REDD+, A Force of Nature
On DRC Independence Day June 30th 2020, Everland launched its inaugural webinar p resenting the pioneering Wildlife Works Mai Ndombe REDD+ Project
In a video recording for the REDD+, A Force of Nature webinar, Her Excellency Madame Jeanne Ilunga Zaina, Vice Minister of the Environment and Sustainable Development for the DRC, discussed her country's ambition for a green new future and praised Wildlife Works for its numerous achievements to stop deforestation and bring much needed benefits to the local forest community.
Prof Jean-Robert Bwangoy Banzanka Bolambee, DRC Country Director for Wildlife Works, grandson of Etoti, Chief of Lokanga, Wangoy Lombokole Bolambee, Chief of Bosongo (from the project area), envisioned this conservation project more than 12 years ago. Against tremendous challenges and with an unwavering commitment, he never let go of his dream. Jean-Robert spoke about the drivers of deforestation, the economic alternatives introduced by the project and elaborated on how social and biodiversity impacts at the project align with the UN Sustainable Development Goals.
Basabo Boot’Ombala, Chief of Batwa Pygymy Village of Ikita, one of 23 villages in the project area, was interviewed for a video presentation about life in Ikita and what the Mai Ndombe REDD+ Project means to the Indigenous Batwa Pygmy community.

“Here in my village, the forest is our main source of everything. Our livelihood is highly dependent on the forest. That is the reason why we are saving the forest. We can’t survive without the forest. The forest is my and the whole (Ikita) population’s survival.”
Mike Korchinsky, founder and president of Wildlife Works, developer of the Mai Ndombe REDD+ project, discussed the importance of the Congo Basin rainforest and Mai Ndombe specifically. Mike explained that Wildlife Works' conservation projects are founded on community engagement and job creation. 

"Development will and must come to the communities of the Congo Basin Forest. They will find their voice after being silenced by circumstances for so long. We believe our project demonstrates that their voice is asking for sustainable development, for environmental justice. as well as social and economic justice.

The reason we have been successful is the project focuses on community needs. We bring expertise, not attitude or assumptions."
Watch the video "Amazing Congo"
All photos and videos: Filip Agoo
Introducing the Wildlife Works Mai Ndombe REDD+ Project
Location: Mai Ndombe Province, Democratic Republic of the Congo
Developer: Wildlife Works
Hectares of forest protected: 300,000
Verified CO2 emissions avoided to date: 13,322,276 tonnes
Annual CO2 emissions avoided: 2,400,000 tonnes / year
Key species: Endangered bonobos and forest elephants
People impacted: 180,000
Start date: 2011
Protecting the world’s second largest tropical rainforest while supporting some of the world’s most impoverished people

The Mai Ndombe REDD+ project is utilizing carbon finance to address the basic development needs of 180,000 remote people living in the area with little to no access to basic social services.
Project summary

The Mai Ndombe REDD+ project protects 300,000 hectares of critical bonobo and forest elephant habitat within the Congo Basin, the world’s second-largest intact rainforest which also contains one of the most important wetlands on the planet. 

This project reduces the principal drivers of forest and biodiversity loss and is charting a new pathway for community prosperity through comprehensive investments into the surrounding local communities.

Such investments include building schools, providing healthcare services and supporting food security and nutrition.
Origins

In 2008, following a revision by the government of the DRC National Forest Code, and in an effort to address corruption in the sector, 91 of the 156 logging contracts then in effect in the DRC were suspended. 

It was at this time that Wildlife Works implemented a REDD+ conservation strategy, convincing the Minister of Environment to convert two logging concessions to conservation and to award them to Wildlife Works to prevent the concessions from being restored to logging. Wildlife Works uses revenues from the sale of carbon credits to establish sustainable development opportunities for the local community while protecting the area from deforestation.
Key threats

Prior to the project, logging companies had severely damaged the forest in the region and had largely ignored the rights and health of the wildlife and community. Logging drove already threatened wildlife populations further down and brought little to no economic benefit to the local people. In the western part of the DRC, along the west side of Lake Mai Ndombe, logging had begun on almost 250,000 hectares of rainforest. 

At the same time, the 180,000 people living in the project area had little access to basic social services, and remain highly vulnerable to disease, with children frequently dying in outbreaks of preventable and treatable diseases such as measles.
Intervention model

Since the project launch in 2011, logging has halted and with the aid of reforestation programs, the deforested areas have had a chance to regenerate, bringing back biodiversity and the ability for wildlife to thrive. 

The project has introduced agroforestry nurseries and sustainable farming techniques to relieve deforestation pressure.

The project has built seven schools to date with two more under construction, providing education to over 900 children who previously did not have access to formal education. 

The project has established a mobile medical clinic providing HIV testing and emergency medical response, treating thousands of patients who previously had little or no access to health care.
 
Supported by Wildlife Works and Everland, the project provided emergency vaccinations for children in all villages during the measles outbreak of 2019.
2020 Impact Highlights
Providing access to education

Providing access to education has far-reaching benefits to a community that will have a profound and lasting impact on their health and prosperity, as well as that of the forest they live in: Children of mothers who have had an education are at lower mortality risk, and communities with more educated young people are less destructive of the forest. 

During Q1, 2020 four school buildings were completed in the Batwa Pygymy Village of Ikita, Nsongo, Inunu and Lobeke, important progress toward the project’s commitment to build schools in each village in the project area. 

In partnership with the local community, Wildlife Works provided construction materials and worked with the community on building these schools. 

