Voi, Kenya – Wildlife Works, the world’s leading REDD+ (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation) project development and management company with an effective approach to applying innovative market based solutions to the conservation of biodiversity, has just announced a $10 million deal to launch a conservation and sustainable land use project in Taita Hills, south-eastern Kenya.
The project, in partnership with the Luxembourg-based Althelia Climate Fund, which has been set up to demonstrate that competitive financial returns can be fully aligned with the preservation of natural capital and social development, aims to protect approximately 200,000 hectares of threatened natural forest and savannah grassland ecosystems and bring vital economic development benefits to local communities.
Deforestation and forest degradation are the second leading cause of global warming responsible for about 15% of global greenhouse gas emissions. Kenya is one of the hardest hit countries in Africa when it comes to deforestation. Agriculture and public or private development projects have taken a heavy toll in its forests; only 3% of the nation remains under forest cover, much of it threatened by illegal logging, grazing and firewood collection. The Taita Hills are renowned for their moist forests that support a variety of endemic plants and animals but have suffered heavily from rampant deforestation.
In tackling this dire issue, Wildlife Works will implement the project utilizing the United Nations initiative REDD+ mechanism. The UN-REDD programme supports nationally led carbon-emission off-setting schemes and promotes involvement of all stakeholders including local communities. Mike Korchinsky, Founder and CEO of Wildlife Works, said, “With the Althelia Climate Fund’s support for the Taita Hills Project, the community has a chance to have their broad development needs addressed including education, health, jobs, housing, food and water, and security. Althelia’s investment enables us to deliver tangible economic benefits on day one, allowing the community to choose to shift their lifestyle towards a green development path.”
The Taita Hills REDD+ Project aims to reduce 30-million tons of greenhouse gas emissions over the 30-year life of the project through the avoidance of deforestation and forest degradation. The project will also facilitate the regeneration of already degraded areas. “We are inspired by Wildlife Works’ innovative conservation and community engagement know-how,” said Christian del Valle, Managing Partner at Althelia Climate Fund. “We have seen proof that their model works to stop deforestation and transform a community by engaging and enabling local people to directly solve their own problems. We are delighted to have the opportunity to help this leading-edge company scale their successful model.”
The Taita Hills Project will build upon the success of Wildlife Works’ well-known Kasigau Corridor REDD+ Project. This was the world’s first REDD+ project to receive issuance of carbon credits and is the world’s first VCS REDD+ mega-project, in that it will result in the avoidance of over 1 million tons of CO2-e emissions per year for the next 30 years.
The financing provided by the Althelia Climate Fund will facilitate Wildlife Works nearly doubling the area of forest and wildlife protection they provide in south-east Kenya, and will extend the social impact to new communities. The expanded protection covers all remaining wilderness in an essential wildlife conservation corridor that connects Tsavo East and Tsavo West National Parks and brings sustainable economic development to over 200,000 local landowners and community members.