10 years after its launch, the Livelihoods Carbon Fund is measuring the social and environmental impacts of its largest mangrove restoration project in Senegal. These results are both surprising and impressive.
In 2009, more than 100,000 Senegalese villagers were involved in a major project to restore the mangroves that provide fish and many other food resources and that had been largely destroyed over the years. In 3 years, they succeeded in planting 80 million mangroves between the estuaries of the Casamance and Siné Saloum rivers. This initiative, led by the Senegalese NGO Océanium, is the largest mangrove restoration program in the world. This project would lay the foundations of the Carbon Livelihoods Fund, with the objective of bringing together private companies, NGOs, local communities, the public sector and civil society in major programs to simultaneously combat environmental degradation, poverty and climate change.
The Livelihoods-Senegal project was financed through carbon finance: the 10 private companies gathered within the Livelihoods Carbon Fund have invested together in this reforestation program with the dual objective of offsetting part of their CO2 emissions, because mangroves have a high carbon storage capacity in trees and soil, and contributing to the sustainable improvement of the lives of local populations. Verra, one of the main international carbon standards, has certified that this project has already sequestered more than 160,000 tonnes of CO2 out of the 600,000 tonnes expected over its 20-year lifespan.
But, 10 years later, what about the villagers who participated in these replantings? Have they seen an improvement in their living conditions with more food security through a renewal of the stock of fish, shrimp and oysters? Have they been able to replant rice on their lands previously degraded by salt water as a result of deforestation? What do they keep from this extraordinary adventure? To answer all these questions, the Carbon Livelihoods Fund, in partnership with Ramsar Convention, IUCN and FFEM, commissioned La Tour du Valat, an independent research institute for the conservation of Mediterranean wetlands, and Océanium, the Senegalese NGO that implemented the Livelihoods-Senegal project, to conduct a study in the villages that participated in the project to assess its social impact. The main results of this study, conducted in 2018, are presented below.