Academic journal article African Studies Quarterly

Impact of Forest Carbon Sequestration Initiative on Community Assets: The Case of Assisted Natural Regeneration Project in Humbo, Southwestern Ethiopia

Academic journal article African Studies Quarterly

Impact of Forest Carbon Sequestration Initiative on Community Assets: The Case of Assisted Natural Regeneration Project in Humbo, Southwestern Ethiopia

Article excerpt

Introduction

In Ethiopia, forest resources play a significant role particularly in the livelihoods of rural people as important sources of energy, food, employment, medicine, fodder, and income. (1) Studies undertaken in various parts of the country show that tens of thousands of rural people while depending on forests and woodlands for domestic energy are also engaged in the commercial supply of wood, charcoal, and other non-timber forest products to urban areas to earn their livelihood. (2) In the same vein, the connection between forest resources and livelihoods of rural people in developing countries has been enunciated clearly in the literature. (3) For instance, the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) indicated that over two third of the Africa's 600 million people rely on forest products for their livelihood; its contribution to domestic energy alone, wood is the primary energy source for at least 70 percent of households in Africa. (4) From this, it is clear that the importance of forests and woodlands play a prominent role in the developing countries where highest percentage of people are poor and rural based.

The atmospheric concentration of greenhouse gases (GHG) and several detrimental effects associated with them has recently attracted global attention. As a result, various bodies like the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the subsequent Conferences of Parties (COPs) raised the level of concern about stabilizing greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere to avoid climatic calamities. Consequently, the signatory parties to the 1997 Kyoto Protocol accepted legally binding constraints that bound some industrialized countries to reduce their greenhouse gas emission by an average of 5.2 percent relative to the 1990's level. (5) In the face of worrying global climate change and increasing global concern for it, in addition to the role forests play as source of income for rural people, the crucial role forests play as an alternative reservoir for carbon dioxide and thereby controlling and maintaining the stability, functioning, and sustainability of global ecosystems mushroomed as a source of relief for global society. (6)

Under the Kyoto Protocol, developing countries are not obliged to reduce their GHG emissions, whereas industrialized countries have to fulfill such targets through one of three flexibility mechanisms: international emissions trading (IET), the clean development mechanism (CDM), and joint implementation (JI).7 Of the three mechanisms, it is only the CDM that is related to developing countries. The CDM is intended to help industrialized countries meet a portion of their emission reduction at lower cost by either purchasing carbon offsets that were generated through CDM-registered projects or by initiating CDM projects in the developing countries. In addition, according to the protocol, CDM projects are geographically limited to non-industrialized countries in order to achieve its second objective of helping developing countries achieve sustainable development. (8) By complying with the protocol, some industrialized countries have now started to purchase emission offsets from projects in developing countries and some others finance carbon sequestration projects in developing countries in order to reduce their respective emissions of greenhouse gases. (9) Consequently, having twin objectives of reducing greenhouse gasses and promoting sustainable development in host countries, the CDM projects are being implemented in non-industrialized countries since 2005. (10)

Within the aforementioned framework, World Vision Ethiopia (WVE) in partnership with World Vision Australia (WVA) in 2005 introduced the first carbon forestry project to Humbo communities of Southwestern Ethiopia. (11) The initiative introduced farmer-managed natural regeneration techniques to restore degraded communal forestland and thereby generate income for local communities through the sale of carbon credits. …

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