Carbon Tanzania has been collaborating with the Hadza Hunter-gatherer communities of the Yaeda Valley for the past 5 years, supporting them to protect their traditional forested lands where their ancient lifestyle sees them living off the wildlife-rich savannah woodlands. By enforcing their land rights that enshrine a plan to never farm the woodlands, forest carbon offsets are generated through an internationally recognized standard. The application of this standard allows us to prove that these forest conservation efforts lead to a reduction of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. The standard demands that the effectiveness of our work with the communities is “verified” after a period of 5 years, meaning that a third party expert visits the project area, analyses our monitoring data and reports, and checks that the communities have genuinely received the benefits that the carbon payments bring. In this blog, our projects manager David describes this visit by expert verifiers from EPIC Sustainability.
I spent the last week completing a Verification visit in the Yaeda Valley, perhaps both the most challenging and fulfilling exercise of my time so far with Carbon Tanzania. Organizationally the visit also marked a crucial step in Carbon Tanzania’s continuous development and seemed to be a landmark moment.
We were joined by two verifiers from Epic Sustainability, a Plan Vivo Foundation certified verifier from India, who have been awarded best verification company byenvironmental finance for three years running. We at Carbon Tanzania have countless examples of anecdotal evidence showing the success of the Yaeda project, but the data gathering and presentations prepared for the verification process clarified and quantified exactly how much of an impact we are having on the ground. Notably the recent Landsat analysis provided by our partner The Nature Conservancy every five years showed that deforestation is now occurring at a rate that is 20 times slower in the project area compared to the rate in the surrounding area.
The visit itself was a culmination of a long process of preparation. This included organizing our office and filing systems, digitizing a lot of our records and community correspondence as well as updating our project databases. It was quite a lot of office work for our field loving team but was ultimately worth it.
The verification process executed by a third-party verifier such as Epic is crucial in guaranteeing that offsets produced are real, the results are measurable and the benefits are permeating all levels of the community.
The preparation payed off as the visit went well, demonstrated by successful meetings with the Hadza communities as well as the village governments, and plenty of overwhelmingly positive feedback and comments for the verifiers. The communities claim to be seeing considerable benefits financially but also critically at an environmental and livelihood level.
An added benefit to the Carbon Tanzania team, as well as the verifiers, was the opportunity to camp in some lovely sites in Yaeda, all of which overlook large sections of forest and allow one to understand the landscape and the project at a higher level, literally and figuratively. Besides the practicality of these campsites the views of unspoiled woodland are also undeniably inspiring no matter how many times one visits.
We look forward to sharing the forthcoming feedback from the verifiers in the near future.