WORKING WITH COMMUNITIES TO REDUCE DEFORESTATION AND ALLEVIATE POVERTY IN THE VIRUNGA-HOYO REGION
- Reference: P-CD-C00-037
- Approval date: 28/11/2014
- Start date: 28/11/2015
- Appraisal Date: 15/11/2013
- Status: ApprovedAPVD
- Implementing Agency: Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS)
- Location: Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)
This project aims to reduce deforestation and forest degradation in the Virunga-Hoyo region of DRC's North Kivu whilst simultaneously alleviating poverty by creating economic incentives for poor local people through reduced deforestation and building capacity of park authorities to conserve the forest.
The project has four (4) components based on CBFF's thematic areas of intervention:
(i) forest management and sustainable practice,
(ii) livelihoods and economic development,
(iii) ecological and socio-economic monitoring and baselines, and
(iv) benefits from carbon markets and payment for ecosystem services. Project coordination and management makes up a fifth component. The project's activities are summarized in the table below:
Given in part its size and location in the heart of tropical Africa, DRC exhibits high levels of biodiversity at both the ecosystem and species level. The forests of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) represent 60% of the surface area of forests in the Congo Basin. However, the forest ecosystems of the country are under great threat: DRC has the highest rate of deforestation amongst Congo Basin countries. Rates of deforestation in eastern DRC (8.5% p.a. inside Virunga National Park - VNP - between 2000 and 2005) are considerably higher than the Congo Basin average (0.19% p.a.), as is population density and poverty. Created in 1925 and covering 784,368 ha, VNP (the first park and first natural World Heritage Site in Africa) was classified as a World Heritage Site in Danger in 1994 in order to protect its ecological capital. Charcoal collection, timber harvesting and conversion to agriculture are threatening forests in the Virunga-Hoyo region. Insecurity by rebel groups has weakened ICCN's capacity to manage protected areas (at the time of writing the proposal, Mont Hoyo Reserve had no ICCN presence at all, and it is still very limited) and the unprotected Virunga-Hoyo forest corridor is disappearing despite its importance for the conservation of chimpanzees and okapis.
The proposed project will bring together in partnership a private company, conservation organizations, a national protected area authority (Institut Congolais pour la Conservation de la Nature - ICCN) and local communities to work out ways to reduce the rate of deforestation whilst improving local livelihoods through carbon conservation. It takes an innovative, multidisciplinary approach in order to address issues of both demand and supply, involving:
(i) avoided deforestation and potentially also agro-forestry aiming for carbon funding through existing carbon markets and potentially also the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) regulated market post-2012;
(ii) reforestation and promotion of fuel-efficient stoves potentially targeting funding from the regulated UNFCCC Clean Development Mechanism (CDM); and
(iii) improved certified cocoa and other crops markets that promote tree planting and shade-tree cropping, through certification processes such as Organic, Fair Trade, carbon, and sustainability certification (UTZ). The project will bring about transformation in the livelihoods and behaviour of communities living in the region, including a demographically and professionally diverse range of stakeholders. It is expected that people will move from reliance on shifting agriculture to a more stable and efficient system of farming that avoids regular forest clearance and provides incentives to conserve and manage the forest sustainably through carbon and other types of sustainable financing.
CONFORMITY WITH THE COMIFAC CONVERGENCE PLAN
No.2: Knowledge of the Resource
- Inventory of carbon stocks in standing forests and agroforestry plantations
-Baseline wildlife surveys by project team and monitoring by ICCN and communities throughout Virunga-Hoyo region - Increased knowledge of organic agriculture, agroforestry and conservation by rural communities
No. 6 Alternative and Improved Livelihoods
- REDD funding should provide long-term sustainable supplement to income for households in the corridor - Social or biodiversity co-benefits may increase value of carbon credits and increase amount/proportion going to community - At least 2500 farmers produce and sell Organic-certified cocoa and increase use of agro-forestry produce as alternative sources of income to cutting down forest
No.9: Development of Funding Mechanisms."REDD income compensates farmers and communities for conserving forest
- REDD income funds ICCN's management of VNP/MHR - Various other types of carbon income (e.g. CDM or voluntary markets for reduced emissions or aforestation/reforestation) provide long-term funding to implement more projects and compensate people for changing behaviour
No.3. Management of ecosystems and reforestation
-Management of VNP and MHR improved - Capacity building of ICCN - Reforestation via school tree nurseries programme
No.4. Biodiversity conservation -Strengthening the links between VNP and MHR by developing a new protected area to link the two and building capacity of rangers and communities to manage biodiversity, including joint training of rangers
No.7. Capacity building, stakeholder participation, information, training - Capacity building of ICCN - infrastructure, equipment and training - Capacity building of communities - equipment, training and market access - Communities involved in mapping, monitoring and managing corridor zone - Community outreach to gain support for REDD project
COORDINATION WITH EXISTING INITIATIVES
Project activities will be coordinated with other initiatives relating to VNP through the existing ICCN-led CoCoSi and with ICCN processes and activities at the national level via the CoCoCongo mechanism. Coordination with other carbon-based initiatives in the region, with relevant pilot projects beyond, and with evolving global-level policy (UNFCCC, REDD, etc.) will be provided by WCS, WWF, ZSL and the Conservation Company and strengthened via Coordination with national-level REDD readiness activities, the development of a national REDD strategy and implementation of specific initiatives such as FCPF and the UN REDD project will be assured through frequent contacts between the Kinshasa offices of WCS and WWF and appropriate national authorities and, on the global scale, with World Bank offices and staff in Washington DC. Internal six-monthly project REDD/PES steering committee meetings will serve to disseminate this information between project partners.
