November 15, 2006 – In 2004, the average atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration reached 337.4 parts per million by volume. The impacts of rising CO2 concentrations and temperature are already visible worldwide and are arriving faster than feared, according to experts. The World Health Organization estimates that at least 160,000 people die annually due to climate change, and there is growing evidence linking this to observed ecological changes.
Mountain glaciers are shrinking at ever faster rates, threatening water supplies for millions of people and species. Closer to home it is estimated that 92 percent of Mt. Kenya’s largest glacier, the Lewis Glacier, has disappeared over the last 100 years. In Tanzania, Mt. Kilimanjaro lost 82 percent of its ice between 1912 and 2000, shrinking from 12 square kilometres to 2.6 square kilometres. Ice could disappear completely by 2015.
The Kyoto protocol of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) was developed as an attempt to confront and begin to reverse the rising carbon dioxide concentrations. By June 2005, 150 countries had ratified the protocol, including 34 of the 38 industrialized nations accounting for 61.6 percent of the industrialized nations’ emissions.
Green Belt Movement (GBM) is in the process of preparing a BioCarbon Fund Project in Kenya. The project will reforest 2,000 hectares in the Aberdares and Mt. Kenya Region in 2007 and 2008, making them suitable for generating emission reductions under definitions and modalities prescribed by the Kyoto Protocol and Marrakech Accords.
This Land Use, Land Use Change and Forestry (LULUCF) project is expected to have sequestered or conserved approximately 375,000 tCo2e by year 2017, but with a permanence of up to 2037 expected.
The Aberdare Range and Mt. Kenya are two of Kenya’s five “water towers” that act as catchment areas for the country’s major rivers. As well, these regions, some 160 km from Nairobi, are heavily populated. In the 1980s, forest degradation was at its highest due to logging of indigenous tree species, charcoal burning, and residential cultivation. After clear felling, in many cases the lands were converted to agriculture—either for housing estates, construction, tea, or the Shamba system—which includes a rotation of grazing and subsistence agriculture. Lands that were clear felled and not converted to agriculture tend to regenerate to low bushes and grasses rather than returning to natural forest. Pressure for fuel wood and charcoal production has continued to degrade the remaining forests.
Starting in 1977, the Green Belt Movement (GBM) has been changing the local population’s attitudes to forest exploitation through training and providing the technology, funding, and knowledge for tree planting on private lands. Since 1997, GBM has been focusing on planting indigenous species and fruit trees on public lands or private lands with high community access. The goal is to use the forest in a sustainable manner for a variety of products including honey, fodder, fuel wood, charcoal, medicinal, environmental services, and other uses in line with the new Forestry Act.
Following acceptance of the Project Idea Note, a Carbon Finance Document was developed and submitted in September 2005 for review by the BioCarbon Fund Investors. The project was then formally included in the portfolio of the BioCarbon Fund administered by the World Bank in September 2005.
This project has a major objective of allowing industrialized nations to gain emission offsets to meet their target through investing in project activities in non-industrialized nations like Kenya, and at the same time assisting in sustainable development.
GBM recognizes the fact that forest incomes are a vital economic buffer for people living in and around the forests, particularly for women, children, and the poorest households in a village community during periods of stress, such as seasonal shortages or crop failures.
GBM, on behalf of local Kenyan communities who are poor and endeavor to improve their livelihoods, has taken advantage of the advances created by the Kyoto Protocol in the creation of an international market for carbon credits. This market allows the payment of forest environmental services (emission reduction through forest management and carbon sequestration) and improves the value of some forest products by making it possible to undertake projects with a component in carbon substitution.
For the continuing sustainability of this BioCarbon project, GBM is taking four sustainability dimensions (social issues, economic issues, environmental issue, and institutional issues) into consideration.
1. Social issues: (Read the rest of the whole long project on this GBM page).