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Albertine Rift, Uganda

Project updates and farmer profiles can be seen on COTAP’s blog and the project’s most recent annual report and COTAP’s transactions with it are in our Transparency section.

Interactive Map


To view individual farmer details, click on the menu icon at top left, select a region or “landscape,” and pick a farmer. A bigger version is here.

Overview


Ecotrust’s Trees for Global Benefits (TFGB) project, located in within the Albertine Rift valley in Uganda, is a small-scale, farmer-led agroforestry program which produces long-term, Plan Vivo-accredited emissions reductions while measurably improving farmer livelihoods and emphasizing sustainable land-use practices.  Uganda, in sub-Saharan East Africa, is amongst the poorest countries in the world, ranked 163th of 187 countries in the UNDP’s 2014 Human Development Index.  The TFGB project began as a pilot in the Bushenyi district in 2003, and the pilot’s success has led to expansion into the districts of Rubirizi, Mitooma, Kasese, Hoima, and Masindi, as well as into the Mount Elgon ecosystems of Rwenzori, Mbale, Manafwa, Bududa, Bulambuli, and Sironko.

Community and Socio-Economic Impacts


In 2016, a total of 749 smallholder households and community groups performed plantings which will sequester an estimated 84,149 tonnes of carbon dioxide.  Distributions to TFGB project farmers during the 2016 calendar year were $330,504.77.  A 2009 study on the socio-economic benefits of this project (downloadable in the “Additional Project Document(s)” section at right) surveyed 768 households from 168 villages in 3 districts.  The study found that carbon payment contracts averaged USD $904 over 10 years for a woodlot on 1 hectare (2.47 acres), where most participants held title to between .5 and 2 hectares.

Multiple Benefits at Both Household and Community Levels

The first thing most participants do when they receive their carbon funds is to pay school fees.  In addition, many have used their earnings to purchase household items such as mattresses, televisions, and cellphones.

In addition to farmers’ direct payments for planting trees and sequestering carbon, the project was also found to contribute to income stability, food security, and fuel security at the household level.  Sometimes participants receive their carbon payments during times of shortfalls of their agricultural harvests.  In such cases, project participants now have the option of purchasing food to compensate for shortfalls.  This stimulates the local economy by creating income for food vendors who did not experience shortfalls.

It was also revealed that carbon payments served as credit security for loans, something previously inaccessible to the impoverished, rural participants.  Further, secondary and indirect benefits have been noted such as localized markets for seedlings, localized markets for contracted tree planting and maintenance, and health benefits from medicinal extracts from tree species such as Warbugia and Fagara.

Transparency and Accountability


The donation rate for the TFGB project is USD $9.90 per tonne, and the chart at right reflects the estimated distribution of funds based on the project’s most recent annual report released in February 2011.  A minimum of 45.9% of the carbon revenues from your donation to this project will go directly to the TFGB farmers.  Both initial and ongoing payments to individual farmers are proportional to the amount which they each plant on their own land, and their long-term payment schedules are dependent upon successful management of their plantings over time.

Farmer disbursements are front-loaded: the majority of the funds will be paid for verified tree plantings during the 2012 planting season, and the remainder of the payments are disbursed over a 10-year period as an incentive to ensure that farmers’ forestry stewardship follows the project design document (PDD, at right).  Farmers are paid over 10 years, with payments weighted as follows: 30% upon verification of plantings, 20% after the first year, 20% in year 3, 10% in year 5, and 20% in year 10.  In this way, staggered payments not only serve to ensure permanence of plantings, but also ensure a predictable and steady farmer income stream over time.

Uganda’s tropical climate and bimodal rainfall distribution enables two annual planting seasons between March and May and again between September and November.  COTAP donations will be pooled and utilized first for retiring a commensurate number of credits from this project’s existing carbon credit inventories, which are based on plantings and tree growth to date.  Pooled donations will then be matched with credits pertaining to upcoming planting seasons.

Community Consultation


As with all projects certified under the Plan Vivo standard, the participating community members have a significant and direct role in designing the project.  Participants are involved throughout the process, including tree species selection, seed gathering, seedling nursery building, tree planting, and overseeing trees’ protecting as they grow. Each farmer is also able to shape the project according to his or her needs and develop a strong sense of ownership throughout the project’s lifetime.

