Forests are priceless ecosystems. They are an essential component in the fight against climate change, as they capture the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide (CO₂) and generate oxygen at the same time. Forests also serve as recreation areas for people, provide habitats for many rare and endangered animals and plant species, act as a water store and produce wood – an important renewable building material.
While the focus in developing countries tends to be on protecting forests, industrialised nations are aiming to adapt the forestry industry in response to climate change and to promote biodiversity. This happens through adapted management, on the one hand, whereby the use of wood in the forest is reduced through specific silvicultural measures. On the other hand, it is also possible to establish a natural forest reserve where utilisation is abandoned completely. The project in the Beatenberg-Habkern region pursues the second approach.
Natural Forest Reserve Facilitates Carbon Storage
This carbon offset project encompasses an area of around 592 hectares of forest in the Beatenberg-Habkern region. The forest is currently used for a variety of purposes, but the implementation of the project guarantees that use of the area for forestry will be abandoned. That means the amount of wood in the forest will build up and habitats for rare and endangered animal and plant species will be preserved or improved or can develop anew.
As a result of the current forest management and use of wood, the wood reserves amount to around 244 cubic metres per hectare, which means that the forest is unable to fully reach its potential as a carbon sink. In future, full abandonment of timber utilisation should help to create a forest with wood reserves of 488 cubic metres per hectare. That means the project will lead to a doubling of the wood reserves over the same area.
Through its forest conservation activities, the climate protection project in northern Tanzania ensures that indigenous land rights are secured and community land-use plans are implemented. Less deforestation means fewer greenhouse gases are released into the atmosphere and habitat connectivity is secured for endangered wildlife between the Yaeda Valley and the Ngorongoro Highlands.
The forested area is of utmost importance on a cultural, socioeconomic and environmental level. It is home to the people of the Hadza hunter-gatherer tribe and the Datooga herding community. They rely on the land for their survival, as this where they hunt and gather medicinal plants. Not to mention that the area is the location of important cultural and religious sites. The project focuses on activities at the community level, with patrol teams helping to enforce the approved rural land-use plans by looking out for illegal land use and poaching. Wild animals are also tracked using smart technology, and training on governance, management and finance is delivered. Income generated from CO₂ certificates is used to prevent poaching, monitor wildlife, deliver training and provide medical care to all members of the community. This project contributes to nine SDGs (as of the end of 2022).