The new word in conservation is REDD+. And Wildlife Works, in Tsavo, is the world's leading REDD+ project and development company. But what exactly is REDD+? Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD+) is a climate change mitigation strategy introduced by the United Nations to help stop the destruction of the world's forests. By setting a ﬁnancial value on the carbon stored in forests, REDD+ is a scheme that oﬀers incentives to developing countries to reduce emissions from forested lands. Put simply, developing countries get payments for their conservation projects.
Wildlife Works has put this concept into practice with such extraordinary success that it has won multiple awards and accolades. The Kasigau Corridor, 500,000 acres of highly threatened Kenyan forest, was the site of the world's ﬁrst REDD+ project to receive carbon credits; this will result in avoiding over 1.5 million tonnes of CO2-e emissions per year
for the next 30 years.
All this is good news – but what does it mean for the people and animals on the ground?
Money raised from the sale of carbon credits goes directly to community projects focusing on education, access to water, infrastructure development, health and sanitation. These projects are all well and good – but there's much more to it than this. Providing people with employment so they can support themselves and their families is not only beneﬁcial to
their lives, but fundamental to their sense of worth.
In 2000, Wildlife Works established a clothing eco-factory. The world's only carbon neutral, fair trade factory that also protects wildlife, this factory produces a range of trendy tees, tops, tanks and more for sale through their website and in shops around the world. It also employs over 70 people, giving them a regular income and making it no longer necessary for them to resort to burning trees for charcoal or poaching animals to survive.
Wildlife Works' eco-charcoal project makes legal 'green' charcoal from sustainably grown hardwood trees. The briquettes are sold in recyclable bags at aﬀordable prices – reducing local reliance on the illegal charcoaling that was not only destroying forests but producing high levels of CO2 emissions. And of course, the project provides the local community with yet more employment. With an array of jobs in education, agriculture, conservation and tourism, and a host of smaller ventures producing local crafts, eco-soap and more, Wildlife Works is now the third largest employer in the county.
Combining local employment with the protection of wildlife fuses two missions at the heart of Wildlife Works. Their team of 120 security staﬀ operates eight bases across the project area. With six ranger vehicles and two gyrocopters, these people provide surveillance and anti-poaching for the area. All sightings and incidents are reported immediately to the Kenya Wildlife Service and all follow-up activities are carried out jointly with KWS.
Since Wildlife Works was established in 1997, the turn- around has been signiﬁcant. The bush is growing back and the animals returning. The forest is now home to over 50 species of large mammals including Kenya's famous big cats and over 2,000 elephants, and around 300 species of birds.
The world’s only carbon neutral fair trade factory that also protects wildlife
In a region where the community and wildlife were at loggerheads, Wildlife Works has come up with a market- driven solution to wildlife conservation to the beneﬁt of both people and animals. The proof is in the pudding! Land that was barren, destroyed by over grazing, charcoal production, tree cutting and subsistence farming, is now lush, green and teeming with game.
In the words of Chief Kizaka of Kasigau Location who represents 12,000 people: 'REDD+ brings a positive change to our region with real and direct solutions for poverty alleviation that will uplift our community… Carbon money helps us meet basic needs and improve our lifestyle. The money is earned through conservation activities that aﬀord us the ability to protect our environment.'
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