to mitigate climate change by planting forests that stores carbon dioxide in its biomass. It is therefore essential to know how much carbon gets absorbed by the trees our forests. Since 2003 we are monitoring the carbon stocks in the Kibale reforestation project in Uganda, and this year we conducted the fifth carbon monitoring campaign in cooperation with our project partner Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA). It is an intense operation of about 7 weeks of fieldwork by three monitoring teams, with sometimes long working days.
The campaign started with the training of the fieldwork teams; some of the team members were already very experienced with the monitoring equipment and only needed a refreshment course and an update of the new version of the technology, while for others it was the first time to work with the equipment. An expert from our Czech partner IFER was also involved to prepare the campaign and conduct the training. Just like previous campaigns we used IFERs Field-Map technology, a state of the art tool for forest monitoring (more about Field-Map on www.field-map.com). Altogether we measured more than 10.000 trees in 280 plots. The monitoring results will be submitted for verification under the VCS and CCB standards.
The COP21 in December 2015 generated a lot of interest in environmental and social benefits provided by forests. So many governments today value their forests and the private sector is committed to supporting restoration and reforestation initiatives of degraded areas as part of their corporate social responsibility (CSR). Projects that mitigate climate change, generate environmental services and have great social, economic significance for local communities.
Between April 10th and 19th, two of Face the Future forestry experts (Kars Riemer and Wouter van Goor) came to Ecuador to visit with local agroforestry companies in the Tena and Archidona region (Ecuador). Their goal was to look for possibilities to join forces with local companies in order to implement a restauration program for the Amazonian landscape by establishing a combination of cover trees and sustainable agroforestry plantations with cocoa and fruit trees. This projects aims to turn abandoned pastures and unproductive and/or abandoned farms located on community lands into production systems that are sustainable, organic and low in emission.
This idea is consistent with the Amazon Productive Transformation Agenda of the Ecuadorian Ministry of Agriculture. Our forestry experts concluded at the end of their trip that it will be feasible to expand the scale of the project that was started three years ago on degraded community lands, following guidelines of management plans with current criteria for establishing sustainable production systems.
Two companies already show great interest to expand their areas of cocoa production by combining it with timber and fruit. Face the Future and PROFAFOR shall prepare a proposal and inquire with private companies in Europe that wish to contribute to this noble cause; to restore Amazonian forest cover while also serving local communities. The project matches the interests of both the private sector as well as communities that possess unproductive land. The private sector wants to contribute with planting trees without having to compensate these communities. The communities benefit from the cocoa production and in due time the yield from the fruit trees as well as any future timber harvests.
Face the Future participated at an event in Brussels this March organised by The European Forest Institute on the future of European forests for climate change. Forests and the forest sector already contribute to a climate mitigation of 13% to the EU’s overall emissions. And there is potential to increase this to 22%, if climate smart forest policies are adopted.
This includes protecting forests (carbon storage), planting new forests (carbon sinks) and replacing fossil fuel based materials with wood based materials (carbon substitution). This so called “3-S Model” of storage, sinks and substitution provides a sound basis for including forests in the EU climate policy, where they are deciding on the 2030 climate policy framework this year. The new policy needs to further recognize the importance of forests and encourage the role of forests in addressing climate change.
Especially important is to stimulate action by consumers and the private sector to contribute to reforestation. One of the options is to enable companies and individuals to offset their carbon footprints by planting trees. In Europe, this option is currently contested due to EU accounting under the Kyoto Protocol. CO₂ sequestration through reforestation is claimed by countries, resulting in double claiming and potentially excluding the additionality of tree planting for carbon offsets. Fortunately, carbon financed forests are planted and protected worldwide, yet only to a very limited extent in Europe. Hopefully this will be corrected by the EU member countries when following up on the Paris Climate Agreement. It will improve the participation of citizens and the private sector in tackling climate change and improving Europe’s forests. In the end, forests are more than carbon, providing a multitude of ecosystem services.
We are happy to announce that the Kibale forest restoration project in Uganda has now achieved CCB certification!
The project started in 1995 and has been recently implemented as a revenue sharing project between the Uganda Wildlife Authority and Face the Future. This year, the combined audit for CCB and VCS took place, resulting in the verification of carbon sequestered in the period 2011 to 2014. Since we have applied the CCB standard, the project impacts on community and biodiversity have also been taken into account.
The gross carbon sequestration in the 3 year monitoring period amounts to a total of 221 000 tons CO₂. Usually, a risk buffer of minimal 10% is applied to calculate the total amount of tradable CO₂. This amounts to 199 000 tons of CO₂ for this project. The community benefits in the same period are mainly related to employment; the average employment figure has been 260 jobs per month. Furthermore, the project is creating more value in biodiversity, by establishing new forest with indigenous species. Since 2011, an area of 373 hectares has been planted. Other activities implemented during this monitoring period are:
- fire risk management and;
- the continuing program on eradication of exotic trees.
We will be expanding our activities in the near future, as well. Since the presence of elephants in the park is causing human-wildlife conflicts (mainly in the form of crop raiding), we are addressing this by creating elephant trenches. These trenches inhibit the elephants from entering the plantations. Other activities that we are going to experiment with is the planting of crops unpalatable for elephants and the installation of beehives along the borders of Kibale National Park.
In addition, we are going to look into the funding of income generating proposals for the communities. Examples of these activities are the keeping of poultry, pigs and goats. Also, the establishment of woodlots is considered as an important activity, in order to contribute to the sustainable supply of firewood. This will ultimately reduce pressure on the park’s wood resources, because the communities won’t be inclined to cut trees from the park for firewood.
To show you the impact of this project, we recently made a new video. Please click to see this video. We will keep you posted on updates about our Kibale project on a regular basis.