For example, WCS has recently engaged a regional climate change technical advisor for Central Africa, based in Brazzaville, whose mandate includes DRC and who will ensure the close coordination of all REDD projects in which WCS is engaged within the region with national REDD strategies, with national authorities involved in REDD coordination and with regional frameworks and priorities where those have been formulated (e.g. by COMIFAC).
Further coordination with other actors in the rapidly evolving carbon world will be assured through the involvement of groups such as Woods Hole Research Centre for remote sensing and socio-economic monitoring and Plan Vivo for combining carbon payments with social and environmental co-benefits.
SUSTAINABILITY The REDD pre-feasibility study will determine the timescale over which REDD can be delivered, being contingent on an appropriate legal and institutional framework. This is being developed through DRC's national REDD strategy. If our planned REDD activities cannot be completed within three years we would seek a CBFF extension or alternative funds.
Carbon revenues by nature are an ideal source of sustainable financing, with REDD funding dependent only right now upon agreement on a post-2012 framework to provide the basis for long-term revenues to local communities. However, the project will give due consideration to all possibilities for sustainable financing beyond fund-based REDD initiatives, in coordination with national level activities where possible. Funding under the voluntary carbon market is an option the project will consider, as well as other PES mechanisms that might be relevant. There is also an option for carbon financing from the introduction of more fuel efficient stoves. Many groups have been successful in gaining credits in this way, giving farmers a new source of income while lowering their fuel acquisition costs and reducing the strain on forested areas.
In addition, the farmers involved in the agroforestry component in the buffer zone will benefit from cocoa income over the medium to long term (after 3 years and for up to 20-25 years), with premiums for Organic and Rainforest Alliance and potentially also climate certification, as well as income from the harvest of timber once their trees are mature. Within a diversified agroforestry system with shade crops, the cocoa harvest should produce both cash and food crops over an extended period, therefore reducing forest clearance for agriculture.
As women's associations buy the fuel-efficient stoves wholesale, they have a strong incentive to make a return on their investment, thus ensuring regular sales. Once a household has bought a stove it should last beyond the lifetime of the project and during that time will have saved many times its purchase cost, encouraging a repeat purchase.
The training of ICCN in participatory techniques and ICCN/communities in biomonitoring will build capacity for both parties to manage their forests better, and improve relations thus facilitating joint forest conservation actions. The project will strengthen ICCN's capacity to protect and manage the Watalinga forest and MHR in the short term (for the duration of the project) through patrol support (ranger salary bonuses and rations) and over the longer term through infrastructure rehabilitation and equipment supply (e.g. patrol posts and a patrol boat), training (in patrol-based monitoring, other types of biomonitoring and community outreach) and the development of REDD financing or some other form of payments for ecosystem services (PES) to the ICCN-managed protected areas. The ability of ICCN to protect its forests will be increased by simultaneously working with communities outside its protected areas to reduce the pressures currently being exerted on the remaining forest, by developing alternative sources of income from cocoa and incentivising them to avoid deforestation of the entire corridor zone (including inside VNP and MHR) by making REDD income conditional on reduced deforestation throughout the entire corridor. In this way co-management of the corridor by ICCN and the local communities would be tied to these shared benefits. At present, we cannot say exactly how the corridor will be managed to reduce deforestation and degradation, as this requires further and more detailed consultation with all relevant stakeholders. One option would be to give it Natural Reserve status, in which case ICCN would manage it with communities being allowed to access the forest for certain forest products. Another option would be to create a community reserve where the community is responsible for the management of the corridor
VINQVIST Mette - OSAN