Africa’s First Large-Scale Forestry Project Under the Kyoto Protocol

Africa’s largest forestry project is now registered under the Clean Development Mechanism of the Kyoto Protocol.

The Humbo Assisted Natural Regeneration Project in Ethiopia aims to create both economic and social benefits to poor communities, as well as environmental benefits. The project will cut an estimated 880,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere over the next 30 years.

The international development agency World Vision developed the project in partnership with the World Bank. World Vision Australia CEO Tim Costello said it will help to alleviate poverty while also addressing climate change.

“While the income from the carbon credits is a welcome bonus, other tangible benefits from the project come from building resilience against climate impacts," Costello said.

The Humbo Project 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 tons worth of carbon credits (by 2017), of which the World Bank’s BioCarbonFund will purchase 165,000 tons 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 US$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% 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,” says Ms. 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,” Andersen said.

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.

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 realization 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% of GDP and 80% 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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