Since its launch in 2011, the Kariba REDD+ project has protected nearly 785,000 hectares from deforestation and land degradation, preventing more than 18 million tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions being released into the atmosphere. The project continues to support regional sustainable development and the independence and wellbeing of local communities.
In recent decades, Zimbabwe has suffered from political and economic turbulence. With limited economic opportunities, desperate communities have delved deeper into the forests, clearing it for subsistence farming and fuelwood. More than a third of Zimbabwe's majestic forests have been lost. This leads to further instability for people with already precarious livelihoods.
The Kariba project ensures that 784,987 hectares of forest and wildlife on the southern shores of Zimbabwe's Lake Kariba are now protected. As one of the largest registered REDD+ project by area, it sits between the Chizarira, Matusadona and Mana Pools National Park (which is also a World Heritage Site), and Lower Zambezi National Park in Zambia. By connecting these four national parks and eight safari reserves, this project area forms a giant biodiversity corridor, ensuring the protection of an expansive rainforest and numerous vulnerable and endangered species, including: the African elephant, lion, common hippo, lappet-faced vulture and southern ground hornbill.
Beyond protecting the environment, a range of activities support the independence and wellbeing of local communities. Better health care is implemented through improving clinic amenities, infrastructural development such as new roads and new boreholes improve daily life, while school subsidies are made available for the poorest quartile of the population. Project activities such as conservation agriculture, community gardens, beekeeping training, fire management and ecotourism create jobs and facilitate sustainable incomes that benefit the entire community.