Wildlife corridors — from divide and conquer to connect and restore
04 Feb 2022
Following an announcement by Biocarbon Partners (BCP) that the Luangwa Community Forests Project (LCFP) was successfully validated and verified by the Verified Carbon Standard and validated to Climate, Community & Biodiversity Alliance (CCBA) triple gold standards for exceptional social impact, we are proud to announce a partnership between BCP, Eni and Peace Parks Foundation that will greatly contribute to the project’s long-term sustainability.
The LCFP is a partnership between Government, 12 Chiefdoms with a population of 173,000 people and BCP to enhance protection of a biodiversity corridor between the Lower Zambezi and Luangwa National Parks in Zambia.
Zambia’s deforestation amount by landcover of indigenous forests and valuable wildlife habitat annually is ranked the highest in Africa approaching 300,000 hectares a year. This not only contributes to global climate change, but also exacerbates the loss of already threatened wildlife species that call these forests their home, such as the African wild dog, elephant, lion as well as locally threatened species such as sable, roan and ground hornbill. Since 2012, BCP has worked with the Zambian Government and local communities to create new value from wildlife habitat protection through REDD+.
REDD+ is a mechanism to fund forest protection and community development through sales of carbon offsets. To incentivise participation in these forest conservation initiatives, rural communities receive performance-based incentives from the return on the carbon sales, that can be used to fund local infrastructure and social development projects. The LCFP is Africa’s largest REDD+ project by hectarage at 944,000 hectares.
A key risk to the success of the LCFP is to continue to deliver impactful benefits and alternative livelihoods to local communities. LCFP aims to catalyse a conservation economy in Eastern Zambia that will create jobs, improve social conditions and attract new investment.
The new 20-year agreement signed between BCP, Peace Parks Foundation and Eni aims to address this risk and ensure that LCFP communities economically transform alongside improved conservation co-management of key wildlife habitats. Eni’s step to partner with an African conservation NGO and an African social enterprise in a multi-year, multi-project pipeline plan is a pioneering leadership step.
Antonio Baldassarre, Senior Vice President REDD+ and Africa Program for Eni stated that: “Eni is one of Africa’s largest energy investors and has been active in the continent since 1954. To Eni, protecting African forests and biodiversity, creating community wealth are logical and important components on how we operate and how we can contribute to delivering the UN Sustainable Development Goals, all important constituences of our decarbonization strategy. The scale and longevity of this Partnership will help ensure LCFP can continue to be a leading conservation project recognised for its quality and positive contribution towards both the people and landscape of Zambia.”
Mr. Werner Myburgh, CEO of Peace Parks Foundation added: “The biggest challenge of our time is to ensure co-existence between humans and nature, and this project is an exemplary conservation success story, because not only will this be achieved, but both will truly thrive. We laud Eni for stepping up to join a partnership that is leading the way in making an impact at a scale that is vital to help mitigate climate change and maintain biodiversity.”
According to Dr. Hassan Sachedina, BCP CEO: “Successful community-based conservation efforts to reduce deforestation requires sustainable incentives. Signing a 20 year partnership agreement de-risks our community partners and resonates deeply with BCP’s mission of making conservation of wildlife habitat valuable to people. In 2020, direct payments to 12 communities will be $2.6 million (38 Million Zambian Kwacha).”
In 2018, Peace Parks facilitated a historic seven-year offset purchase agreement for BCP’s forest carbon work with luxury goods company, Richemont. Richemont’s commitment to reduce their company emissions through BCP offset purchases also support ongoing forest conservation and social impact projects in Zambia.