NAIROBI, Kenya (PAMACC News) - Investments in forest conservation for carbon removal and enhancement are key for climate change mitigation. African forest experts are pushing to better use demonstrably high-quality forest carbon credits as a crucial tool in the urgent fight against climate change.
President of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), Razan Al Mubarak noted that "climate change can be seen as symptom of man’s mismanagement of nature, (and therefore) nature-based solutions must be taken seriously to drive the fight against climate change."
"The importance of forest and pitland in the fight against climate change cannot be over-emphasised. We need synergy of efforts to raise awareness and ambition, push the drive for a fair carbon mechanism," she said during a side event at the Nairobi Climate Summit under the theme; ‘Forests and carbon credits, opportunities and challenges in tapping climate finance for investment in Africa."
Panelists at the discussions agreed on growing investor interest in forest-based climate mitigation, including forest carbon credits and benefits through reducing greenhouse gas emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD+) in Africa in general and the Congo Basin in particular.
But they also acknowledge the problem of financing these forest and nature based solutions to climate change.
"Countries of the Congo-Basin like the DRC are putting up strong pitland policies amidst challenges of inadequate financing for the required research. We need to work with scientists and other stakeholds to better understand the full potential of the rich pitland ecosystem. But we must have the finances to achieve this " says Jean Jacque Bambota head of pitland unit with the Ministry of Environment and sustainable development , DRC.
He challenged scientists in Africa to embark on incisive research to discover the carbon potential of the pitlands in their different ecological zones.
IUCN President noted that nature is the critical infrastructure through which the needs of Africa can be met if well invested in, harnessed and protected.
Africa according to IUCN statistics she said has 40 million hectares of pitland and 670 million hectares of forest. "These rich natural endowments come with significant return if we invest right and protect sustainably," Razan said.
Some government authorities at the panel discussions, called for faire carbon mechanism and increased public sector engagement for the interest of population, especially the local communities.
According to the Minister of Environment and nature protection of Congo Brazaville, Arlette Soudan-Nonault ,many African universities are working together to foster research of the real potentials of pitlands like the case of Congo Brazaville.
" We are working with the different scientific communities to establish real data. But we also need clear guidance on good policy implementation practices, " she said.
Reforming methodologies for constructing and measuring reference levels, such as deforestation rates, could improve integrity and credibility in REDD+ projects that, in general, can require millions of dollars in upfront investments, she noted.
Panelists argued the need for a just forest transition and consensus is carbon price fixing between the supplier and the buyer.
Standards for ‘high-integrity REDD+’ could include the evaluation of counterfactual baselines, new remote sensing capabilities, address atmospheric integrity, leakage, biodiversity impacts, and equity, the panelists agreed.
According to a concept note on the event by the African Forest Forum,AFF,the realization of the benefits of Art 5.2 of Paris Agreement are in congruent with Art 6.2 of same document that will enable Parties and other actors in the forest value chain capitalize on cooperative approaches such as Internationally Transferred Mitigation Outcomes (ITMOs) for carbon trading.
"This is expected to catalyze investments in developing nations towards realization of their sustainable development goals, " the note stated.
In Africa, for example, there are series of piloted forest and tree-based carbon projects that Parties and actors in the forestry sector can draw key achievements, challenges and lessons learnt to advance investment in forestry for carbon removal and enhancement.
Some of the case studies include: Mai Ndombe REDD+ Project in Western Democratic Republic of Congo; Bale Mountains Eco Region and Oromia REDD+ project in Ethiopia; Kasigau Corridor Phase I&II and Chyulu Hills REDD+projects in Kenya; Making REDD+ Work for Communities and Forest
Conservation in Tanzania; and Kariba REDD+ in northwestern Zimbabwe along southern shore of Lake Kariba among others. long-term Global Comparative Study on REDD+ (2009-2023), involving some 14 years of research across 22 countries, it revealed.
Experts called for progress both at level of evaluating carbon credits and the of non- carbon benefits.
“While we see a lot of improvement and a lot of discussion on how to advance the methodology to evaluate carbon credits, I think the progress in terms of non-carbon benefits has been much slower in comparison " says Julie Mulongo of Wetlands Uganda.
They also expressed the need for accurate and transparent measurement, reporting and verification of emissions as vital part of the forest carbon market.