You’ll often hear Carbon Tanzania talk about ‘our third-party standard’, in this case it’s the Plan Vivo Foundation based in Edinburgh. What the standard does, is guarantees that what we’re doing is real, mitigates climate change, protects biodiversity and of course provides revenue to communities. It is a guarantee to our clients that when you buy a forest carbon offset, the calculated emission reductions, and other expected benefits, to local ecosystems and livelihoods are delivered.
For us to use the standard, Plan Vivo dictates that at least every 5 years we should be verified or audited. To do this we contract a third-party organisation that verifies carbon projects across the globe. In our case with Epic Sustainability, rated the best verifier by Ecosystem Marketplace. The verification is not just based on our results in the Yaeda valley, but also Carbon Tanzania as an organisation, including compliance and company policies. This audit ensures that the Yaeda Valley REDD project continues to conform to the project document (PD) that was developed 5 years ago and sets out our plan for the next 20 years.
The first stage of the verification is a 5-day visit to the project area by two consultants from Epic, their objective not just to visit Yaeda but also to spend time talking to our partners, The Nature Conservancy and Ujamaa Community Resource Team. The field visit focused on village and community meetings, whilst I was a little apprehensive (it’s been a few years since I took an exam!), we received nothing but complements and support. It’s moments like these that you just sit and listen, realising that you’re having a real impact on peoples lives.
“The payments we receive from Carbon Tanzania are spent on school fees for Hadzabe students from Mongo wa Mono to study at Secondary Schools as well as hospital bills for community members and we buy maize to be shared during the times of hunger. The community scouts are also paid from this money, and they take care of our forest for us to stop illegal cutting of trees and grazing at times when it is prohibited. We are thankful to UCRT and Carbon Tanzania for this income that is so important to our welfare.”
-Athumani Magandula, resident of Mongo wa Mono and Chairman of the Hadzabe Survival Council.
Revenue dispersal is another a key part of project operations, if we aren’t able to sell our offsets and deliver revenue, the community lack the ability to enforce the land use plan. Revenue distribution, shown below, and how that money has been spent is closely monitored by the Carbon Tanzania team and the community to reduce ‘elite capture’, this is where individuals, rather than the community decide how revenue is dispersed. This is a key part of the audit and a major focus of many of the meetings.
Over the last five years Tshs580,000,000 has been transferred to the communities in Yaeda, the bulk of the revenue, 60%, shown in green, being used for food, to enable meetings and pay for transport. Community scout payments are of course critical to the project success.
Carbon Tanzania uses monthly monitoring within the project areas, this activity based monitoring ensures that any deviation from the land use plans, poaching or conflict is immediately recorded and reported to the village government. This reporting and of course the actions taken, form the core of ensuring we are issued our carbon offsets by Plan Vivo, so Epic evaluated the monitoring and recording process with the community scouts.
However, the real measure of our success has been in the evaluation of the satellite analysis, see below. The data shows very clearly what has happened over the last 5 years within the project area, leakage area and reference region (the surrounding area we use for our baseline measurement). As deforestation continues in the reference region at 2.1% change over the last 15 years, deforestation in the project area has declined, a result of land use planning and enforcement.
Great results for us and of course for all of our clients and partners. What we are seeing here is proof, proof that by building trust with rural communities and collaborating with other organisations, we are able to achieve amazing things.
I’d like to finish by saying thank you to our clients, by offsetting your carbon emissions, your enabling us to reduce deforestation, protect biodiversity and create employment. Now that’s a win-win-win if ever there was.
Written by Carbon Tanzania Co-founder – Marc Baker