Uchindile Mapanda Reforestation
This project establishes commercial forests at two locations in Tanzania. In July 2009, this became the first ‘Agriculture, Forestry and Other Land Use’ (AFOLU) project to be validated under the Verified Carbon Standard (VCS).
Based in the Southern highlands of Tanzania, this project establishes commercial forests across the Uchindile and Mapanda districts. Four varieties of trees will be planted – two each of eucalyptus and pine - covering 7,252 hectares at Uchindile and 3,562 hectares at Mapanda.
The project reduces carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions through sequestration or ‘carbon sinks’: a process which removes greenhouse gases (GHG) from the atmosphere. Forest ecosystems are considered natural carbon capture and storage systems; however they are under increasing threat. Globally, deforestation and changes in land use generate approximately 1.6 gigatonnes of CO2 a year, which is the equivalent of around 20% of all annual GHG emissions. The environmental impact of this is twofold: not only does deforestation cause a direct rise in emissions, it reduces the planet’s natural ability to remove CO2 through carbon sinks.
Between 1990 and 2005, Tanzania lost 14.9% - or just over 6 million hectares - of forest cover through deforestation. The Tanzanian government has responded with numerous policies to stem further degradation, however with limited public funds these policies lack the financial incentives to be widely effective.
Prior to planting, the project area was degraded grassland, with significantly lower sequestration capacity than an established forest. The project activity will use a sustainable harvesting practice, which is the cyclical, non-exhaustive removal and replanting of trees. This type of harvesting ensures a base forest cover and capacity for regeneration is constantly maintained. Harvesting the eucalyptus and pine trees will occur every 13 and 21 years respectively, with the resulting timber being used to make transmission poles, furniture and pallets. The net growth of the forest biomass throughout the harvesting cycles is monitored through geographic information system (GIS) satellite imagery, as well as by ground staff and local residents.
A range of exotic and indigenous tree species plus local fruit crops have also been planted on the project sites to improve species diversity, ensuring the forests’ health and resilience. Conservation of rare, threatened and endangered tree species is integral to this project and the local communities work in partnership with the project developer to protect them.
Ten per cent of the carbon revenues from the forests have been allocated to initiatives which will benefit the local communities. The decision on how to spend this money is agreed with the local villages based on their list of priorities. The project provides ongoing employment opportunities plus training on land-use planning, conservation and sustainable forest management. Infrastructure improvements include the development of approximately 200 kilometres of new roads and 100 kilometres of road renovations plus improved road signalling and signs. Access to potable water will increase through the construction of bore holes in villages and social services will be improved by the building of schools and hospitals.