Nedbank Group, one of South Africa’s largest banks, and the U.S.-based Wildlife Works Inc. (WWI), an apparel company that assists conservation efforts in Kenya, signed a multi-million dollar agreement on a Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD) project in Kenya. Nedbank will acquire Voluntary Emission Reductions (VERs) through WWI to offset its carbon footprint.
The goal of WWI’s REDD project in Kenya is to avoid deforestation of the Kasigau Corridor in the Rukinga Wildlife Sanctuary. The project is validated by Scientific Certification Systems (SCS), and awarded gold level approval under the Climate Community and Biodiversity Alliance’s (CCBA) forestry protection standard.When WWI established 80,000 acres in 1997 in the Kasigau Corridor, the land was “on the brink of disaster,” according to WWI’s website. For years, a cattle ranch operated on the land which wildlife saw as a “passageway between Tsavo East and Tsavo West national parks – the largest protected lands in Kenya.” WWI worked with local communities and the Kenyan Wildlife Service to restore the dry-land forest and savannas located in the sanctuary.
Wildlife Works did three things when it first acquired the sanctuary:
- Began unarmed patrols to remove any snares set for wildlife
- Removed the cattle from the land
- Worked with the community to peaceably move the sanctuary’s illegal squatters onto farm land located outside of the wildlife corridor
The sanctuary includes an organic clothing factory called Ecofactory, which employs young women from the community who sew organic cotton clothing. The clothing is then exported to the U.S. and Europe, where it is sold on the Internet and in fashion boutiques. An organic greenhouse is located in the sanctuary, as well, and is used to grow citrus trees sold at a discount to local farmers, who plant the trees and earn an income from them.
The sanctuary also includes an ecotourism camp, where safari guides and other service jobs provide employment for locals. In addition, WWI helped build 18 classrooms in the district.
Kevin Whitfield, head of carbon at Nedbank Capital, said in a press release, “This is Africa’s first REDD (Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation) project developed at scale and seeking registration from the benchmark voluntary carbon market registry, the VCS (Voluntary Carbon Standard).” Nedbank Capital, made up of the bank’s investment banking businesses, manages the structuring, lending, and underwriting activities.
“It effectively proves Africa can fight climate change while uplifting rural communities and protecting wildlife through accessing carbon markets. South Africa and other nations can be expected to quickly seize on the opportunities demonstrated by the Kenyan venture,” said Whitfield.
The press release also quoted, Mike Korchinsky, founder and president of WWI, who said the sanctuary “was designed to bring substantial benefits to local communities through education, job creation, environmental protection, and direct financial rewards, while protecting precious biodiversity at the same time.”
“We believe the global voluntary carbon marketplace is ready for carbon credits that the average consumer can relate to. Carbon credits that protect natural forests, endangered species and the livelihoods of Africa’s rural communities will be massively appealing to organizations or consumers wanting to do their part by reducing their own carbon footprint,” said Korchinsky.