CO2logic & WWF protect Virunga National Park in DRC through reforestation and sustainable energy project ‘EcoMakala-Virunga’, supported by UCB.14-04-2021
The Gold Standard certified ‘EcoMakala’ project aims to tackle the illegal deforestation activities in the Democratic Republic of Congo’s Virunga National Park in the North Kivu region. The project started out in Goma, the region’s capital, where more than 97% of the population is dependent on charcoal (‘makala’ in swahili) as their main source of energy. However, 80% of these needs are met by illegal deforestation in Virunga, causing an ecological crisis, as well as armed conflicts, posing risks to women and children, and threatening the invaluable biodiversity of the park.
“Gorilla beringei beringei”, the endangered mountain gorillas of Virunga Park.
To tackle these issues, our team at CO2logic partnered with WWF, UCB and over 130 local associations to reforest the areas surrounding Virunga and introduce a more sustainable type of charcoal and energy efficient cookstoves for the households of Goma and other cities in North Kivu.
CO2logic supervises CO2 emission reductions through reforestation & sustainable energy activities
179,000t CO2 emissions cut after planting 10,000 hectares of trees around Virunga, with 10,000 ha more planned in the coming years.
Over 5000 small-scale tree-planters (moving up to 9000 in the coming years) were trained to reforest the areas around Virunga with fast-growing species to provide a new and more sustainable source of charcoal, thereby limiting the need for illegal deforestation of primary forest in Virunga. These new forests also halt land degradation and provide more accessible wood, away from militia territories, posing less risks to the families of Goma.
One of the first female smallholders that CO2logic & WWF partnered with for the reforestation.
One of the expertises our team brings to the project is to measure the carbon sequestration with FarmTrace, an innovative tool which allows them to calculate the amount of emissions avoided & reduced, e.g. 179,000 tonnes through the reforestation project so far. FarmTrace’s technology combines remote sensing and machine learning to interpret satellite images of the forests, which allows CO2logic to accurately measure the carbon stored by the new trees.
After 10-15 years, the ambition is to have reforested approximately 20.000 hectares around Virunga, which corresponds to the size of Ghent & its surrounding areas.
2. Green Energy
Sustainable charcoal & efficient cookstoves cut over 50,000t CO2 emissions so far
Besides planting new trees, the EcoMakalaVirunga climate project also focuses on turning the wood these trees produce into sustainable charcoal (‘ecomakala’) using more efficient kilns. At the same time, the EcoMakala team set up a new supply chain with the local company Goma Stove to sell improved cookstoves to the citizens of Goma. Thanks to these improved cookstoves, households need only 50% of the charcoal to provide the same energy, and the stoves produce far less smoke. So far, 5000 of these improved stoves have been sold in Goma, with a continued utilization rate of 90% after 3 years, and the project is so successful that it is now expanding to other major cities like Butembo and Beni.
Combining climate and social impact through Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)
“North Kivu is a very conflict sensitive region, which makes it challenging to carry out our projects there, but at the same time it’s all the more important to focus on actions with a positive impact on society, in line with the SDGs. That’s why we worked together closely with local associations and set up new networks and marketing chains with local players, which have positively impacted the community”, states Antoine Geerinckx, co-founder of CO2logic.
The EcoMakala project has provided new jobs for over 5000 people, ranging from tree-planters to technical employees, supply chain managers and nurserymen. Many farmers and other workers were also trained or educated in new skills and techniques, such as new valuation methods. All of this positively impacts SDG 8: decent work and economic growth and leads to higher incomes, decreasing poverty (SDG 1), allowing them to afford better healthcare (SDG 3) and better education (SDG 4).
SDG 7: Affordable and clean energy, is also positively impacted because ecomakala is cheaper than traditional charcoal, while maintaining similar quality and providing cleaner energy. All aspects of the EcoMakala project also contribute to SDG 15: Life on Land, which sets targets like protecting, restoring and promoting sustainable use of ecosystems and halting biodiversity loss.
Last but not least, two other important goals impacted by this project are of course SDG 13: Climate Action, and SDG 17: Partnership, as WWF, UCB, CO2logic and more than 130 local associations work together to positively impact the climate and society in North Kivu.
“North Kivu is not only a conflict zone, but also at risk of ebola outbreaks. These conditions made it a very difficult project to develop, but at the same time this makes it all the more rewarding to see that we’re succeeding through partnerships and positively impacting the SDGs at the same time”, states Herman Noppen, project director at CO2logic.
Our strategy for CO2 neutral corporates: Calculating and reducing emissions, then developing certified climate projects to offset remaining emissions.
The EcoMakala project is part of UCB’s journey towards becoming CO2 neutral. To achieve this goal, CO2logic advisors first helped UCB to calculate and reduce their emissions as much as possible in line with the science-based targets (SBT). After that, we involved UCB in the EcoMakala project to support its development & to potentially offset their remaining emissions through this project.
“In parallel with an extensive SBT journey, CO2logic also involved us to support the development of the EcoMakala project and the many positive impacts it has both on the environment and society. The project allows us to see direct results of our investments, increase the amount of CO2 reductions and, consequently, generate additional carbon credits”,
says Anne-Laure Demarcy, in charge of sustainability at UCB.
At CO2logic, we develop innovative climate projects like this one for different corporate partners. In order to fit CO2-neutrality strategies, the projects are always certified and monitored by external parties, thereby guaranteeing that their impact is measurable, trackable, permanent and inclusive. For more information about our climate projects, visit https://www.co2logic.com/en/climate-projects.