Building Capacities for Carbon Finance through Community Forestry Development in Ghana and Honduras

December 21, 2009

The Office of Natural Resource Management of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) recently launched a new Global Development Alliance (GDA) with the Rainforest Alliance. This initiative will increase the ability of communities to manage forests more sustainably and respond to the rapidly developing marketplace for forest-based carbon offsets. Working with a range of local and national partners in Ghana and Honduras, the Forest, Climate & Community Alliance (FCCA) project will promote sustainable community-based forest management and trade. Using market incentives, communities will receive assistance in certifying their forest-based products and ultimately sell certified wood and non-timber forest products on the global marketplace.

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The FCCA will also identify policies and practices that contribute to the rapidly emerging market for forest-based carbon credits/offset. The project will help establish the foundation for local communities to maximize the benefits from forest carbon finance -- often referred to as Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+).

Ghana

By implementing activities in two vastly different countries that nonetheless share key characteristics common in much of the developing world, FCCA will generate important lessons for the international community as REDD increasingly takes center stage in efforts surrounding climate change mitigation.

In Ghana, the FCCA will initially work in the High Forest Zone of the Western region and later expand to Ashanti and Brong Ahafo regions. These areas are extremely important for biodiversity conservation and habitat connectivity, but suffer from high rates of poverty as well as deforestation and degradation. Though the development of community forestry enterprises in the country is at an early stage, several important steps have been taken at the national level to facilitate local involvement in forestry, better control harvesting and trade of forest products, and maximize benefits to communities -- all of which are fundamental bases for the success of carbon forestry. FCCA will build on these positive foundations and partner with communities, government and the private sector to grow the number of certified and legally verified forestry operations, increase capacities in enterprise management and help prepare communities to more fully engage in ongoing national REDD processes and implementation in pilot REDD projects.

Honduras

In Honduras, where community forestry is more advanced, the FCCA project will focus on the northeastern region of the country, known as La Mosquitia. This region includes the Rio Plátano Biosphere Reserve, a 500,000 hectare stretch of forest recognized as the most biodiverse area in Central America. Partnering with communities that Rainforest Alliance is already collaborating with, FCCA will scale-up ongoing management activities around timber and non-timber forest products, and continue to build markets for these products, while supporting efforts to develop an enabling environment for REDD investments and pilot projects that will yield tangible benefits for local communities. As in Ghana, the private sector will be key partners, not only providing preferred markets for forest products produced by community forest enterprises, but also by ensuring community involvement in the design of carbon forestry initiatives.

Key targets to be achieved during the project include:

  • 370,800 acres (150,000 hectares) of forest area brought under a formal step-wise verification and certification processes in accordance with Forest Stewardship Council certification criteria
  • Men Walking in a Forest REDD pilot projects on 185,000 acres (75,000 hectares)
  • 1,000 forest-dependent families with increased incomes from membership or employment in forest enterprises engaged in production activities and REDD activities
  • 30 forest enterprises established or strengthened, with the capacity to engage in sustainable forestry and REDD.
  • 20 private sector companies participating in alliances with community groups as buyers, investors or joint-venture partners

As a timely initiative working in two equally important but highly differentiated contexts, this USAID-supported project will generate both local and global benefits, improving the ability of local groups to benefit from their forest resources while disseminating critical lessons learned on REDD to the international community.

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