REDD Project Concept

Effective forest management should utilise all valuable assets found in the forest. Until the launch of our REDD project, MCDI had focused on sustainable timber production as the primary revenue earner for rural communities in South-Eastern Tanzania. However, initial revenue growth from timber sales was slower than expected. This put our aim for Forest Stewardship Council-certified timber production to become financially self-sufficient at risk; our FSC group certificate scheme was too small to survive without external donor support. We sought to mitigate this by introducing an additional revenue flow from local forests, through REDD.

After assessing the different drivers of deforestation and forest degradation affecting forests in Kilwa District, where MCDI is based in South-Eastern Tanzania, we decided to focus our REDD project on reducing late season bush fires. These fires damage the forest and therefore keep biomass (and hence carbon stocks) lower than it would otherwise be. The solution we adopted is to protect the forest by burning parts of it early in the dry season, when fires are much less damaging. The forest cannot generally burn twice in a year, so areas that have been burned early in the dry season will not burn again. Moreover, such burned areas act as firebreaks, blocking the passage of damaging late season fires to other un-burned areas of forest.

For this approach to be allowable under carbon market rules we have to demonstrate that the higher carbon storage that results is truly additional (it would not have happened otherwise) and permanent. We believe this is the case because:

  • When communities join MCDI's FSC group certificate, they make a commitment to keep the forest standing for the foreseeable future.
  • Revenue from timber sales alone is insufficient to provide the ongoing support communities need to implement proper forest management.
  • Without explicit payments (which will be generated by this REDD project), existing local resources would be insufficient to provide fire protection to prevent further forest degradation and support replenishment of carbon stocks.

Previously (mainly because of restrictions over additionality) experts tended to view REDD as an alternative tool to support sustainable forest management where other mechanisms would not succeed. However, by combining FSC-certified timber production and third party verification of carbon offsets, our REDD project demonstrates that REDD can be used in conjunction with other approaches, to bring social and environmental benefits.