Governors’ Climate and Forests Fund Awards EcoLogic $200,000 Grant

Cojolita horizon 2

The Lacandon jungle.

EcoLogic and its partners have been awarded a $200,000 grant from the Governors’ Climate and Forests (GCF) Fund to provide support for EcoLogic’s CarbonPlus work in the Mexican States of Chiapas and Campeche. The GCF focuses on reducing CO2 emissions from deforestation and establishing lasting frameworks for low-emissions development. The GCF Fund is supporting EcoLogic and local partners’ efforts to improve forest carbon monitoring using high resolution LiDAR imagery that measures the biomass (measuring the carbon stored in trees and vegetation).

Through its CarbonPlus program EcoLogic is working with local communities and governments to offer an alternative development vision: what if instead of having to clear parcels of forest to survive, rural communities could receive compensation for their efforts to conserve? This is the basis for the UN’s Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+) mechanism. EcoLogic believes that when properly applied, REDD+ can be an extremely effective tool for protecting forests and providing economic opportunity for local peoples. Through this project, EcoLogic will also support local communities, state governments and civil society institutions in Chiapas and Campeche in navigating the technical and policy requirements of REDD+.

Luke Pritchard, GCF Fund Program Manager, says that “well-functioning multi-stakeholder partnerships are absolutely essential for REDD+ to work on a national scale. EcoLogic brings both the technical expertise and the ability to be the nexus between a variety of sectors, including government, academia, and local communities. Through this funding Campeche and Chiapas will demonstrate an innovative new paradigm in forest monitoring where cutting edge technology is combined with effective community participation to accurately measure and monitor forests.”

Rural and indigenous peoples inhabit some of the last vestiges of rainforest that the planet depends on for survival. Although the indigenous cultural traditions observed by many of these communities respect the balance between human needs and the limits of nature, most of these individuals live in extreme poverty, with no other source of food or income other than what they can produce on the land. Current subsistence practices include the clearing of small sections of forest to cultivate crops, graze small herds of cattle, and extract wood for fuel. EcoLogic’s efforts seek to balance the livelihood needs of indigenous and rural peoples, often historically marginalized groups, with global efforts to conserve and restore tropical ecosystems, thwart climate change, and curtail species extinction.

Tools for measuring the current forest carbon stocks and for tracking deforestation and other forest disturbances are needed so that there is a baseline to measure changes in forest cover over time. With the grant funds, EcoLogic will train local people to assist with the monitoring and documentation of forest cover and local conservation efforts. Detailed biomass maps for Calakmul, Campeche, and La Selva Lacandona will be developed as part of the validation process required to be eligible for funding through the REDD+ mechanism.

The project will involve and train local indigenous communities, state level governments, universities, and local NGOs in Chiapas and Campeche, Mexico, to lay the groundwork for communities to receive compensation for their role as forest stewards. But, before this can happen, legal and policy frameworks have to be established to make sure that funds are distributed fairly and transparently. In addition, EcoLogic will advocate for land management plans so that destructive land use practices don’t merely shift from the location receiving REDD+ funds to another location nearby.

EcoLogic’s senior program manager for CarbonPlus, Bryan Foster, noted, “We’re extremely grateful for the GCF’s support and are pleased to be able to bring our 20 years of experience in community-based conservation work in Mexico and Central America, and combine it with state-of the-art mapping technology. In this exciting partnership we are aiming to continue to identify and implement livelihood solutions for rural people who live in areas of high biodiversity to conserve forests and providing natural resource training opportunities so that they can lead these efforts moving forward.”

You can learn more about our efforts in Chiapas and Campeche here on GCF’s website.

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