Africa’s First Big Forestry Project Registered Under Kyoto Protocol

NAIROBI, Kenya, March 9, 2010 – Ethiopia has become the first African country to register a large-scale forestry project under the Clean Development Mechanism of the Kyoto Protocol.

The Humbo Assisted Natural Regeneration Project has restored more than 2,700 hectares of degraded land in the impoverished highlands of southwestern Ethiopia since 2007.

Registration of the project by the United Nations enables the future sale of over 338,000 metric tonnes worth of carbon credits by 2017, furthering the goal of the Kyoto Protocol to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions.

The degraded hills of the Humbo Project area (Photo courtesy UNFCCC)

The World Bank’s BioCarbonFund will purchase 165,000 tonnes worth of these carbon credits.

With contributions from both public and private sectors, the BioCarbon Fund purchases emission reductions from afforestation and reforestation projects under the Clean Development Mechanism, as well as from land-use sector projects outside the CDM that reduce greenhouse gases.

The sale of carbon credits under the BioCarbon Fund will provide an income stream of more than US$700,000 to the Ethiopian local communities over at least 10 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 within the project area.

The Humbo Project is the largest World Bank forestry project in Africa to gain CDM registration.

“To date, Africa hosts less than two percent of all registered CDM projects. Promotion of land-use and forestry projects in this region is key to changing the status quo,” says Inger Andersen, director, sustainable development, Africa Region, for the World Bank.

“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,” Andersen said.

The project is expected to remove an estimated 880,000 metric tonnes of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere over the next 30 years.

The Humbo Project is the product of collaboration across organizations and continents, involving World Vision offices in Australia and Ethiopia, the World Bank, and the Ethiopian Environment Protection Agency, as well as local and regional governments and the community.

World Vision Australia CEO Tim Costello calls the project “a successful example of reforestation that alleviates poverty while also addressing climate change.”

Humbo area residents demarcate the project’s border. (Photo courtesy World Vision Ethiopia)

“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.”

According to World Vision project documents, the main causes of deforestation and forest degradation at Humbo have been tree cutting for fuel and construction materials to sell, especially to compensate for food shortages created by meagre rainfall over a long period of time.

World Vision Ethiopia National Director Tenagne Lemma 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,” she said. “This has now all changed.”

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, which encourages new growth from tree stumps previously felled but still living.

Using this method, indigenous biodiverse forest species, some of which are endangered, have been restored to the region, Lemma said.

“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,” she said.

Crocodile and pelicans at Lake Chomo, Ethiopia (Photo by Maurits Vermeulen)

As exciting as the carbon revenue is the income generated from the sale of fodder, forest fruits and eventually the selective harvest of wood products, she said.

Once regenerated, the Humbo forest will provide habitat for birds, mammals and other native animals as well as species identified on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

The forest will provide a strategic corridor link between the Nechisar National Park, Lake Abaya and Lake Chomo. The Nechisar National Park has some 73 species of mammals and 342 species of birds including two endemic birds.

Endangered species expected to benefit from the project include the Ethiopian banana frog, the Nechisar nightjar, the Ethiopian thicket rat, the Ethiopian large-eared roundleaf bat and the Ethiopian woolly bat.

Other species will also benefit including, the African wild dog, African lion, African sand fox, and lesser flamingo.

The strengths of the Humbo Project were publicly recognized by the Ethiopian government on World Environment Day last year. Two World Vision field officers were asked to join the nation’s climate change negotiating team.

To date, 13 forestry projects have been registered under the Clean Development Mechanism and this is the fifth land use, land-use change and forestry project to be registered in the World Bank’s BioCarbon Fund.

Click here for a closer look at the Humbo Ethiopia Assisted Natural Regeneration Project.

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