Category Archives: Conservation

Keeping the Kasigau Wildlife Corridor Litter Free

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The Rukinga wildlife corridor is a pivotal crossing point for several different types of wildlife, from elephants to baboons. Unfortunately, it is located next to the A109, also known as the Mombasa Highway. Thousands of cars and commercial truck drivers pass through this area on their way from the coast to Nairobi. It isn’t uncommon to see someone chucking a plastic drink bottle out the window.

This practice has led to an area cluttered with colorful drink bottles and discarded tire rubber. The wildlife and domestic animals living in the animal are susceptible to ingesting these pieces of plastic and risk dying. Not to mention, how much of an eyesore it is for passers-by, an indication that littering is the norm.

Well, the young leaders at Voluntary Service Overseas (VSO) were tired of seeing this area filled with trash.

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How do you clean up and make an area litter free?

“Litter is a huge problem and it’s a problem along the whole highway, but the wildlife corridor has been deliberately kept clear of development to aid the movement of wildlife,” explained Alys Penfold, a VSO volunteers who organized the cleanup in collaboration with Wildlife Works. “We thought that if we cleaned up this one area, it would show the difference of what the area looks like without litter.”

On Saturday, April 1, 2017, a group of over 120 people showed up to help. Volunteers, community members, secondary students, rangers, and WW employees banded together to clean up the 2.3 km stretch of highway dubbed the wildlife corridor next to Rukinga Sanctuary.

“We thought that many people would not show up, but we had 120. We never expected that,” said Mercy Marigo, Hadithi Project Assistant. Hadithi works with women artisans to help empower them and sell their hand-made products to global markets. Alys was assigned to Hadithi as her project for her 3 month volunteer period. “It was our first project with the volunteers and we hope to organize with the community to clean up litter once a month from now on.”

Wildlife Works employees came to volunteer their time to help pick up trash and Wildlife Works Rangers handed out water and insured the safety of all participants working in close proximity to vehicle traffic. Each of the 3 participating secondary schools received organic-cotton shirts sewn and printed in the Wildlife Work’s eco-factory.

In 4 hours, the team collected over 250 garbage bags of trash from the area, removing plastic bottles, plastic bags, scraps, and other litter from this important conservation area. This amount of trash will be responsibly disposed of and recycled, beautifying the area and improving the lives of wildlife in the area.

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How to prevent littering in the future?

VSO held a community meeting to educate people of the dangers of plastic, how long it takes to break down in the environment, and it’s negative impact on wildlife and our planet. They also posted a large banner, urging drivers to keep the wildlife corridor free of litter.

“The idea was that you can’t put up a sign asking people not to litter, when there is litter, so the first thing we wanted to do was clean it up, so people can see the difference,” said Alys. “Then put up the sign to encourage people to keep the area that way.”

This event was the launch of the Taka Sitaka Taka campaign to help improve parts near the Wildlife Works project areas. In the future, the team plans on reaching out to truck companies to educate their drivers on the dangers of littering, bringing a recycling center to the town of Maungu, and spurring further clean ups along the highway.

While only a small portion of the trash found along the Mombasa Highway was collected on Saturday, we hope the message will become clear to passing drivers that litter along these roads will not be tolerated.

Offset Your Carbon Footprint with Wildlife Works

WHERE DOES THE MONEY GO?

Wildlife Works’ offset purchases go directly to protecting our 500,000 acre forest conservation project in Kenya and the thousands of elephants that migrate through the area. Without your carbon credit purchases, the forest would be destroyed and many of the elephants and other endangered wildlife in the area would be poached. Learn about our anti-elephant poaching program.

Before we started our forest carbon project in 2009, the Kasigau Corridor forest was being depleted by 2.5% every year. Almost 250,000 acres of forest would have been destroyed by 2029 without offset customers like yourself. Learn about Wildlife Works’ job-creation conservation strategy with REDD+ offset credits and our impact.

We are committed to saving our world’s trees because deforestation is responsible for 10% – 15% of all global warming emissions. If we can stop deforestation globally, it would result in 30% of the emissions reductions needed to maintain our global temperature increase below 2 degrees C.

offset my carbon footprint with Wildlife Works

HOW DOES CLIMATE CHANGE AFFECT ME?

Destroying trees releases gases into our environment which traps the sun’s heat and greatly hampers Earth’s ability to stabilize our climate. The effect of climate disruption comes in the form of unpredictable and extreme weather patterns such as hurricanes, droughts, and floods in all parts of the world, creating resource shortages.

In developed countries, this causes a growing list of increased costs of living expenses including:
– higher food, energy, and water costs
– increased home insurance premiums
– threats to housing which stresses city public works’ services
– increased health risks like allergies

Check out this interactive article on how climate change impacts different parts of the world.

