Happy Earth Day! Today we celebrate positive climate action to protect our Earth. Lion Landscapes has recently committed to being 100% Climate Positive using Lion Carbon, an innovative carbon offsetting model developed by BioCarbon Partners (BCP) in partnership with Lion Landscapes. Since our announcement, we have received lots of questions about how the Lion Carbon REDD+ model works and thought that Earth Day would be a great time to answer your queries!
Q: What does REDD+ mean?
A: REDD stands for Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation. It is a UN Climate Change mitigation strategy, based on the principle that carbon will be locked up in protected forests instead of being released into the atmosphere. Currently, deforestation alone is responsible for up to 20% of greenhouse gas emissions. The additional “+” in REDD+ is added for the conservation of existing forest carbon stocks, sustainable forest management and enhancement of forest carbon stocks.
Q: Is offsetting really the solution to Climate Change?
A: Offsetting provides a mechanism to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in the most cost-effective and economically efficient manner. Offsetting therefore plays a vital role in combating climate change, but if done in isolation is definitely not the solution. Before offsetting is considered, initial emissions must be reduced as much as possible to then offset those remaining unavoidable emissions.
Q: How do you make sure all communities are fully involved in forest selection?
A: Reducing deforestation can never be successfully or fairly achieved if communities are not leading the decision making themselves. In the Lion Carbon model, planning and implementation of forest management is all community led through Community Resource Boards. Teams are built internally from within local communities to protect and monitor their own forests, with support from BCP, the Department of National Parks and Wildlife, and Lion Landscapes. As expected, engaging all communities has been no easy feat, involving a long process run by BCP starting in 2012. BCP follows internationally recognised standards of obtaining “Free, Prior, and Informed Consent” in order to work with communities to protect forests through 30-year agreements. In this case, BCP not only ensures that communities understand and agree to a REDD+ forest protection project, but that they are front and central to the development and implementation of that project.
BCP CEO Dr Hassan Sachedina has recorded a podcast that you can listen to for more information on this story.
Q: How are the offsets ‘Certified’?
A: Like all of BCP’s offsets, all Lion Carbon offsets are verified by The Verified Carbon Standard (VCS). VCS is the world’s most highly regarded and recognised independent authority on verified carbon projects. BCP is rated the most impactful REDD+ developer in the world, as the first to receive five consecutive verifications and Climate, Community and Biodiversity (CCB) Triple Gold status for exceptional community impacts. These standards also verify that our carbon offsets are real, rigorously and scientifically measured, and benefit local communities, forests, and biodiversity.
Q: How are the offsets monitored?
A: The Forest Monitoring Team is a select group of 4 from the local community who have been trained to collect data on biomass, illegal logging, wildlife and soils on the ground. They work with the Community Scouts and the Carbon Accounting team using GPS technology and satellite imagery to identify areas affected by deforestation and encroachment. They also use a smartphone application (spatial monitoring and reporting tool - SMART) to collect forest carbon data and to record and track wildlife sightings of key species such as lions, ground hornbills and wild dogs, and any illegal activity encountered. This contributes to our wider biodiversity monitoring efforts in the area, which monitors the trends in number and distribution of wildlife species in REDD+ forests. An estimated 512 million trees are monitored.
Q: How is revenue invested back in the community?
A: Revenue from the sale of all BCP's carbon offsets is invested back into communities in multiple ways. Revenue helps to build local capacity to protect and sustainably manage natural resources. This ensures communities have access to these essential natural resources for years to come, and helps secure a future for other wildlife related income such as tourism. Income from carbon also creates a more prosperous future through directly supporting sustainable livelihoods and enterprises, and improved access to social services such as education, healthcare and clean water. Revenue is also given as direct payments; since 2020-2021, direct benefits of over $4 million have been paid to over 220,000 households.
Q: BCP sells different types of offsets, how is Lion Carbon different?
A: Lion Carbon is a premium offset. When you purchase Lion Carbon, additional revenue is invested into conservation activities that monitor, protect and regenerate lions and other wildlife species. REDD+ income is based on the conservation of trees. Although the habitat protection this provides is enough to ensure the survival of many species living in these forests, additional conservation activities are needed to ensure the survival of many others.
Lion is the perfect umbrella species for this additional conservation work because they face a wide range of threats, loss of habitat being just one. Healthy lion populations indicate other major threats to wildlife, such as poaching and conflict with people over loss of livestock and life, which have also been successfully addressed. This is why our goal is to ensure REDD+ forests can support lions as well as wider biodiversity and people.
There are 3 pillars of community-based activities that ensure a future for wildlife in REDD+ forests:
Security - Protect existing wildlife biodiversity through anti-poaching activities
Regeneration - Increase wildlife biodiversity through active reintroductions
Monitoring - To inform the adaptive management of all wildlife conservation efforts
Offsetting with Lion Carbon therefore means you are protecting not just our planet and supporting local Zambian communities, but also directly protecting threatened or endangered wildlife. There is a clear link between protecting forests through Lion Carbon, working with communities, and the increase of wildlife; 2020 was a year of zero encroachment for the REDD + Project in Lower Zambezi! A total of over 1 million hectares of forest have been protected from 2020-2021.
Two lions on Camera Trap in the forest of Luangwa, Zambia. Zambia has one of the largest wild lion populations and the Luangwa Valley Ecosystem is a lion stronghold.
Q: Is Lion Carbon just for businesses?
A: We encourage businesses and organisations like us to offset using Lion Carbon. Individuals can also offset using Lion Carbon themselves.
Q: How can I offset using Lion Carbon as an individual? What is your expected price per credit?
Lion Landscapes Volunteer Joni Oberbosch offsets her personal emissions using Lion Carbon, here is how: "We have invested in solar panels and other emission-reductions, but I can't get my footprint down to zero. I first calculated my footprint using an online calculator, doubled the amount because I want to be 100% climate positive and then subscribed to buy offsets on BCPs website. BCP follows up with an email and I then asked through email to upgrade to Lion Carbon. Lion Carbon will be available to purchase directly on BCP's new website soon."
"I'm offsetting 4 tonnes per month for USD50."
Do a ton of good this Earth Day by supporting this initiative and offsetting your emissions using Lion Carbon!