REDD+ pilot project in Nepal provides seed grants to communities for their role in conservation and sustainable management of forests

At a ceremony organized at the Asia Network for Sustainable Agriculture and Bioresources (ANSAB) – Kathmandu, representatives from three watersheds in Dolakha, Gorkha, and Chitwan districts received REDD+ seed grants of US$ 95,000 for the third year as carbon payments for their contributions to conservation and sustainable management of forests. The watersheds maintained and increased 69,959 tons of carbon dioxide in two years from the baseline stock of 4,292,967 in 2010. Director General of Department of Forest, Mr. Bishwanath Oli and the Executive Director of ANSAB, Dr. Bhishma P. Subedi handed check amount of US $43,156, US $26,184, and US $25,659 respectively to the REDD networks of Chanarwati watershed of Dolakha, Ludhikhola watershed of Gorkha, and Kayerkhola watershed of Chitwan districts under the Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation Plus (REDD+) project.

The REDD+ pilot project was implemented since 2009 in 112 CFUGs by ANSAB, International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) and Federation of Community Forest Users, Nepal (FECOFUN) with the financial support of Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (NORAD). It is one of the world’s first carbon offset projects involving local communities in monitoring the carbon in their forests and providing the necessary training for them to do so, and covers 10,364 hectares of community-managed forest and has an outreach to over 17,535 households with about 98,196 forest-dependent people. The project established a pilot Forest Carbon Trust Fund (FCTF) in 2011 for the development of an institutional mechanism to ensure equitable benefit sharing and forest carbon payments to local communities, and provided US $100,000 as seed money per year from 2011 to 2013. FCTF has already made two forest-carbon payments to the three watersheds in 2011 and 2012.

As the three pilot sites are heterogeneous in terms of forest area, population density, ethnic composition, and livelihood conditions, the pilot fund addresses equity issues by combining performance criteria with social and economic criteria. Thus REDD payments are allocated to local communities based on six basic elements: 1) the quantity of the carbon stock maintained, 2) increment of forest carbon above the baseline, 3) the number of households of indigenous people, 4) the number of households of minority groups, 5) the ratio of men and women, and 6) the number of poor households within the project area.

The 6,094 hectare Charnawati watershed in Dolakha sequestered a total of 4.75 million tonnes of carbon dioxide in 2013, an increase of 63,166 tonnes of carbon dioxide compared to 2012. Based on the above criteria, this watershed received an amount of US $43,156.

The 1,888 hectare Ludikhola watershed in Gorkha sequestered 1.53 million tonnes of carbon dioxide in 2011, an increase of 28,469 tonnes over 2010. This watershed received an amount of US $26,184.

The 2,382 hectare Kayarkhola Watershed in Chitwan sequestered about 2.58 million tonnes in 2013. This represented an increase of 25,467 tonnes over 2010. The watershed received an amount of US$ 25,659.

On average, between 2012 and 2013, the increase in carbon stored in forests under the pilot project through their conservation and sustainable management was 2.96, 3.93 and 3.72 tonnes of carbon dioxide per hectare in the community forests of Dolakha, Gorkha, and Chitwan, respectively.

The communities from the three watershed areas and the project implementation partners thank NORAD for this project.