School uniforms have also been distributed in Ikita and Nsongo and all schools of the project area received recognition from the National Government, who will be paying for teacher salaries. This is a crucial development in enabling the project to begin benefitting from public social services that have been traditionally unavailable in this remote area. 
Maternal health clinic in Ibali

For the first time, a clinic is being built in the village of Ibali as part of the project’s commitments to the communities under the Carbon Rights Agreement between the project and the communities within the project area. 

Maternal mortality rates are very high in Ibali with approximately 1,300 deaths per 100,000 births. Malaria is also highly endemic in this area, and the number one cause of death of children.

The project is building this clinic to support women and children’s health, helping to fill a critically important gap where local and national government services are lacking.  
High yield Casava

High-yielding cassava materials have been introduced to villages throughout the project area after overwhelming success in a demonstration garden in the Lokanga village. 

The demonstration showed the community how high-yield vegetal material can deliver tremendous productivity even in marginal soil: The harvest from the demonstration plot, made with community members, showed ten times the productivity compared to traditional cassava varieties.

Each community subsequently requested access to this cassava varietal. Unsustainable extensive slash and burn agriculture is the main driver of deforestation in the project area, with low yield cassava production being the key driving force. Planting high-yield cassava in fallows and secondary forest will significantly reduce the pressure on primary forest conversion, permitting the community to grow far more food on less land.
Fishponds in Loombe

Ten fishponds are being constructed in Loombe as a first demonstration of the ability for local communities to sustainably produce fish from farms in order to improve their livelihoods. 

People in the project area have historically relied on fish production from Lake Mai-Ndombe. With the lake substantially depleted from overfishing, the community has come to rely heavily on low-yielding cassava cultivation for food security, putting pressure on the forest.

By bringing sustainable fish farming activities to the local villages, and combining this with high-yielding cassava, the project will help improve the community’s nutrition and alleviate the pressure on the forest. In a joint effort, project partner Wildlife Works/Era-Congo has provided material and a fishpond building engineer, and local community members are helping with the construction of the fishponds.
Biodiversity monitoring shows Elephants returning to project area

Biodiversity monitoring is an important tool the project utilizes to protect the forest habitat and its endangered species. A team specialized in biodiversity monitoring tracks high biodiversity areas twice a month, along with local community members who have been trained for that purpose. 

A key indicator of success for the Mai Ndombe REDD+ project is the return of elephants to the project area, as well as the ongoing protection of endangered species with continued presence in the area. In Q1 the project monitored the growth of both elephant and Bonobo populations — with elephants specifically at a high pace.

This is an exciting development for the project – one that has also come with new warning signs. The biodiversity monitoring team convenes regularly with villagers, who are able to provide important information related to poaching activities in the area. In Q1 2020, monitoring showed a new and increasing presence of poachers in the area. This troubling development is one to which the project is building a rapid response, and will remain an area of continued focus by the project going forward. The Mai Ndombe project team continues to engage with their Wildlife Works colleagues at the Kasigau Corridor REDD+ project in Kenya, learning and adapting best practices in patrolling and enforcement to the challenging circumstances of this very remote area. 
The Measles epidemic

Unusually high water in the Mai Ndombe lake contributed to the devastating 2019 measles outbreak in the project area, with hundreds of children still suffering every day in the first quarter of 2020. The outbreak severely tested the project, and the team dedicated themselves completely to bringing effective, timely relief to the communities in the project area whose lives were at stake. 

The project spent nearly $50,000 USD on emergency medical response, buying medicine and renting planes to bring doctors and nurses to the villages. Many lives were saved as a direct result of the project’s action and response. Now that the measles epidemic has passed, preventing the occurrence of such outbreaks is the focus for the project moving forward. The project plans to team up with public health officials for vaccination campaigns during the dry season, to prevent the possibility of the epidemic resurfacing during the next rainy season. 
Project Impacts Over Time
FOREST
300,000 hectares of forest protected since 2011

13,322,276 tonnes of emissions avoided to date.
WILDLIFE
T wo endangered species protected: the Bonobo and Forest Elephant. The current population of the Bonobo is estimated between 30,000 - 50,000. About 20 Bonobos live in the protection area. The current population of the Forest Elephant is estimated at 100,000. About 30 Forest Elephants live in the project area.
COMMUNITY
7 schools built and 2 under construction

3,000 people receiving health services mobile medical clinic providing HIV testing, emergency medical response and vaccines

112 local people employed.
Meet Impact Photographer Filip C Agoo
In December 2019, Everland commissioned Impact Photographer Filip Cederholm Agoo to document the Wildlife Works Mai Ndombe REDD+ project.
About Everland

Everland is a specialized marketing company supporting climate change mitigation, forest conservation, wildlife protection and community development.

We bring together forest communities and corporations in a common cause to protect some of the world’s most important and vulnerable forests.

Everland helps its clients become an integral part of the communities who are on the front line of forest conservation and wildlife protection. Through deep due diligence and impact reporting, we ensure that clients are investing in real impact. We help our clients gain value from their support of REDD+ projects by producing compelling content and supporting external communications, providing direct relationships with the projects, assisting with employee, customer and shareholder engagement, and developing inspired marketing concepts that enhance brand equity and integrate sustainability into their business models.
Everland Business Development Contacts

Everland represents the Mai Ndombe REDD+ project exclusively.
To learn more about our work, contact us.

Transportation & Travel: angela.fosterrice@everlandmarketing.com
Latin America & Spain: natalia.toloza@everlandmarketing.com

SAVE THE EARTH, ONE FOREST AT A TIME