More than 50% of the population in the project area lives below the poverty line and one in five is chronically food insecure.

The project

The project was established to create a ring of protection around three key protected areas and reduce deforestation and degradation in Nyika National Park, Vwaza Wildlife Reserve, and Nkhotakota Wildlife Reserve. These areas all differ climatically and ecologically but are facing similar threats.

The goal of the project is to create forest based sustainable livelihoods for these communities and mitigate threats to forest resources. This includes implementing community based forest protection through patrols and project area demarcation, creating energy sources for local communities, and distributing more efficient cookstoves.

A critical requirement for the project’s success has been the formalising of a long-term partnership with local communities, giving them rights to sustainably use the area's natural capital and conserve it. To achieve this it has strengthened the land tenure agreements and is creating participatory, decentralised governance through community associations and the Department of National Parks and Wildlife that will co-manage the area. This also allows for the rights and access to natural resources to be transferred to local communities. 

Project partners

The project works with Total LandCare (TLC) which has extensive experience in the country and has worked in Malawi since 1999. TLC’s mission is to improve the livelihoods of smallholder farmers in the region with a focus on community based approaches to increase agricultural production, food security and income within a context that ensures sound management of natural resources.

The project was established through money from a USAID grant award for the Kulera Biodiversity project, with the explicit aim for carbon revenues to support the project after this initial funding was secured. The funding for these activities has been supported entirely from carbon credit sales since 2013. Notably, the local communities are participants in this project. The communities are represented by Nyika-Vwaza Association and Nkhotakota Wildlife Reserve Association which were created as a result of the project and will be democratically elected to serve the communities. These community associations will maintain agreements with community members to ensure that communities have given informed consent and continue to support the project.

Carbon accounting

The carbon emissions reductions are calculated from a protected area of approximately 170,000 hectares. However, the total management zone of the project compromises over 750,000 hectares with the additional area acting as a buffer around the carbon accounting area and supporting all the project’s community and conservation activities. 

The methodology used for this project is “Carbon Accounting for Mosaic and Landscape-scale REDD+ Projects”. This methodology quantifies the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reductions and removals generated in mosaic and landscape scale REDD+ projects by allowing such project activities to be combined with improved forest management, afforestation, reforestation and re-vegetation activities, as well as clean cookstove initiatives. This allows for a more holistic landscape approach to REDD+ activities that integrates efforts to protect forests with programmes to improve the livelihoods of rural communities. 

In addition to the Verified Carbon Standard (VCS) validation for carbon accounting, the project has achieved Gold Level status under the Climate, Community and Biodiversity (CCB) Standard as it both significantly assists communities in adapting to the impacts of climate change and displays high biodiversity benefits.

Further details on alignment with the Sustainable Development Goals