Problems using REDD for wildlife conservation

Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD) was set up to reduce greenhouse gases, with biodiversity conservation as a “co-benefit”.

It is therefore encouraging to see this project in Kenya, the Kasigau Corridor REDD Project,

WWC’s first project at Rukinga, Kenya, has been operating since 2005 protecting local wildlife and forests. The aim of this project is to bring the benefits of direct carbon financing to surrounding communities, while simultaneously addressing alternative livelihoods. Human-wildlife conflict has been a problem in the past, as local agents are reliant on flora and fauna as a means for subsistence. The Rukinga project directly addresses such sources of conflict in a holistic, sustainable approach. An additional goal is to secure a contiguous wildlife migration corridor between Tsavo East and West National Parks.

The project is being carried out by Wildlife Works Carbon LLC.

Our first REDD project in Rukinga, Kenya builds on a successful decade long track record, of bringing much needed jobs to a community that was being forced to destroy their magnificent wilderness in order to survive. In the last ten years we have turned back time, and restored a huge piece of land to a healthy vibrant ecosystem, full of elephants, lions, and 50 other species of large mammal. At the same time, the community has received 18 new classrooms for their children, and the employees and their families have received full health care benefits in a community with incredibly high HIV incidence. Wildlife Works also founded an organic greenhouse to promote healthier farming practices, to provide local farmers with cash generating citrus trees and free agroforestry trees to use for building and fuel wood. Wildlife Works Carbon will provide the financial additionality to ensure long term sustainability of Wildlife Works efforts in Kenya and beyond.

What seems to be missing here is a clear description of the distribution mechanism to a local contracting party (village council, group ranch, or other organization) the revenue stream the local party can expect over the life of the project. And how was free, prior and informed consent obtained?


From the Riviera to Rivierenbuurt

I have moved from the shores of the Mediterranean to the banks of the Amstel River in Amsterdam. I am now in the land of windmills, canals, clogs, and parakeets.

Parakeets? There are flock of bright green Rose-ringed parakeets (Psittacula krameri) in Amsterdam. They are noisy birds, and the story goes that one owner got so fed up with his pet parakeets that he let them fly off. Since they came from the foothills of the Himalayas, they had no problem surviving and breeding in the Netherlands.

Will the parakeets compete for resources with the local bird populations? Probably not catastrophically. Owls and goshawks now feed on them, keeping their numbers down. But they are probably here to stay.

Are bonobos hippie chimps?

Probably not. Very good article in The New Yorker.

Most of our current knowledge comes from observing bonobos in captivity.

Captivity can have a striking impact on animal behavior. As Craig Stanford, a primatologist at the University of Southern California, recently put it, “Stuck together, bored out of their minds—what is there to do except eat and have sex?”

Gorillas murdered


The BBC reports from Congo’s Virunga National Park,

Conservationists have expressed concern over the “senseless and tragic” killing of four mountain gorillas in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The bodies of three females and one male were discovered by rangers earlier this week in the Virunga National Park.

Officials said the “executions” were not the work of poachers because they would have taken the bodies.[…]

Because poachers would have sold the bodies as food or trophies, conservationists think the apes were killed by a group that was trying to scare wardens out of the park.

Similar killings of mountain gorillas took place in Rwanda to get back at the late Dian Fossey, of Gorillas in the Mist fame. She was widely hated in the local community because of her outspoken racism and violence against local people. It makes one wonder if community relations in the Virunga National Park are as good as they should be. And do the benefits to the local population of Virunga National Park outweigh the opportunity costs of the park?

Update: National Geographic reports that “Virtually all the charcoal supplied to nearby Goma—worth an estimated U.S. $30 million a year—is made from wood harvested illegally inside Virunga National Park”.