Ecotrust’s Holistic Approach

Ecotrust requires that participating farmers open individual bank accounts in which to deposit their earnings, and facilitates the opening of accounts for those not yet having them.  This fact alone benefits many participants by increasing their capacity for financial planning.  In some villages it was estimated that less than 10% of individuals either used a bank or informal credit institution such as a village savings club.  With the project, village banks are growing and becoming more sustainable as a growing number of participating farmers steadily adopt the practice of saving.

Each project community has a Community Carbon Fund (CCF) which is used both to fund community infrastructure assets as well as a risk-management mechanism which can fund re-plantings as necessary due to unplanned challenges such as fires.  Farmers contribute 10% of their planting earnings into the CCF.  Further, Ecotrust has implemented a communal monitoring system wherein a group of farmers from one parish assesses the completion and maintenance of another parish’s plantings farms and vice-versa, bolstered by an assigned Ecotrust coordinator’s followup verification via a 30% sample.

Trainings are for both current and prospective participants, and cover a wide range of topics such as nursery and tree management, verification and monitoring, carbon sequestration and climate change, carbon payments, and contributing to and accessing the Community Carbon Fund.

Positive Local Environmental Benefits

TFGB project sites are located in the buffer zones adjacent to national parks, forested areas and local forest reserves, including the Queen Elizabeth National Park (Bushenyi), Lake Albert (Hoima) and the Murchiston Falls National Park (Masindi).

The project employs two land use systems for mostly indigenous mixed and sole species woodlots on fragmented land plots near protected areas, explained in more detail in the downloadable Technical Specifications at right.  In addition to storing carbon and creating wages, both approaches provide benefits such as community farm diversification, improved erosion control and water quality, and self-replenishing fuelwood stocks.  Further, the system enables farmers to utilize and benefit from fragmented portions of their land which are difficult to access and/or maintain.

One of the most commonly-planted species is the Maesopsis emini, common to East, Central, and West Africa and one of the quickest growing trees in Uganda.  Maesopsis is popular for its ability to thrive under a wide range of environments and conditions, as well as its fast growth, ease of propagation, superior timber quality, and compatibility with shade-grown crops such as banana and coffee.

About Our Partner

The Environmental Conservation Trust of Uganda (Ecotrust) is a not-for-profit environmental conservation organization established in 1999.  Ecotrust is committed to creating and maintaining effective mechanisms to support financing and programming in natural resources and biodiversity conservation.  Ecotrust’s initiatives invest in people to improve their livelihoods while building partnerships to conserve Uganda’s natural heritage and biological diversity.

Limay, Nicaragua

Project updates and farmer profiles can be seen on COTAP’s blog and the project’s most recent annual report and COTAP’s transactions with it are in our Transparency section.

Interactive Map


Go here for an interactive Google map which shows all of the project’s plantings and participants!

Overview


Taking Root’s CommuniTree Project began near the rural municipality of San Juan de Limay in the province of Esteli, Nicaragua.  Nicaragua is the second poorest country in the Americas, after Haiti.  As of 2016, Taking Root has partnered with 65 different communities comprising 409 small-scale family farmers and spanning an area of 7,400 hectares.  As of the end of the 2016 planting season, the project had cumulatively planted 2.2 million trees.

Community and economic impacts


The project creates much seasonal employment and has helped generate income for many struggling families.  The number of trees planted each year grew from an initial 5,000 in 2010 to over 575,000 in 2016. To date, the trees planted by this project have generated over USD $617,000 for participating communities.

Transparency and Accountability


The donation rate for this project is USD $9.90 per tonne, and funds for this project will be used/distributed according to the chart at right.  A minimum of 54.5% of the carbon revenues from your donation to this project will go directly to the Limay farmers. Farmers sign contracts and begin the seedling development process in January of each year for trees to be planted in May and June.

COTAP’s guarantee of carbon revenues, directly stemming from donations by you and others, provides the financial backing that enables our partner Taking Root to plan early and reach more farmers.  Farmer disbursements are front-loaded: the majority of the funds will be paid for verified tree plantings during the 2013 planting season, and the remainder of the payments are disbursed over a 10-year period as an incentive to ensure that farmers’ forestry stewardship follows the project design document (PDD, at right).  Both initial and ongoing payments to individual farmers are proportional to the amount which they each plant on their own land, and their long-term payment schedules are dependent upon successful management of their plantings over time.

