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GETTING REDDy - A story of communities conservation programme in Tanzania and Brazil

GETTING REDDy - A story of communities conservation programme in Tanzania and Brazil

The acronym REDD has nowadays acquired an immediate meaning for a number of governmental institutions, companies, researchers, NGO’s and actor of the civil society.

 It represents a first attempt, under the initiative of the United Nations, to make developed country accountable for the effort of less developed country to preserve their natural capital. It is the reconnaissance that the preservation of the forests has to be a joint effort because the consequences of their lost will be having repercussion far beyond boarder.

Having failed to be implemented in 2010 after Copenhagen, especially due to the lack of finance to the program, at a point that in 2013, Conservation International put out a short report which they described as an “SOS” for REDD and 2014 the Institute of Amazon Research (IPAM), together with other protection agencies have called the international community to increase the finance available to stimulate demand for emission reductions and meet the supply generated by REDD+ projects which are already helping reduce deforestation.  The REDD program was finally fully reintegrated in the Paris Agreement in 2015 as a financial tool for conservation initiatives and sustainable forest management.

Initiatives entering under the umbrella of the REDD+ program have spread around the world in the last years, with disputable success but anonymous feeling that more needs to be done for Forest Conservation.

As part of this effort from the developed country to act for the conservation forest, the Northern Province of Trento is leading an energetic revolution.

This part of Italy is enjoying a large degree of Autonomy in various sectors, from health to education and transports which have led the Autonomous Province of Trento to set up the goal of becoming a “Zero Emission Province”. The objective is to reduce the carbon emissions resulting from human activities of the province, that amount to 300,000 tons of CO2-eq, of which at least one tenth will be offset through reforestation projects and forest conservation projects.

This is precisely where entered the REDD program as a recognised platform for financial incentive for the protection of the Forest. 

The Province of Trento has chosen, as one of the flagship of its actions to reduce Emissions from deforestation and degradation, to support the initiative powered by Amazonia Onlus and Trentino Insieme Association that have operated in various project in Brazil and in Tanzania.

With the support of the Brazilian CoopXixuau, the Tanzania Forest Conservation Group and Muse - Science Museum of Trento, they have set-up an innovative program based on the collaboration South-South between two communities linked by the mutual challenges of the prevention of deforestation and improvement of the living conditions in very different socio-economic and environmental contexts.

From Tanzania to Brazil, all seems to disparate but it is without counting on the willing of the local communities to joint effort for the preservation of the environment.

The program named Getting REDDy is a pilot project, which aims to adopt a common approach for the protection of the forest by the empowerment of local communities and knowledge sharing. This type of initiative is acting as an enforcement of the legislative and moral presence of the REDD program in developed countries.

Getting ReDDy is filling the gap between government intentions and concert actions in term of forest conservation. The program accountability is an important criteria for the Trentino Province which make a direct contribution to the local communities of the Xixuaú, in center-northern Amazon and in the villages of Kizi and Galigali, located in Rubeho Mountains, in south-central Tanzania.

The core approach of the project is to encourage and develop a sustainable use of the natural resources of the two regions in order to improve the quality of live hood of the communities and ensure in the same time the protection of their environment.  The community approach promoted by Getting REDDy is essential for the success of any financial contribution for the protection of the environment and a guarantee of the sustainability of conservations program.

The Trentino-Amazon-Tanzania alliance is only at the beginning, to develop new activities and to identify new strategies for forest protection and support of its inhabitants, who have always been the guardians of this natural heritage, crucial to the future of the planet.

Interview of Chiara Tosi - Humanitarian Cooperation and Tropical Conservatio Specilaist - Amazonia Onlus - Trentino Insieme

·         Some ReDD+ program have been criticised because of their lack of involvement of local community. It is now currently admitted that REDD will fail unless it adequately accounts for, or indeed is steered by, these communities. Is it what getting Readdy is trying to address?

C.T - Certainly one of the main problem of the REDD’s project is concerning the real and concrete positive repercussion for the local communities, often not involved enough and not aware of the real significate of the REDD. Between the natives and institutions that are financing the REDD there is often a lot of intermediaries, amongst governmental institutions, politicians and administrator, who intercept the funds and don’t use them for the benefits of the natives and the protection of the forest of the worlds.

Our project Getting REDDy offers the big advantage of not having governmental intermediate, but to be developed directly from the creditors (Autonomous Province of Trento) passing by the executive organization of the project (Trentino Insieme) e coming directly to the beneficiaries (the native community of the Rio Jauaperi and Mount Rubeho in Tanzania).

