Charlie Langan, Senior Carbon Programme Manager at WLT, visits the Trust’s largest Carbon Balanced project in Vietnam.
Six weeks after starting at WLT, I headed to Vietnam to meet our local partner, Viet Nature, and visit the Trust’s largest carbon project in Khe Nuoc Trong. In my new role I need to become acquainted with the impressive portfolio of carbon projects being run by WLT’s partners in Ecuador, Mexico, Paraguay, Guatemala, and Vietnam.
The project in Vietnam is about conserving lowland tropical forests which historically covered much of this region but are now reduced to fragments. It aims to protect some amazing animal species like Sunda Pangolin, Saola (the forest unicorn) and Red-shanked Douc which we watched through telescopes across the valley from where the gibbons sing. A vital element of this project is about reducing illegal deforestation, and protecting the carbon stored in the trees from being released and contributing to climate change.
The development stage of the project has laid out the ground work required to understand the challenges to forest management that the project will have to address. This includes calculating the amount of carbon that is currently stored in the trees and making estimations of future gains if the forest can be better protected. University of Leeds supported research teams have been making repeat visits to the depths of the forest to measure trees and the impact of logging over a number of years. This information will support the local forest management board and provincial forest enforcement department to target illegal deforestation and ensure more sustainable forest management.
Local community engagement, as always, is paramount and opportunities are given for communities to voice their concerns, to influence and guide the development of the project so it can help address the pressing needs of the poor households surrounding the forest. As an environmental economist, I believe this is at the heart of conservation challenges; nature does a good job of looking after itself, we just have to take care of the people by sustainable supporting communities in their own vision.
These surveys will be repeated periodically over the 30-year lifetime of the project, and this data will allow changes to carbon, biodiversity and communities to be measured. Monitoring the progress of the project towards its objectives, evaluate performance and adjusting the approach to forest protection will ensure that it works and continues to provide sustainable benefits. The carbon benefits can be used by our supporters to offset their emissions from flights and other activities through donating to WLT’s Carbon Balanced programme.
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Featured Image credit: World Land Trust