The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) is one of the six countries that forms the Congo Basin; the second largest tropical rainforest in the world, after the Amazon. It is also home to a wealth of biodiversity, such as forest elephants, great apes, and the rare okapi. Two-thirds of DRC’s population relies on the forest for food, medicine, shelter, water, and materials. Many more around the world depend on the country for coltan, a vital component of mobile phones and computers. Despite the DRC’s rich natural resources, the growing demand for bushmeat and fuelwood has put greater pressure on the country’s forests and rivers. War and poverty have contributed to a decline in wildlife as many families turn to bushmeat for food and income. In addition, population growth, road building and commercial logging have given hunters increased access to remote areas and contributed to deforestation. It is estimated that, unless action is taken, up to 30% of the Congo Basin will have disappeared by 2030.
Against this backdrop, we find Olivier Mushiete. For three generations, his family has been working with a small community in the Batéké Plateau to replant its degraded forest and alleviate poverty. In order to carry out this vision, Olivier’s father, Paul, set up Novacel in 1985. Through the planting of different types of acacia, eucalyptus and pine trees, the Ibi Batéké Carbon Sink Plantation Project absorbs more than 8 tons of C02 per hectare. In total, the 4,200-hectare project will absorb 2.4 million tons of CO2 over the next 30 years and employ over 450 people. Not only is Ibi Batéké the DRC’s first registered Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) project, but it is also the first of its kind to be registered by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). Ibi Batéké generates carbon credits which are purchased by the World Bank BioCarbon Fund, and private firms such as Orbeo. The carbon revenue is then invested in reforestation, healthcare, housing, and education. In order to reduce the pressure of deforestation on native forests, part of Ibi Batéké’s reforestation is used as charcoal for urban areas like Kinshasa. Furthermore, local farmers receive support from Gi Agro, a local NGO linked to Novacel, to adopt more sustainable agriculture techniques and strengthen food security.
Incredible as it may seem, Olivier Mushiete’s ground-breaking work in the DRC has only just begun. Novacel is now partnering with the Congolese government to implement a large-scale agroforestry project in the southern part of the Kwamouth territory. The Novacel Sud-Kwamouth (NSK) project aims to not only alleviate poverty but also to mitigate the effects of climate change. Between 2013 and 2020, NSK will manage over 8,000 hectares of land with trees and crops, including acacia and cassava. Every year, 25,700 tons of C02 will be absorbed, and over 20 years, 191,300 tons of charcoal and 129,500 tons of high-quality cassava flour will be produced and sold in the country. Thanks to the agroforestry model laid out by the Mushiete family, the Congo Basin has never had a better chance at protecting itself and empowering local communities. With 2.5 million euros from the Congo Basin Forest Fund (CBFF), NSK is still seeking 2 million euros to scale up their activities. If you’d like to support the project, please contact them here: ibi(at)ibi-village.cd .Together, we can make small matter.
Environmental Impact: Avoided forest degradation and deforestation, reduced CO2 emissions, preserved biodiversity and sustainable land use
Measurement: ONF International
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