An important new project launched by JGI-Tanzania will demonstrate how traditional rural communities can lead -- and benefit from -- forest management initiatives that incorporate tracking of carbon data and the sale of earned carbon credits.
The project, which involves a variety of leading public and private partners, recently received a three-year, $2.7 million (USD) grant from the Royal Norwegian Embassy in Tanzania.
The project will give local communities and governments in a largely pristine area – the Masito-Ugalla Ecosystem – the tools and training to manage and monitor forests and to sell carbon credits in the global market through the financing mechanism known as Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD). Tropical deforestation accounts for about 17 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions,
and REDD was a hot topic at the recent UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen, which Dr. Goodall attended with JGI’s director of conservation science, Lilian Pintea.
"One of the major concerns raised at the Copenhagen conference is that traditional landowners won’t benefit from forest-based projects that reduce carbon in the atmosphere," said Dr. Goodall. "We will show how rural communities can lead REDD efforts, working together with governments to improve their lives, conserve the rich natural landscapes in which they live, and secure the future for generations to come."
The lessons learned from JGI’s efforts will also be able to guide other communities in Tanzania and elsewhere that wish to replicate the REDD process.
The project will conserve about 70,000 hectares in one of the last large expanses of intact forest in Tanzania, enhancing biodiversity and ecosystem functions such as provision of habitat for chimpanzees. Communities will be eligible to earn credits for the carbon stored in their protected forest areas. The income will help fund future forest management and improve community living conditions. The project will also support secondary use of forest products such as wild honey or medicinal plants.
To help communities inventory, monitor and manage the forest, JGI will provide training in a number of emerging technologies in partnership with Google, ESRI
. These include mobile Android/ODK
and web-based mapping systems along with Geographic Information System and high-resolution satellite imagery.
"Local communities will be able to interact directly with the global carbon marketplace and demonstrate unequivocally the concrete benefits of their efforts to protect the forest,” said Dr. Pintea. “As a result, local information will directly inform and influence national and global decisions regarding climate change."
JGI will also work to strengthen management practices among participating organizations and improve communication between the government, community-based groups and local residents.
“Global Climate Negotiations and Tropical Deforestation,” Resources for the Future, Nov. 17, 2009
-- Newsweek interview with Jane prior to UN Climate Conference