In poorer countries, the effects are catastrophic and unrecoverable. Communities are being displaced, livelihoods are destroyed and more people die of hunger.

how does climate change affect me

WHAT CAN I DO?

Climate change is an overwhelming issue and our dependency on the urban way of life makes it difficult to reduce our energy consumption to a minimum.

Offsetting your carbon footprint to provide the financial support necessary to stop deforestation is the most direct and sizable impact you can make to combat climate change.

For an individual living in the U.S., the cost of offsetting one year’s carbon footprint is just $180. With Wildlife Works offset credits, you can be assured that all the money goes directly to running our conservation project without any middleman brokers.

You can do this one thing and make a direct impact right now. OFFSET YOUR CARBON FOOT PRINT

Next, in addition to reducing your day-to-day energy consumption, you can put your money where your values are. Buy from socially and environmentally responsible businesses and demand more transparency from others. We only have one Mother Earth, let’s keep her thriving for the next generation and those to come!

offset my carbon footprint with Wildlife Works

Injured Elephant Gets Treated

On Jan 28, 2017, Keith, our anti-poaching pilot went on a morning aerial patrol flight, after a tip off there was potentially a charcoal camp on northern Taita ranch, Kenya.  At about 7:30am we spotted a lone bull in the thickets below us, it had a very large cyst on its right side, just above its back leg.  

Keith then messaged the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, who brought KWS vet Dr. Poghon by road from Voi.

With the gyrocopter keeping visual on the injured elephants location, the ground team attempted to get close enough to the elephant to tranquilize it.

The thick bush made it impossible for the ground team to even get a clear sighting of the bull, so the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust sent a chopper to collect the vet on the ground and get a clear shot with the tranquilizer gun.

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The vet operated on the cyst, concluding it was an arrow that had caused this poor animal all this pain and stress.  The elephant was treated, and put back on his feet with a clean bill of health.  

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This goes to show how important aerial patrols are for elephant protection. A big thank you to all the hard working men and women of Wildlife Works, David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust and Kenya Wildlife Service.  

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Baby Elephant Rescue

On November 2, 2016, our ground team received a call from a goat herdsman that a 5-year old elephant was roaming close to her farm alone for hours.

Our Rangers immediately reported to the scene and called @dswt to arrange airlift transport to their Nairobi orphanage in a few hours time. Meanwhile, the rangers kept close eye on the baby girl elephant by keeping down wind and out of site as not to frighten her away.

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When it came time to prepare her for the transport, it took a team of 12 to secure her down as she struggled with fear of her capturers. After treating some minor wounds, we successfully lifted her onto the plane.

Head ranger Eric explained that this baby elephant most likely got lost from her herd as opposed to being orphaned from a dead mother because of where she was found. Her herd probably ran quickly from human clamor to scare them off and the baby was left behind. 😥 Our air patrol confirmed that no herd was nearby anymore. It was highly unlikely that she would be reunited.

We are happy that we were able save this little girl’s life. 🐘❤️Thank you David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust for giving her a second chance!

A Message for 2017 from Our Founder Mike Korchinsky

January 18, 2017 – This week, America will pass the baton of power over to a new administration. I think it is fair to say that regardless of the eventual outcome of Donald Trump’s time in office, the history of remarks that he and some of his closest advisors have made in the past are genuine cause for concern within the international climate community.

However, it is also now clear that the rest of the world will not have their resolve to tackle climate change weakened in any way whether or not the US continues to participate in a leadership role on this critically important issue.

Here at Wildlife Works, we are accustomed to overcoming challenges in the work we do, as most societies have a long history of valuing the destruction of forests for “economic gain”. We are amongst a very small but growing vanguard who are beginning to prove the case for forests being more valuable alive than dead.

As a result we tend to wait until challenges become real before worrying too much about how we will overcome them. I see the election of Donald Trump no differently. We must wait and see what specific challenges his election poses to our work, and then rally our colleagues, partners and supporters to overcome those challenges, just as we have overcome so many challenges before.

His election does nothing to weaken our resolve, nor our belief that our work is of critical importance to the future of forests, wildlife, and rural communities.

Furthermore, I do believe that the truth will prevail. Because of the now increasingly widely understood role of forests in mitigating the worst impacts of climate change, our work will continue to be acknowledged to be of great importance to everyone including Donald Trump. So please join me in celebrating the recent progress we have made highlighted in this newsletter, and look forward to many more newsletters to come.

Thank you!

Mike Korchinsky

wildlife works founder mike korchinsky

Moses – Head of Data Collection for our rangers

Moses Lorewa is Head of Data Collection as part of the 85 Wildlife Works rangers that patrol our Kasigau Corridor REDD+ project in southeastern Kenya.

