The African continent is anticipated to experience more than its fair share of climate change’s negative impacts. From extreme weather patterns to losses in crop productivity to an overall decrease in the quality of life for both the people and wildlife that call Africa “home,” the effects of a changing climate are only continuing to accelerate.
Deforestation throughout Africa is also troubling—while the continent is home to 17 percent of the world’s forests, it is losing them at four times the rate of the global average.
A key component of AWF’s climate change mitigation efforts are Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+) projects. Through REDD+, landowners are incentivized to protect and improve the quality of their forests. Landowners can sell carbon credits to generate revenue to offset the drivers of deforestation and to protect the forests. This is a vital tool, especially for forest-dependent communities who lack other economic alternatives.
AWF has been collaborating with partners in southern Kenya on the Chyulu Hills REDD+ project. This robust collaboration includes the local landowners, Kenya Forest Service, Kenya Wildlife Service, Big Life International, The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, Maasai Wilderness Conservation Trust, Conservation International and Wildlife Works. The project spans 420,000 hectares, protecting not only the Chyulu Hills cloud and lava forests, but also the surrounding savannah woodlands. Thanks to the great collaboration, this project has been validated by VCS and CCB.
The positive impacts of ensuring the Chyulu Hills forests endure go beyond climate change mitigation. Revenue from the carbon credits sold is re-invested into community projects, as determined by the community members themselves. These include providing financial support to the community school, supplementing the salaries of forest or game scouts, and safeguarding the Chyulu Hills water catchment, which supplies water to an estimated 6 million people downstream.
Additionally, the project lies between two major national parks in the landscape: Tsavo and Amboseli. By ensuring the protection of the forests, the Chyulu Hills REDD+ project is also maintaining a critical wildlife corridor, allowing wildlife to safely migrate from park to park in search of food, water and calving grounds.
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