Avoided deforestation and degradation of two reserve areas in the Congo rainforest, the world's second largest tropical forest, will be the focus of the REDD+ projects.
The Bonobo Conservation Initiative (BCI) is developing two carbon credit projects in the Bonobo Peace Forest (BPF) located in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). The REDD+ projects will be dedicated to the preservation of the endangered bonobo (Pan paniscus), a great ape closely related to humans, and their native rainforest habitat. The BPF is a unique biodiversity corridor of community-managed land in the Congo rainforest spanning 5,258,700 hectares of conservation area. These first two carbon credit projects in the BPF will mitigate current threats of deforestation and degradation through natural resource management. The projects feature two distinct protected areas covering 67% of the BPF and offer a combined potential to avoid and remove hundreds of millions of tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) over 30 years. These projects will also generate multiple social and economic benefits for local communities, in supporting their efforts to preserve the endangered bonobos and their shared home.
BCI, established in 1998, is a pioneer in bonobo conservation in the DRC, operating the largest bonobo conservation program in the world with unmatched local community and governmental support. The BCI team, led by Founder & President Sally Jewell Coxe, brings extensive management experience in REDD+ project development, including monitoring and evaluation, community outreach, training, capacity building, native species preservation, and biodiversity management. BCI and partners have executed multiple carbon credit and conservation projects around the globe, including validation of the first VCS REDD+ project in the DRC. BCI has a strong reputation as a trusted community development leader in the Congo Basin.
Protecting the endangered bonobos will also be a critical goal of the projects, as illegal bushmeat trade has pushed them to the brink of extinction.
Offering viable economic alternatives, education, health clinics and women’s initiatives are some of the many sustainable development goals of these projects.
The Bonobo Peace Forest includes two protected areas, offering a combined potential to avoid and remove hundreds of millions of tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) over 30 years. The largest of these reserves, Sankuru, spans over three million hectares and contains some of the highest biomass forests in the Congo Basin at 400+ tonnes per hectare, and Kokolopori covers almost five hundred thousand hectares. Local development and increasing climate change pressures, such as drought and rising temperatures, are threatening the health of these forests, their inhabitants, and surrounding communities. The two REDD+ projects intend to strengthen community management to increase the health of the nature reserve forests through community-supported patrols, zoning, monitoring on the ground and ongoing remote sensing of forest density. Reduced deforestation and forest degradation efforts will be achieved through the program’s improved land use, including intensifying and diversifying agriculture, protecting against illegal commercial bushmeat hunting, and slowing forest loss caused by charcoal production and illegal logging.
It is anticipated the projects will be certified through the Verified Carbon Standard (VCS), the Climate, Community & Biodiversity Standard (CCB) and the Sustainable Development Verified Impact Standard (SD VISta), all of which are administered by Verra.
DRC Forest Cover highlighting the BPF: remote high-density imaging with lidar characterizing forest density
As the namesake species of the Bonobo Peace Forest, bonobos are found only in the DRC and are renowned for their peaceful, cooperative society. Tragically, they are threatened by illegal but widespread hunting for bushmeat. BCI’s efforts strive to prevent the poaching of these beloved primates. Effective conservation requires devoted boots-on-the-ground commitment and BCI’s field teams are on the front lines in the fight to save bonobos. Team members thwart poachers and gather critical information about bonobos and their behavior. BCI has trained and equipped over 200 trackers and eco guards, providing protection for bonobos and economic opportunity for local residents.
The most heartbreaking consequence of the illegal bushmeat trade is the orphans who are left behind. Too small to be killed for meat, they are put on the black market as pets or abandoned, unable to survive alone. For every orphan found, at least one adult bonobo has been killed, and often many more. BCI and partners have rescued more than two dozen orphans, giving them a second chance at life.
The Kokolopori Bonobo Reserve boasts one of the world’s largest known bonobo populations. Bonobos here are uniquely habituated to the presence of humans, affording incredible opportunities for scientific research and ecotourism.
In addition to bonobos, the BPF shelters extensive biodiversity and is home to multiple additional species listed on the IUCN Red List of threatened species.
- African Forest Elephant (critically)
- Giant Ground Pangolin
- Owl-faced monkey
- Congo Peafowl
The indigenous people of the BPF are its natural stewards. This premise fuels BCI’s approach to conservation and has yielded incredible results. BCI is dedicated to protecting bonobos while also benefiting their human neighbors. By listening to local insight, addressing local concerns, and fostering local leadership, BCI is helping to spread a conservation ethos across the Congo Basin. The projects intend to provide a multitude of community benefits including:
- employing local Congolese residents as field team members,
- providing education for the next generation of conservationists,
- promoting programs that benefit women and help support the community at large,
- improving infrastructure, including new buildings and updated communications technology, and
- paving the way for indigenous leadership to impact policies.
For additional information on the Bonobo Conservation Initiative, please visit their website at bonobo.org.
Bonobo Peace Forest Projects Carbon Credit Streams
Carbon Streaming's initial investment will be directed to prepare feasibility studies and establish initial project activities. Further capital may be committed to projects in both reserves upon completion of due diligence and execution of definitive carbon credit stream agreements, with specific milestone investments to be determined. The stream agreements, once finalized, would run for a term of 30 years.
Photo 1 Bonobo Conservation Initiative
Photo 2 Christian Ziegler, National Geographic
Photo 3 Frans Lanting
Photo 4 Bonobo Conservation Initiative
Photo 5 Christian Ziegler, National Geographic
Photo 6 Frans Lanting