The Mai Ndombe REDD+ Project protects 300,000 hectares (740,000 acres) of critical bonobo and forest elephant habitat within the world’s second-largest intact rainforest and some of the most important wetlands on the planet, the Congo Basin. This project reduces the principal drivers of forest and biodiversity loss and is charting a new pathway for community prosperity through comprehensive investments into the surrounding local communities, which are among the most impoverished in the world. Such investments include building and renovating schools, providing healthcare services (such as access to immunizations), supporting food security and nutrition (such as through agricultural diversification), and providing capacity building activities that empower local communities.
13,322,276 tons of CO2 emissions avoided to date
2,400,000 tons of CO2 avoided per year tonnes
- Location: The Democratic Republic of the Congo
- Project Developer: Wildlife Works
- Standards: VCS, CCB
In the western part of the DRC, along the west side of Lake Mai Ndombe, almost 250,000 hectares of rainforest, highly valued by logging companies, were zoned for commercial timber extraction. This forest, which has one of the most important wetlands in the world, is home to bonobos, forest elephants and chimpanzees. The area is also home to over 180,000 people.
Prior to the project, logging companies had severely damaged the environment in the region, and had largely ignored the rights and health of the wildlife and community. Logging drove already threatened wildlife populations further down, and brought little to no economic benefit to the local people.
In 2008, following a revision by the government of the DRC National Forest Code, and in an effort to address corruption in the sector, 91 of the 156 logging contracts then in effect were suspended. After the moratorium was lifted, the government began reissuing the concessions. It was expected that these concessions would be rewarded to the original companies, or would go back to public tender for logging companies to bid on the concession.
One of the project’s founders identified a clause in the forest code indicating that if there were compelling humanitarian or environmental reasons why a concession award should be given without a public tender, then the concession could be awarded at the discretion of the Minister of Environment. The project founder successfully convinced the Ministry of the area’s conservation importance, and to award it to a REDD+ project instead as a conservation concession.
This was when Wildlife Works, in partnership with Era Ecosystem Services, implemented a REDD+ conservation strategy, using revenues from the sale of carbon to establish sustainable development opportunities for the local community while protecting the area from deforestation.
Since the launch of the project in 2011, logging in the area has halted
and with the help of reforestation programs, deforested areas have regenerated, bringing back important biodiversity and allowing for wildlife to thrive. To relieve deforestation pressure from the local community, the project has introduced sustainable farming techniques and agroforestry nurseries. Three schools have been built, with four more under construction, benefitting over 8,000 students. The project has also established a mobile medical clinic that treats thousands of patients who previously had little to no access to health care.
© Photos by Filip Agoo // CreateTheChange.tv.