The project was initiated by World Vision Ethiopia in Humbo, Wolayta Sodo, in the Southern Nations, Nationalities, and Peoples (SNNP) Regional State. This area is highly degraded where communities used to rely on cutting trees for subsistence. World Vision organised 800 members into seven cooperatives to be engaged in forest development with the purpose of making a living from carbon trading instead of the sale of firewood.
The Humbo Forest, which covers an area of 2,728ht, was the first large-scale forestry project in Africa to be registered by the United Nations (UN) under the Clean Development Mechanism of the Kyoto Protocol. It was registered earlier this year with a promise that the BioCarbon Fund of the WB would buy credit for half of the 330,000tn of carbon the forest would absorb.
Carbon trading was conceived in response to increasing climate change caused by greenhouse gas emissions. These gases are largely emitted by countries in the developed world, with Africa contributing only three per cent to four per cent of global emissions.
Ongoing climate negotiations aspire to arrive at a binding agreement to force the main emitters to buy carbon credits from developing countries, the credit being the service provided by forests in absorbing carbon, hence reducing the level of emissions into the atmosphere. To date, all agreements have been on a voluntary basis lacking any mandatory elements. The purchase of credit by the WB falls in that category.
The WB has committed to buy a total of 726,000 dollars worth of credit, at four dollars per metric tonne, from the Humbo Project over 10 years, according to Hailu Tefera, manager of the Climate Change Programmes Department of World Vision.
The agreement for the sale of the credits was made between World Vision Ethiopia, on behalf of the seven cooperatives, and the WB. Humbo was selected because of its high level of degradation.
The WB's payment covers a period of 10 years, according to Edward Dwumfour, senior specialist of Natural Resources and Environment and Management of the WB.
The payment was made through World Vision Australia last week, which will pass it to the Ethiopia branch to be divided among the 800 members of the cooperatives.
"The price of four dollars is low because there is the risk of fire destroying the forest," Hailu said.
The cooperatives could make extra revenues by selling carbon credits from the remaining part of the forest to voluntary buyers as well as from the sale of timber from designated areas. The project also aims to recharge ground water; improve biodiversity; and reduce soil erosion, flooding, and drought.
World Vision Ethiopia intends to provide the Humbo with 100,000 cooking stoves, worth 16.77 dollars to 20.97 dollars each, which could reduce carbon dioxide emissions by up to 60pc, according to Hailu.
After 10 years, half the trees will be cut for the stumps to grow new shoots and the timber will be sold and the revenues shared among the members of the cooperatives. The project started in 2006 with financial assistance of 700,000 dollars from the WB, which helped to plant 1.3 million seeds.