News / Africa

Conservationists Partner with Locals to Save African Forests

Multimedia

Audio
Kim Lewis
Wildlife Works, an international development and management company that applies innovative market-based solutions to help preserve biodiversity, has been helping local landowners in the developing world benefit from forests and other assets. Through an initiative originated by the United Nations, called REDD+, an acronym for reducing emissions from deforestation and degradation, Wildlife Works is working to protect thousands of acres of forests in Kenya and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The company’s founder and, CEO, Mike Korchinsky, explained his organization’s efforts to counter the damaging effects of climate change.

“When tropical forests are destroyed, they release greenhouse gases into the atmosphere that contribute significantly to climate change, and forestry contributed over 15-per cent of the annual emissions. So, more than transportation, more than all of the cars, trains, and planes in the world, emissions from people around the world destroy forests.  [Also], when you destroy forests, you destroy habitat for endangered species and other biodiversity, and you threaten the livelihoods of forest communities.  So, protecting forests has a triple benefit, climate, people and biodiversity.”

The project in Kenya covers over 500,000 acres of highly threatened forest which includes the entire wildlife migration corridor between Kenya’s Tsavo East and Tsavo West National Parks. It is Wildlife Works oldest and largest project to date.

“It’s called the Kasigau Corridor project, and we have a very talented team of young Kenyans there that are working with the local community, which is about 120,000 people. They’re working with them to preserve that natural forest between those two national parks, and in doing so, to generate financial benefits to the community from protecting that natural capital,” explained Korchinsky.

He said the benefits of the projects can be felt globally.  For example, Korchinsky explained that garments produced at what he described as an eco-friendly factory are sold around the world; the factory uses material from plantations that are created to preserve forests; and revenues from the sale of the garments or from labor used to harvest the trees are used to finance local schools.

Korchinsky said one of the biggest challenges facing biodiversity are the high levels of gases emitted from human activity, especially in the industry and energy sectors.  Those emissions are behind elevated temperatures, flooding, intense storms and increased drought. 

“A large chunk of [the emissions] are coming from the destruction of forests. And, if we can’t get a handle on protecting forests, we’re not going to be able to stabilize our effect on climate. So there are many people out there [and international organizations], starting with the United Nations and the World Bank, many corporations, and many, many NGO’s that are very concerned with this issue, and are willing to try and finance the reduction of these emissions.  And the area that we work in is going to those sources to provide financing to pay communities to protect threatened forests,” explained Korchinsky.

This financial relationship with the community is called direct carbon financing. It offers an attractive alternative solution to the destruction of forests by locals out of economic necessity. In return, they are paid a fee for every ton of emissions they avoid.

Most of the teams working on the projects are staffed with members of the community.

“These jobs are jobs for the local community-- first and foremost, 400 jobs in the local communities. Their carbon project has built more than 18 schools in the community, and then bursary -- the 1,600 children who would not have been able to go through high school and university – were it not for from the benefits of the communities’ carbon projects,” he said.

Wildlife Works has another big project taking place in Africa through the REDD+ initiative, and it is in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The forest area where they are working has a larger land base of 750,000 acres and is a more tropical, wet forest.

“That forest is home to the Bonoba, which are the slender chimpanzee, the highly endangered great ape.  Protecting the forest is protecting one of the few places on earth that that chimpanzee lives.  So it’s a benefit to conservation and a benefit to the local community,” said Korchinsky.

He said the REDD+ projects are designed to stay in place for a minimum of thirty years, and conservationists assigned to them are committed to working side by side with local communities, ensuring the projects pass all international audits, and that they do what they say they will do -- reduce emissions.  It is a long term commitment, he said, but with lasting benefits.

You May Like

Video One Year After Thai Coup, No End in Sight for Military Rule

Since carrying out the May 22, 2014 coup, the general has retired from the military but is still firmly in charge More

Goodbye, New York

This is what the fastest-growing big cities in America have in common More

Job-Seeking Bangladeshis Risk Lives to Find Work

The number of Bangladeshi migrants on smugglers’ boats bound for Southeast Asian countries has soared in the past two years More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthroughi
X
May 22, 2015 10:23 AM
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthrough

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Europe Follows US Lead in Tackling ‘Conflict Minerals’

Metals mined from conflict zones in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo are often sold by warlords to buy weapons. This week European lawmakers voted to force manufacturers to prove that their supply chains are not inadvertently fueling conflicts and human rights abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Class Tackles Questions of Race, Discrimination

Unrest in some U.S. cities is more than just a trending news item at Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, it’s a focus of a multicultural studies class engaging students in wide-ranging discussions about racial tensions and police aggression.
Video

Video Mind-Controlled Prosthetics Are Getting Closer

Scientists and engineers are making substantial advances towards the ultimate goal in prosthetics – creation of limbs that can be controlled by the wearer’s mind. Thanks to sophisticated sensors capable of picking up the brain’s signals, an amputee in Iceland is literally bringing us one step closer to that goal. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Foreign Troops Depart

As international troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, and many foreign aid groups follow, Afghans are grappling with how the exodus will affect the country's fragile economy. Ayesha Tanzeem reports from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.

VOA Blogs