·         Since how long have you been working on this project?

C.T - I have started to work on this project in 2010 as an environmental consultant of the Autonomous Province of Trento and with the association Trentino Insieme we have followed the implementation of the project in Brazil and Tanzania, with the collaboration of different partner: Amazonia Onlus in Italia, CoopXixuau in Brazil, the Tanzania Forest Conservation Group in Africa and the Muse – Science Museum of Trento in Italy.

·         The environmental context between the Brazilian tropical forest and the Savanna of Tanzania seems obvious but what is the main difference in term of socio-economics factors?

C.T – The project addresses the problem of the deforestation in two countries rich of tropical forest and biodiversity: Tanzania and Brazil. In the principle of the cooperation Sud-Sud the project intends to realize a collaborative bridge for the exchange of experiences and knowledges between two countries that have a huge potential for the development and realization of the REDD projects.

In fact, in Tanzania the project hasn’t been developed in the Savanna but in essentially forested area, in particular in the rainy forest of the eastern arc of Tanzania (Eastern Arc Mountains), which represents an important mechanism in the retention of carbon. Those forests are also part of one of the most extraordinary hotspot of biodiversity with the major concentration of endemic vertebrates in the planet. The subsistence of the local population is strongly dependent of those forests, who furnished wood to burn, medicinal plants, climate stability, drinking water and fertile soils in their margins. They also are a crucial hydrologic basin for the supply of water and electric energy for the cities of the countries, including the commercial capital, Dar Es Salaam.

The forests of the Eastern Arc are under strong pressure from commercial and subsistence agriculture, wood extraction and production of carbon. Only 20% of the original forests are still present. The local communities are poor (the average income is of 1$), and they have no or few alternative incomes and strongly depend from the resources of the forest for subsistence. Ad example, more than 95% of the local communities are depending from the wood to burn for cooking.

What differ most from the Amazonian contest from the African one are the social and anthropic features. While in Tanzania we have big villages with extreme human pressures, in the Amazon the population is numerally smaller and it is therefore possible a better control on the environment and the activity of the project.

·         Why brought you to work with the villages of Kizi and Galigali in particular?

C.T – Those villages in particular were chosen by our partner the Tanzania Forest Conservation Group, actively involved in humanitarian and environmental projects in that area.

·         In your opinion, what is the most valuable learning received by the Xixuau community?

C.T - The most valuable learning received by the Xixuau community is the awareness of its important role in the forest protection and above all the recognition it deserves in a global scale, and from other international institutions. Starting from this awareness, they are now more committed in the nature conservation and long term protection of the forest.

·         In your opinion, what is the most valuable learning received by the communities of Kizi and Galigali?

- Absolutely the same; one of the goals of the REDD project is to give a political identity to these populations, to make them protagonists of their future and the future of their environment.

·         Could you give us an example of knowledge exchange that has led to a new initiative in Tanzania or Brazil?

C.T - The use of camera traps as scientific method to collect field datas on endemic animal species (birds, reptiles and mammals above all) is the main knowledge exchange. This technique has been learned in Tanzania, from the Tanzania Forest Conservation Group and the Muse - Science Museum of Trento and exported in the Xixuau Community, where we have now a very interesting pilot survey of terrestrial mammals ongoing, following the guidelines of Tropical Ecology Assessment Monitoring (TEAM) network.

·         Do you think this program changed the perception of the local communities to their respective territory?

C.T - Totally. The native populations have always been very committed with the responsible and sustainable use of the forest resources, always living in deep contact with the forest and following the rhythms of the nature, but with the Getting REDDy we saw a big improvement in their environmental awareness. The project, for example, provided several training course for guides, field assistant, para taxonomists and ecological apprentices. With those new skills, the natives perceive that their future will be strictly related to the forest. Moreover, they are aware that the protection of the forest can help mitigate the effects of climate change.

·         What are you currently working on?

C.T - With Amazonia Onlus and Trentino Insieme Association we are going on with the Xixuau Project, but at the same time we are embracing new long standing projects, which aim at protecting the green belt of tropical forests of the Amazon, the Tanzania and the Sumatra ecosystems throught the support to the native populations and the development of new sustainable generating income activities.

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Beekeeping project in Tanzania

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Chiara Tosi in Summer Conference of Getting REDDy - a Trentino Insieme | Autonomous Province of Trento Project with the support of Amazonia Onlus in Italia, CoopXixuau in Brazil, the Tanzania Forest Conservation Group in Africa and the Muse – Science Museum of Trento in Italy.