Community Consultation


As with all projects certified under the Plan Vivo standard, the participating community members have a significant and direct role in designing the project. Participants are involved throughout the process, including tree species selection, seed gathering, seedling nursery building, tree planting, and overseeing trees’ protecting as they grow. Each farmer is also able to shape the project according to his or her needs and develop a strong sense of ownership throughout the project’s lifetime.

Taking Root’s Holistic Approach


To make the CommuniTree project a long-term success, Taking Root has undergone extensive and rigorous feasibility assessments, project planning, and accreditation under the Plan Vivo carbon accounting standard.  The Limay project’s detailed Project Design Document (PDD) and Technical Specification can be found in the “Carbon Standards” section in the right sidebar of this page.

For example, interest-free loans are made to farmers so they can hire help while preparing their land and planting trees.  The project also distributes fuel-efficient cook stoves.  Such stoves use about one-third the amount of wood, thereby curtailing local CO2 emissions, and they provide second-order community benefits by reducing the time spent gathering fuel and the amount of smoke within people’s homes.

The project design also ensures a planting mix which addresses farmers’ short, medium, and long-term needs.  The planned harvesting of designated trees provides firewood and timber, and therefore an additional source of revenue.  These trees are planted specifically for this purpose and, when cleared, make room for the permanent trees to grow.  Designated clearing is part of the project plan and is covered under the project’s carbon accounting methodology which projects the project’s net CO2 removals.

Taking Root’s project design, deep level of community consultation, and measures way beyond simple payments-for-plantings address the root causes of deforestation and therefore maximize the Limay project’s prospects for enduring social and environmental success.

Positive Local Environmental Benefits


The San Juan de Limay watershed is an important ecosystem which has experienced degradation over time due to a combination of factors, including lack of knowledge and sustainable land use planning, illegal logging, clearing trees for pastureland, commercial agriculture, and the use of firewood for cooking.

The local impacts of deforestation include the exacerbation of natural disasters, soil erosion, floods, droughts and loss of arable land. This has severe effects for local subsistence farmers, who depend on their crops and cattle to survive.  So, it can be seen that the Limay project not only counteracts your CO2 emissions while making farmers more economically resilient, but it is also actively restoring environmental resources through a well-thought-out reforestation plan.

About Our Partner


Taking Root is a Canadian non-profit organization which sees tropical reforestation as a powerful tool to restore ecosystems, improve livelihoods and tackle climate change.  In collaboration with rural families in Nicaragua, Taking Root develops holistic reforestation projects that are funded through the sale of carbon offsets certified under the Plan Vivo Standard.  Taking Root’s vision is of a sustainable global community living in concert with the natural environment in order to support the livelihoods of present and future generations.

East Khasi Hills, India

Project updates and farmer profiles can be seen on COTAP’s blog and the project’s most recent annual report and COTAP’s transactions with it are in our Transparency section.

Overview


The Khasi Hills Community REDD+ Project is located in the remote northeast state of Meghalaya with Bangladesh to the south and Bhutan to the north. Spanning 27,000 hectares, it deploys strategies for both forest protection (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation, or “REDD”) and restoration (Assisted Natural Regeneration, or “ANR”). The project also provides detailed and long-term plans for improving the livelihoods of 4,400 households, 80 to 90% of which live below the poverty line. The region experienced a rapid 28% loss in forest cover between 2000 and 2005. Further, India ranks 136th of 186 countries in the UNDP’s 2012 Human Development Index, and annual incomes in the region are $490 for a family of 5 to 6.

Initial Impacts and Future Potential


In 2013, the project made its first $25,949 in community payments for 5,695 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions reductions. During the project’s initial phase from 2012-2021, it is anticipated that it can reach at least 20% of the lowest income households (1,000 households) improve their incomes by 25 to 50% not only through carbon revenue sharing, but also through other income-generating activities (IGA’s) described below.

Over its 30-year lifespan, the project will generate a total of 860,104 tonnes of CO2 emissions reductions. At COTAP’s rate of $9/tonne, this will generate over $7.5 million for Khasi Hills communities. Further, this project is one of the first REDD+ initiatives in Asia to be developed and managed by indigenous governments on communal lands, and it serves as a promising proof-of-concept which could be replicated among Northeast India’s 240 ethno-linguistic, tribal communities, both within Meghalaya and in neighboring states such as Manipur.

