By BENEDICT TEMBO
The Ministry of Green Economy and Environment, Wilderness and Carbon Ark have signed a Memorandum of Understanding to launch a carbon storage and sequestration project protecting millions of hectares in Game Management Areas (GMAs) around the Kafue National Park, with an explicit focus on local community job creation and upliftment.
The partnership seeks to empower local communities and expand habitat for wildlife through the implementation of a high-integrity carbon storage and sequestration project. Carbon Ark anticipates that this project will deploy over US$500 million in operational investments and create over 1,000 community jobs.
The partnership is also supported by the United States impact investing firm TPG Rise, Bank of America and Jet Blue Ventures through Rubicon Carbon.
Government, through the Ministry of Green Economy and Environment, Wilderness, and Carbon Ark have committed to work towards a large-scale carbon reduction and removal project in several GMAs bordering the Kafue National Park, widely lauded as among the world’s most important natural heritage sites.
The areas have been meaningfully degraded by logging for charcoal production, as well as burning for farming and hunting.
The project will combine Wilderness’ nearly 40-year track record of success building community partnerships for conservation with the carbon expertise of Carbon Ark.
Wilderness and Carbon Ark are dedicated to developing high integrity carbon offsets, with an explicit focus on community empowerment, wildlife preservation, and technology innovation.
Ministry of Green Economy and Environment Permanent Secretary John Msimuko said the purpose of the MoU is to formalise the intention of the parties to work together towards implementing a world-class project that aims at reducing deforestation and forest degradation.
Mr Msimuko said the project will promote restoration (afforestation, reforestation and natural regeneration), enhance biodiversity conservation and management resulting in carbon storage and sequestration in the project area.
“These benefits are expected to contribute to meaningful and measurable positive impacts on the climate and communities living in and around the project area,” he said.
Carbon Ark co – founder Karen Brooks said Thursday’s signing represents over a year of intense collaboration to design and refine what is believed will be a groundbreaking partnership to protect and restore millions of acres of forest affected by human activity through a large scale carbon storage and sequestration project.
Ms Brooks said it will be done in a way that is both community-led and ensures that local communities meaningfully benefit from the protection of their land.
“Having worked in many countries and with many governments, it is refreshing to work with a ministry explicitly mandated to focus not only on the environment but on the green economy,” she said.
Ms Brooks said it makes a big difference in their ability to think and act strategically.
She commended President Hichilema for his vision in creating this Ministry.
Ms Brooks said minister of Green Energy and Environment Collins Nzovu should be applauded for his leadership in carrying that mandate forward.
Wilderness CEO Keith Vincent said Zambia’s lead in Africa in terms of green growth is a sense of pride.
Mr Vincent said Wilderness and Carbon Ark share that vision.
“We look forward to partnering with the Ministry to build a world class project of which all Zambians will benefit,” he said