This week, in the “Get To Know the Stand For Trees Projects” weekly interview, I will be highlighting the incredible work of Wildlife Work’s Kasigau Wildlife Corridor Project in Kenya. I had the pleasure of interviewing Rob Dodson, the The VP of African Field Ops at the Rukinga Wildlife Sanctuary. Here is what we discussed:
Natalie: “What about the project are you most proud of?”
Rob: “I think one of the most important components of the project is getting the community revenue distribution system right, so that the community feels that they are receiving a fair and equitable share of revenue generated through their actions of protecting the forest around them. We have spent much time and effort, talking with the community, local leaders and the County and National Administration and I believe we have an excellent system in place, that works and really incentivizes the community to protect their environment.”
Natalie: “Can you describe the community your project works with and how REDD+ has benefitted that community?”
Rob: “The community in our project area is incredibly diverse, with an estimated 100,000 people living around our 500,000 acres of protected forest. Local communities surrounding the project area are made up predominantly of the Taita people, as well as a diverse range of other tribes, namely Duruma, Kamba, Turkana and Maasai. Communities are generally subsistence farmers, with some formal employment provided through tourism, education, health services, ranching and mining.
The REDD+ project has directly benefitted the community by creating over 350 jobs through project roles and through the creation of sustainable industries for alternative livelihoods, such as greenhouses, an eco-factory and a soap factory. Our community fund is community-led, currently focussing on water, education and health services. Our water projects in community areas have included rock catchments, pipeline extensions and the construction of water tanks, improving water access to over 25,000 community members in some of the areas hit hardest by water shortages. Our bursary scheme has provided improved access to education to over 3,000 vulnerable or orphaned children, some of whom would either not have been able to attend secondary school or not been able to fulfill their dreams of going into higher education. We have built and renovated classrooms in local schools, made desks, chairs and lockers for students, all improving education services for years to come.”
Natalie: “What are the top three things you want the world to know about the Kasigau Wildlife Corridor Project?”
Rob: “ 1) The Kasigau Corridor REDD+ Project is the first double validated and verified project of it’s type, which means that we are trying and testing many of the operating procedures that are being used on projects all over the world. 2) The Kasigau Corridor is a vital wildlife migration route that links two of the worlds largest protected areas; Tsavo East and Tsavo West National Parks. Over 12,000 elephants, more than half of Kenya’s elephant population, use this route between permanent water sources and forage in the two halves of the Tsavo Ecosystem. As well as elephants, more than 50 large mammal species including Lion, buffalo, giraffe, cheetah and wild dog use the Project as part of their range. These animals share the land with 115,000 community members, who live around the community ranches that form the Project Zone, making this project area incredibly rich and diverse. 3) The project has created over 350 direct jobs and our community outreach programme positively effects hundreds of other people.”
Natalie: “What were the key drivers of deforestation and how have you been able to overcome this?”
Rob: “The key drivers of deforestation in The Kasigau Corridor area are slash and burn agricultural practices, timber cutting and collection for building materials and firewood and charcoal production. We have been able to overcome this situation by financially incentivizing the community to protect the forest that remains and by physically protecting the forest with our Wildlife Works Community Rangers.”
Natalie: “How did you get into this field and what motivates you to do this work?”
Rob: “Having worked and traveled throughout many parts of Southern, Central and Eastern Africa, often following the continents inland waterways, I encountered human-wildlife conflict in many forms. Africa’s wealth of natural resources and richness of biodiversity often contrasts starkly with the poverty of her people and this sad dichotomy and the will to try and do something about is what brought me to Tsavo. Wildlife Works arrived in the area shortly after this and we started working together quite quickly and I joined the company in the year 2000.”
Code REDD and Stand For Trees are proud to support this project. If you want to learn more about the project and are inspired to protect this forest, click here now!
More about the project:
Nestled between Kenya’s Tsavo East and Tsavo West National Parks, the Kasigau Wildlife Corridor Project protects 500,000 acres of dryland forest and supports local communities of over 100,000 in job creation and sustainable development activities. When you offset your CO2 emissions by supporting the Kasigau Corridor Project, you simultaneously protect a vital wildlife migration corridor for endangered populations of African elephant, Grevy’s zebra, cheetah, lion and African wild dog, as well as more than 50 species of large mammals and over 300 species of birds. Without support for the project, local communities have little option to provide for their families other than slash-and-burn agriculture. Your Stand For Trees purchase is critical to valuing this forest for the vital services it provides, and to creating new, sustainable livelihoods for the people protecting it.
- This is the first REDD+ project in the world to issue Verified Emission Reductions verified to the VCS standard.
- Creates regional development of education, water access, women’s empowerment, agricultural intensification, and local business and job opportunities.
- Protects habitat for the African elephant, Grevy’s zebra, cheetah, lion and African wild dog.