Transparency and Accountability


COTAP’s donation rate for the Khasi Hills project is USD $9.90 per tonne, of which we pass on $9 to our partner KSKHAW-UMWS, or the indigenous community’s Federation. Overall fund distribution projections are at right and are based on Table 3 of page 31 of the Project Design Document (PDD), downloadable at right. To verify and track COTAP’s disbursals to this project, as well as the respective, public carbon credit retirements, please see COTAP.org/Transparency.

Both Reducing Deforestation and Restoring Degraded Forests


The project provides proven strategies and funding for addressing the area’s root causes of deforestation. To reduce the number and severity of forest fires, firelines are being established, maintained, and monitored during the fire season. To reduce fuelwood collection, fast-growing plantations are being established near villages and will eventually meet up to 40% of fuelwood demand.

The project will provide training on the manufacture and installation of efficient cookstoves, with plans to distribute these to at least 80% of households in the first ten years. Though they can reduce fuelwood consumption by 30 to 50% while also improving health by eliminating indoor smoke, the project conservatively estimates a 15% reduction in years 1-5 and 25% in years 5-10. Further, government-subsidized solar cookers are being encouraged, and Federation representatives are seeking alternative income-generation activities to replace illegal charcoal-making in the two villages where it has been an issue.

In addition to the project’s fire and fuelwood strategies, communities are being encouraged to phase out uncontrolled cattle and goat grazing in favor of more productive and lower impact kroiler chickens, stall-fed pigs, and freshwater aquaculture ponds. The Federation is working with state agencies and mining owners to minimize quarrying and mining by negotiating site closures, building community awareness and sensitization, and providing training for alternative employment.

5,947 hectares or 22% of the project area are classified as “open forest” and will be targeted for Assisted Natural Regeneration (ANR) activities. ANR requires 10 person days per hectare for thinning, multiple coppice shoot cutting, and weeding undesirable species. ANR is extremely efficient, costing only 1 to 3% of plantation costs and results in accelerated forest regeneration with natural species and high survival rates. The project supports the treatment of 300 to 500 hectares annually over its first ten years.

Watershed and Biodiversity Benefits


In addition to generating CO2 emissions reductions which address the global problem of climate change, the project also brings a range of positive local benefits. It will improve soil quality, reduce erosion, and enhance moisture retention, making the area more resilient to fire, drought, and flooding. The project will protect, extend, and link subtropical alpine and evergreen cloud forest cover which is home to a unique mosaic of plants, including over 400 species of primitive angiosperms, orchids and fern. In addition, the project is establishing wildlife corridors for many rare and/or endangered fauna, including the binturong, pangolin, Chinese ferret-badger, leopard cat, flying fox, and serow.

Income Generating Activities (IGA’s) and Self Help Groups (SHG’s)


There are numerous income-generating activities (IGA’s) beyond distributing carbon revenues to the 62 communities for meeting benchmarks under their forest management plans, or Plan Vivos. One such IGA is the Animal Exchange Program, wherein the project provides support for the construction of stalls and pens to reduce grazing and improve villager livestock income from more intensive stall feeding. In addition, to promote saving and setting up small enterprises among the villages, the project will train and capitalize women to lead village banking groups, referred to as Self Help Groups (SHG’s).

About Our Partners


The Ka Synjuk Ki Hima Arliang Wah Umiam Mawphlang Welfare Society (KSKHAW-UMWS), also referred to as the Federation, is a non-profit organization representing 10 indigenous Khasi governments and their 62 villages. In August 2011, the Federation registered in the state of Meghalaya to serve as a unified legal entity for coordinating project management and engaging with project support partners, the Government of India, and organizations like COTAP.

Community Forestry International (CFI) is a U.S.-based non-profit which creates legal, institutional, technical, and financial strategies for forest communities in Asia at the village, national, and global levels. CFI has been working in northeast India since 2003. CFI organized successful REDD+ and livelihood pilots for the Khasi Hills project between 2005 and 2009, and was actively involved in the project’s design and registration under the Plan Vivo standard. CFI continues to advise and assist the project with capacity building, training, implementation, technical forestry expertise, monitoring, bookkeeping, and oversight of the administration of REDD+ project funds.