The Lower Zambezi REDD+ Project is the first pilot REDD+ project in Zambia. The project area encompasses about 39,000 hectares of valuable primary Miombo forest. It is located adjacent to the Lower Zambezi National Park and provides a 60-kilometer buffer between the national park and the communal areas. The Lower Zambezi National Park together with the Mana Pools National Park in Zimbabwe, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, forms part of a globally important transfrontier conservation area that is home to about 23,000 elephants. The project area provides a habitat for other threatened species such as lions, leopards, sable and roan antilopes. The project supports more than 8,000 community members that live in the project area by creating alternative sources of income, improving agricultural practices and investing in education, healthcare and drinking water facilities.
The project protects about 39,000 hectares of valuable Miombo forest and provides a safe refuge for threatened wildlife, protecting it from widespread poaching for bushmeat and trophy markets. The local implementing partner BioCarbon Partners works with community members in order to introduce improved and diversified agricultural practices, which will in turn take pressure from the forest on a long-term basis. This includes trainings on crop rotation, soil conservation and sustainable charcoal production. The project achieved triple-gold certification under the CCB Standard for its outstanding climate, community and biodiversity benefits. This is the first and so far only project in Africa that has achieved this.
Social and economical benefits
Income levels of the 8,000 inhabitants in the project zone are extremely low with the poverty rate being estimated to be as high as 88 percent. Strong community benefits ensure a long-term commitment to protecting forests and wildlife. Alternative sources of income and new jobs are created through the introduction of eco-charcoal in sustainably managed set-aside areas of community forest. Local community members benefit from trainings in small-scale livestock, as well as honey and poultry production. Income from carbon finance is also used to improve education, health and water supply infrastructure.