WILDLIFE HABITAT PROTECTION PROJECT AT KASIGAU, VOI IN KENYA.
The Kasigau Corridor Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD) project” protects over 500,000 acres of forest and brings the benefits of direct carbon financing to Kenyan communities while also securing the entire wildlife migration corridor between Tsavo East and Tsavo West National Parks.
Kenya Airways, through IATA will use the funds collected from the contribution by its customers to the Voluntary Carbon Offset Program to support the Kasigau Project that is run by the Wildlife Works.
The project is located in Voi town in Kasigau Location in the Voi District at the Coast Province in Kenya.
The project’s main activities are;
• Protection of over 500,000 acres of forest so as to secure carbon credits.
• Securing the entire wildlife migration corridor between Tsavo East and Tsavo West National Parks.
• Trickle down the benefits of direct carbon financing to over 100,000 Kenyan communities in form of job creation, education, water catchment projects, agriculture programs, sustainable charcoal initiative, and more.
For years, the land between Tsavo East and Tsavo West national parks doubled as home to a slowly failing cattle ranch and the main migration corridor for local wildlife. At that time Rukinga, the community and the wildlife were at odds. Rukinga was a bruised, balding land, barren of wildlife and overflowing with despair. Cattle had grazed the fields into dust, poachers slipped on and off the ranch with ease, and squatters had settled in to farm and build mud-and-thatch huts along the area's critical rainwater basin.
In 1998 Wildlife Works established the Rukinga Wildlife Sanctuary on 80,000 acres of now protected land and did three things to transform the acreage into a wildlife sanctuary:
• began unarmed patrols to remove any snares set for wildlife
• removed the cattle from the land
• established a community works project providing the locals with an alternative income stream in place of poaching and clear cutting
• worked with the community to peaceably move the sanctuary's illegal squatters onto farm land located outside of the wildlife corridor
There is proof that conservation efforts are a success. The elephants returned first, followed by the ungulates (animals with hoofs like zebra) and then the predators. There is now a very balanced ecosystem, with 50 large mammal species, more than 20 species of bats and over 300 species of birds and important populations of IUCN Red List species such as African elephants, Grevy's zebras, cheetah and African hunting dogs at the Rukinga Wildlife Sanctuary.
As many as 450 elephants now call Rukinga home, but their numbers can swell to an estimated 2,000 towards the end of the dry seasons in October and March, when it's not uncommon to see elephants and other wildlife congregating around Rukinga's numerous water holes and tanks. For this, The Kasigau Corridor REDD project was awarded the additional distinction of Gold level status by the CCB for exceptional biodiversity and climate benefits.
The project which is being run by Wildlife Works is working to prevent CO2 emissions, protect the dry-land forests, promote community sustainable development activities, prevent the loss of spectacular biodiversity and protect the area as a wildlife corridor for important indigenous species. In addition, the project aims at expanding the influence of Wildlife Works into the surrounding dry-land forests within the Kasigau Corridor that are under similar threat to Rukinga. Their approach to ensuring long term community support for the conservation of the forests and wildlife is through developing alternatives to slash and burn, such as community based nurseries for provision of agricultural and fuel wood. Other project activities include an organic clothing factory, an organic greenhouse, dry-land farming skills, school construction and bursary scheme and ecotourism. This is the first REDD project in Kenya.
The Kenya based Kasigau Corridor REDD project is the first ever to be issued Voluntary Carbon Units (VCUs) for REDD under the Voluntary Carbon Standard (VCS), the most widely used carbon accounting standard among projects issuing credits in the voluntary market.
There are six key elements to the Wildlife Work's brand of REDD that make it a successful model. The foundation of it all is job creation.
• Jobs supporting education [children's education, conservation education, community outreach about our projects]
• Jobs making eco-friendly products
• Jobs protecting wildlife [rangers and eco tourism]
• Jobs helping farmers [jajoba and chili project]
• Jobs growing trees [seedling program, green charcoal project