Annai now able to measure forest carbon

-hoping to join Guyana-Norway scheme

Annai is one of several Amerindian communities which are now able to measure the carbon contained in their forests and the north Rupununi village hopes to become the first community to join a scheme under the Guyana-Norway partnership and receive funds for protecting its forests.

“The north Rupununi communities are probably the only communities that are ready to opt in,” Chief Executive Officer of the North Rupununi District Development Board (NRDDB) Ivor Marslow told Stabroek News. Over the past two years, the 16 communities of the north Rupununi have been implementing the first Community Monitoring, Reporting & Verification (CMRV) project in Guyana, which, among other activities, quantified the amount of carbon in the biomass of the communities.

“We are hoping that Annai village will be the first village to opt in because we are actually ready,” the CMRV project manager Bryan Allicock told a stakeholders’ meeting at Cara Lodge on Friday. “We have all the mechanisms in place,” he added.

Guyana and Norway are partnering in a forest protection scheme for which Guyana would be paid for preserving its forests. Payments are result-based with deforestation and forest degradation measured against an agreed level. Guyana could earn up to US$250 million from Oslo in performance-based payments for the period up until 2015, based on an independent verification of Guyana’s deforestation and forest degradation rates and progress on REDD+ enabling activities.

Forests belonging to indigenous communities are not covered in the agreement but they can choose to opt in and receive payments for protecting their forests. However, an opt-in paper, years in the making, is still not yet ready and an Office of Climate Change official told the meeting that an “options paper” is being developed. She said that a range of comments were received and they are creating “options” which will be channelled to different stakeholders.

Marslow told Stabroek News that the communities have been able to determine how much carbon is stored in the biomass in their communities, and with the mechanisms in place for monitoring, reporting and verification, they are ready to opt in.

The CMRV project is being implemented in 16 communities within the North Rupununi wetlands by the NRDDB in partnership with the lwokrama Centre and the Global Canopy Programme (GCP) of the UK with funding by the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (NORAD). The Guyana Forestry Commission and the NRDDB have also signed a Memorandum of Cooperation to collaborate on establishing a Com-munity Demonstration Site in the Annai district which consists of five villages; and to build synergy between the community and national MRV model systems.

The CMRV project draws on the traditional knowledge systems of forest management practised by Indigenous peoples in Guyana and builds local Amerindian capacities and expertise in new technologies for monitoring their own community resources. The project has seen the development of a community-based system to monitor the forest and land use and other key components including assessments of community well-being; surveys on traditional (rotational) farming; exercises in ground-truthing the satellite-derived map of deforestation & degradation of the community lands; and training community personnel to measure biomass/forest carbon in community forests.

The overall goal is that forest-dependent communities in Guyana are empowered to benefit from future payments for ecosystem services/REDD+ payments through community-based forest monitoring of biodiversity, ecosystem services and human well-being.

The CMRV project, though still in the early stages, is already being transferred to the Wai-Wai with support from the WWF, Allicock disclosed.

In giving an overview of the project thus far, Allicock said that the north Rupununi communities will now be able to better manage their resources and have said that they will incorporate the information in their community development plans. In one of the surveys of top hunters in a particular village, it was found that 27 labba were killed in the community over three months, and data like this will help in management of the community’s resources, Allicock said. He added that some persons have moved off from a dependence on wildmeat and have started to rear chickens.

In addition, Marslow said that the data will be shared with the GFC and the data gathered under the project consolidates a lot of the work that the NRDDB has been doing under other projects.

Stakeholders present at the meeting on Friday praised the project and what the communities had achieved. Following the discussions, it is hoped that a Stakeholder Advisory Group will be established to help to review the outputs and directions of the project during 2014 and a permanent stakeholder forum for wider monitoring could eventually be set up.

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