The Business of conservation in the 21st Century
Making nature conservation work for local communities
It is Tanzania’s only provider of nature-based carbon credits, and the only organisation creating measurable and verifiable climate mitigation impacts for the country through investments in nature.
Carbon Tanzania has invested in forest conservation initiatives that generate carbon credits enabling Tanzania’s indigenous resource-owners to earn revenues from the protection of their natural resources. Businesses, both within Tanzania and across the world, purchase these carbon credits, allowing them to invest in a nature-based solution that combats climate change, supports indigenous communities and protects wildlife, while contributing to the delivery of the Sustainable Development Goals.
Carbon Tanzania’s unique business approach to conservation
Carbon Tanzania has pioneered a unique business approach to conservation that involves partnering with forest communities across Tanzania to realise real value from their natural resources. Carbon Tanzania’s dynamic, young and energetic management teams are integrated into participating communities and work closely with local government officials to implement land-use plans and local bylaws. This fosters project longevity and ensures that trees are prevented from being cut down, protecting wildlife and benefiting people. The projects generate jobs in rural areas and make locally driven socio-economic development a reality.
To date, Carbon Tanzania has developed three forest conservation projects across Tanzania (see box below). The first, located in the Yaeda Valley of northern Tanzania within Mbulu District and developed in partnership with the Hadza hunter-gatherer indigenous people, protects an area of dryland savannah that is owned by the Hadza through a Certificate of Customary Right of Occupancy (CCRO) and that constitutes their traditional, cultural heartland. The Makame Savannah project is being implemented in the Makame Wildlife Management Area by the Masai pastoralists living in five villages in Kiteto District, and it protects seasonal grazing areas for the Masai and their livestock. Finally, the Ntakata Mountains project involves eight villages in Tanganyika District in western Tanzania managing and protecting their remote miombo woodlands that also provide a home to Tanzania’s largest population of wild Chimpanzees.
Carbon Tanzania has created contractual arrangements with communities, ensuring that indigenous people remain the legal owners of the forests and are able to benefit from carbon finance. These contracts are founded on the increasingly recognised understanding that indigenous people are the most effective stewards of nature, and it means that the projects contribute towards international commitments to protect nature while addressing climate change. As the legal owners of the resources, the communities are also responsible for investing, disbursing and accounting for the use of the revenues, a process which demands local governance systems to be strong and transparent, and creates and environment of accountability throughout the community.
What is a forest-based Carbon Credit?
The cash revenues earned by the project communities come from the sale of what are known as “carbon credits”. A carbon credit represents either the permanent removal of a tonne of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, or the avoidance of one tonne of carbon dioxide being emitted, through changes in land use or energy generation. Carbon Tanzania’s forest-based carbon credits are regularly verified using the REDD monitoring and reporting framework and its related methodologies. These internationally certified projects must demonstrate that they also result in measurable social and biodiversity benefits in order to attract the best prices in the global voluntary carbon market.
The certification of carbon credits provides the link to international finance that enables local communities to earn revenues from the protection of their natural resources. For years communities have borne the majority of the costs of conservation, but this new approach to conservation allows them to benefit from a commitment to manage and conserve nature.
Globally, governments, businesses and investors are increasingly taking action to reduce their carbon emissions in moves to address runaway climate change, and in the past 18 months industrial giants and technological titans such as Google, Apple, Microsoft, Amazon and Tesla have lead the way to setting net zero targets. Many such companies have committed to eliminate carbon emissions from their operations by 2050, some as early as 2035, and until they can do this, they have promised to buy carbon credits to compensate their current emissions. This presents a massive opportunity for countries, companies and communities who can generate carbon credits, especially those based on the protection of nature.
Protecting existing forests is one of the most cost-effective ways to mitigate climate change, and conserving forests brings about positive and measurable economic, social and environmental benefits to local communities, and more often than not also protects important biodiversity.
Agriculture, deforestation and land use change contribute about a quarter of global carbon emissions, but in Tanzania these activities are responsible for over 70% of the country’s total emissions. Shifting agriculture conducted by migrant farmers is the main driver of deforestation across much of Tanzania. This conversion of land threatens the existence of forest communities, as well as Tanzania’s iconic wildlife. While Tanzania’s world-beating network of National Parks and Game Reserves protects important populations of globally recognised species such as giraffes, lions and elephants, the large expanses between these protected areas receive little investment, and this threatens the connectivity between them that allows for healthy wildlife populations to survive and thrive. Village communities and District authorities are often the stewards of these areas of dryland forests and savannahs that connect protected areas and their contribution has often been underestimated and undervalued.
