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Closer look: The Wonegizi Community REDD+ Pilot

Sinoe Mangrove in Liberia. Credit: Josh Kempinski/FFI.
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Written by: Josh Kempinski
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Northwest Liberia holds the largest remaining tract of the Upper Guinean Rainforest that once covered all of West Africa. At the heart of this ecosystem lies one of Liberia’s most important forests, the Wonegizi Proposed Protected Area, which encompasses Liberia’s second highest peak and forms a massive trans-boundary forest complex with the Ziama Biosphere Reserve, across the border in Guinea.

Fauna & Flora International (FFI), together with local NGO Skills & Agricultural Development Services (SADS), and with the support of the Forest Development Authority, are pioneering a new approach for forest management in Liberia.

The Wonegizi Community REDD+ Pilot is a community-based approach to establish and co-manage the protected area – marking the first time that this approach has been used in Liberia.

The Wonegizi project will establish a new kind of rural economy in Liberia that conserves forests for development, biodiversity and climate objectives.

Effective forest protection will be rewarded under the Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation mechanism (REDD+), which pays local communities for reducing carbon emissions from forests, as well as for conserving and sustainably managing forests and enhancing forest carbon stocks.

The income generated from the sale of REDD+ carbon credits will compensate local people for opportunities lost due to reduced forest exploitation and provide the necessary support to transition to sustainable livelihoods (through land use planning, secure tenure, improving agricultural yields and additional benefits from forest protection).

FFI’s goals through this project are to:

  • Conserve biodiversity, including forest elephants, chimpanzees and endemic pygmy hippos;
  • Protect large areas of mature forest, safeguarding ecosystem services such as freshwater provision, flood control, pollination, cultural values and the provision of foods and medicine;
  • Empower communities and improve wellbeing by directly supporting local livelihoods;
  • Prevent millions of tonnes of carbon dioxide from reaching the atmosphere and contributing to global climate change;
  • Ensure that revenue generation and benefits to communities are dependent on performance, proving that emission reductions have been achieved through project activities.

The project profile can be found here: Wonegizi – Liberia REDD+ Pilot Project and our REDD+ policy briefing documents can be found on our REDD+ Resources page.

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Josh Kempinski

After completing an Ecological Management MSc at Imperial College, Josh moved to Vietnam, where he lived and worked for 7 years. In 2010, after 10+ years focusing on species conservation and protected area management, mostly with Fauna & Flora International, Josh moved into the emerging field of Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+). In his new role, Josh contributed to Vietnam’s REDD+ ‘Preparation Idea Note’, which helped release $3.5m from the World Bank for REDD+ ‘readiness’. He went on to design Vietnam's first sub-national REDD+ pilot, which is currently in its first – project-based – phase. More recently, Josh has worked in Liberia, co-authoring/editing the county’s REDD+ Readiness Plan for the World Bank, and has provided technical oversight to the development of Liberia’s first (and only) fully operational REDD+ pilot. Josh sees project-level REDD+ as framework for developing financially sustainable, equitable and locally managed protected areas; both formal reserves or national parks, or as community forests.

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