- A new initiative to bring environmental and financial benefits to local communities in the impoverished highlands of Ethiopia was announced in Ethiopia yesterday.
The Humbo Assisted Natural Regeneration Project is Africa's first large-scale forestry project to be registered under the Clean Development Mechanism of the Kyoto Protocol. It will bring both economic and social benefits to poor communities in Ethiopia as well as environmental benefits as the project will cut an estimated 880,000 metric tonnes of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere over the next 30 years.
World Vision Australia CEO Tim Costello pointed to the Humbo Assisted Natural Regeneration Project, developed by the international development agency World Vision in partnership with the World Bank, as a highly successful example of reforestation that alleviates poverty while also addressing climate change.
“World Vision has been working with poor communities for more than 20 years to implement environmentally sustainable projects that create jobs and reduce poverty,” he said. “While the income from the carbon credits is a welcome bonus, other tangible benefits from the project come from building resilience against climate impacts.”
The Humbo Project is the product of collaboration across organisations and continents, involving World Vision offices in Australia and Ethiopia, the World Bank, the Ethiopian Environment Protection Agency, as well as local and regional governments and the community. It has restored more than 2,700 hectares of degraded land in Humbo in south-western Ethiopia since 2007. Registration of the Project by the United Nations enables the future sale of over 338,000 tonnes worth of carbon credits (by 2017), of which the World Bank’s BioCarbonFund will purchase 165,000 tonnes worth of carbon credits.
The BioCarbon Fund is an initiative with public and private contributions. It purchases emission reductions from afforestation and reforestation projects under the CDM, as well as from land-use sector projects outside the CDM, such as projects that reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD) and increase carbon sequestration in soils through improved agriculture practices.
The sale of carbon credits under the BioCarbon Fund will provide an income stream of more than $700,000 to the local communities over a minimum of ten years. Further revenue will be available to the community from the sale of carbon credits not purchased by the World Bank as well as from the sale of timber products from designated woodlots in the Project.
The Humbo Project is the largest World Bank forestry project in Africa to gain CDM registration. “To date, Africa hosts less than 2 percent of all registered CDM projects. Promotion of land-use and forestry projects in this region is key to changing the status quo. Without this, it will be difficult for a post-Kyoto climate regime to gain support from African countries. In this regard, the registration of this project has a special significance,” said Inger Andersen, Director, Sustainable Development (Africa Region) for the World Bank.
“We believe that this project will encourage project developers to scale up land–use and forestry initiatives in this region, thus allowing African countries to benefit from opportunities of growing carbon markets while providing local communities with additional social, economic and environmental benefits,” she said.
World Vision Ethiopia, National Director, Tenagne Lemma, said the strengths of the Humbo Project had been publicly recognised by the Ethiopian Government on World Environment Day last year followed by the secondment of two World Vision field officers to the nation’s climate change negotiating team. The “Humbo model” was also being replicated in other World Vision projects across the country.
“The steep slopes of the project site had been cleared since the early 1970s, and with almost no remaining trees, erosion and mudslides were common in the rainy season,” she said. “This has now all changed.
“The multiplying benefits to the community through improved land management and the flow-on benefits to people’s health, food security and livelihoods surpassed our most optimistic expectations. Even more exciting than the carbon revenue is the income generated from the sale of fodder, forest fruits and eventually the selective harvest of wood products that contributes to household livelihoods and the local economy, and which will far exceed the carbon revenue,” she explained.
While conventional approaches to reforestation require the costly replanting of trees from nursery stock, over 90 percent of the Humbo Project area has been reforested using Farmer Managed Natural Forest Regeneration (FMNR), which encourages new growth from tree stumps previously felled but still living. Using this method, a vast ‘underground forest’ has been unearthed and indigenous, biodiverse forest species, some of which are endangered, have been restored to this region.
To date, thirteen forestry projects have been registered under the CDM, and this is the fifth LULUCF project to be registered in the World Bank’s BioCarbon Fund. The development of such land use, land-use change and forestry (LULUCF) projects is crucial, particularly on a continent that generally has not seen the realisation of a large number of CDM projects.
The majority of Ethiopia’s 80 million people depend on agriculture for their living, which accounts for 50 percent of GDP and 80 percent of total employment. World Vision has worked in the Humbo area of Ethiopia since the great famine of 1984-85 when half a million people died.
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