In Tanzania, and other developing countries, this carbon finance model encourages communities to protect local forests, ecosystems and wildlife, making it economically worthwhile for them to do so. The world has signalled its desire to fund the protection of nature as an effective way to also mitigate climate change, and so countries that are prepared to invest in the protection of their forests have a genuine opportunity to realise value from their natural assets in a way that allows them to fund socio-economic development.
Tanganyika villagers receive historic payments for Forest Conservation
The communities of the Ntakata Mountains receive their first major carbon payments from the Ntakata Mountains project.
In May this year, the eight village communities who implement the Ntakata Mountains REDD Project, conducted meetings in which they learned that they had earned over TZS1.3BN in revenues as their share of sales of carbon credits from their project over the past 6 months. This is an historic moment in the global fight against climate change, and provides evidence of a genuine nature-based economy emerging that can support rural livelihoods while respecting and protecting natural resources.
These payments have been earned in return for the villagers’ efforts to protect their natural forests, legally defined as Village Land Forest Reserves. The forests are an important water catchment area for the Katuma River that provides water for rice farming and is the lifeblood of Katavi Plains National Park. The forests are culturally important to the indigenous Tongwe and Bende people and supply local communities with a range of food and medicinal plants. The forests also form a huge part of the habitat used by Tanzania’s largest population of eastern Chimpanzee, an endangered species of Great Ape, as well other important wildlife species such as African Hunting Dog and Savannah Elephant.
The meetings that were held in May are part of Carbon Tanzania’s business approach that recognises the local, forest owning communities as an equal partner in the efforts to protect the forests. Representatives of Carbon Tanzania’s field engagement team announced the revenues that were available, and were also present to listen to the discussions of the village and District officials who will decide on the use of these funds, and will be responsible for accounting for the disbursements too.
The villages participating in the Ntakata Mountains project are Mwese, Katuma, Lugonesi, Lwega, Kagunga, Mpembe, Bujombe, Kapanga. These communities, in cooperation with the Tanganyika District Authority, will make plans for the budgeting, disbursement and use of these revenues in line with local and national development priorities, and in order to fulfil the obligations of the contract. The next revenue announcement will be made in November 2021 and will represent the sales achieved in the period May 2021 to October 2021. The amount of revenue available at that time is currently not known, and will depend on the volumes sold in the Voluntary Carbon Market, and the prices obtained for the carbon credits.
Carbon Tanzania’s work in numbers
[Target wildlife species]
Each year Carbon Tanzania’s projects ensure that 850,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions are avoided, and 1.5 million trees are prevented from being cut down.
Carbon Tanzania’s projects and their associated activities contribute to achieving 11 of the SDGs.
- 25 village communities across Tanzania are now protecting their forests in partnership with Carbon Tanzania.
- 90,000 people across Tanzania benefit from the forest conservation projects.
- Village communities have earned US$1,646,770 from carbon finance
- Over 100 people are now directly employed in forest conservation.
- Community Scouts are trained in wildlife monitoring and forest protection and are proficient in the use of SMART technology.
Yaeda Valley project
- Protects 32,000 ha of dryland forest in northern Tanzania.
- Ancestral rangeland of the Hadza hunter-gatherers who have lived in the landscape for thousands of years.
- Connects to the Ngorongoro Highlands making it an important ecosystem for migratory wildlife.
- Certified by the Plan Vivo Foundation
- The development of the Yaeda Valley project was made possible due to critical land-rights work done by landscape partners Ujumaa Community Resource Team, the Dorobo Fund and The Nature Conservancy
Makame Savannah project
- Protects 364,322 ha of dryland forest in northern Tanzania.
- The Masai protect the wildlife rich Makame Wildlife Management Area by supporting and strengthening traditional grazing practices.
- Contributes to the protection of a critical dispersal area for wildlife in the Tarangire-Manyara ecosystem.
- Certified by Verra (VCS & CCB)
- Carbon Tanzania’s landscape partners in Makame WMA include The Honeyguide Foundation, The Nature Conservancy and The Wildlife Conservation Society, all of whom support the WMA to implement their wildlife protection activities.
Ntakata Mountains Project
- Protects 216,994 ha of Miombo woodland in western Tanzania.
- Communities protect habitat for the endangered eastern chimpanzee through creating village forest reserves.
- Enhances connectivity in the Greater Mahale ecosystem between Katavi Plains and Mahale Mountains National Parks.
- Certified by Verra (VCS & CCB)
- Carbon Tanzania’s project development work in the Ntakata Mountains was supported by both The Nature Conservancy and Pathfinder International, who continue to collaborate in some key project activities.