He is the eldest child in a pastoral family of seven children, from central Kenya. Upon finishing school in 2004, Moses worked in construction for a few years to make ends meet but knew this wasn’t his calling. He first came to the Tsavo ecosystem in 2007 to work as a scout for Southern Cross Eco Safaris who ran Gala Rock Camp, an old lodge within the Wildlife Works project area. Although Moses didn’t have any experience of working in the bush, he had grown up surrounded by livestock so he had the mind for working with animals.

screen-shot-2016-10-10-at-1-32-39-pmMeet Moses!

Through his job at Gala, Moses gained extensive knowledge of the land and wildlife within the Wildlife Works project area, and even worked alongside some of our rangers, as he used to be part of the anti-poaching patrolling team. A few years later, in 2010, Wildlife Works was expanding our ranger team – Moses jumped at the opportunity.

Today, Moses is Head of Data Collection for the ranger team. Within each of our seven ranger camps across the project area, one ranger is responsible for collecting data every day on the wildlife, the land and any incidents within their designated zone. It is Moses job to collect and collate all the data at the end of every month and pass along the information to the Wildlife Works Biodiversity Team. This data includes information such as elephants, lions or birds seen, poaching snares found, or incidences of deforestation for charcoal production.

screen-shot-2016-10-10-at-1-33-08-pmHere is Moses on the job, helping out at a community event

Moses says one of his favorite parts of his job is working together with the community, although this is also one of the most challenging aspects. He says that getting to the level of understanding about the importance of animals and trees and how to benefit from them takes a long time. An essential element of being a Wildlife Works ranger is to create awareness within local communities, but not create animosity. Moses comments that, “it’s challenging to create awareness and also sympathize about why people need to poach or produce charcoal. These people might be my neighbors and could go behind my back.”

It is thanks to the hard work of our rangers like Moses that Wildlife Works is able to protect the forests and wildlife of our project area.

Moses was one of the rangers present on the fateful date that our team was attacked by armed poachers. When we sat down to speak with him about his role at Wildlife Works, Moses recounted his memory of the incident which he had actually just written about in his personal diary.

Nearly five years ago, poachers opened fire on our unarmed conservation rangers who were patrolling Rucking Wildlife Sanctuary killing one and critically injuring another.

Moses recalls, “it was a time when poaching was really high, and Somalis were killing lots of elephants here. My team was out in the bush and we came across two footprints in the dirt, and tracked them from morning till 4 pm. We were really tired so stopped to take a break.”

Moses said things happened very quickly. “We heard gunshots. I found myself on the ground. Are we shot, I thought? I was really confused.” The Wildlife Works ranger team had tracked the poachers so well that they’d come across them very unexpectedly and they’d opened fire.

Luckily, our team had Kenya Wildlife Service rangers with them at the time – they are armed and authorised to shoot in situations like this – who fired at the poachers to scare them away. 

Two of our men were shot that day; Moses was the third man in line, so feels like he was saved. He said this experience, very early on in his time at Wildlife Works, made him emotionally invested in his job here. “Working with armed poachers needs a lot of courage.”

Since this incident, Wildlife Works has reviewed and revised how our rangers track poachers, ensuring that the safety of our men and women is put first. It it due to their heroic commitment that we are able to keep the wildlife safe from the threats of poaching. 

Read more about this incident here. 

Agriculture Mentor Program for Local Community Groups

Wildlife Works runs an organic greenhouse on-site at our Kasigau Corridor REDD+ Project in Kenya. Here, we raise indigenous tree seedlings that we donate to the community to help reforestation efforts as well as test growing techniques for local growing conditions. One of our main objectives is to run tours and training for anyone who wants to learn alternative methods for growing in the semi-arid, drought conditions of the Tsavo region.

Some of the best practice growing methods we teach include water conservation through techniques such as vertical farming (where water trickles vertically down a pod watering more plants rather than draining away into the soil) and introducing people to crops that grow suitably in the local soil and with minimal water. Through this training, we hope to encourage activities that reduce reliance on traditional slash and burn agriculture and assist with water conservation.

In the past year, Wildlife Works has expanded this agriculture mentoring work into supporting several local women’s groups in setting up their own greenhouses within surrounding communities. Two new community greenhouses are now up and running in the villages of Marungu and Bungule where women are growing tomatoes, spinach, beans and more to sell. Wildlife Works’ role was in managing arrangements with suppliers, advising on crop planning and best practice, providing labor for and supervising the building process, nurturing seedlings for planting, and, in the Bungule village case, securing funding.

greeenhouseGeorge Thumbi, Wildlife Works Greenhouse Manager, helps install irrigation

greenhouseWildlife Works employee connects a water barrel on site

greenhouseCompleted greenhouse in the village of Bungule

greenhouseGeorge advising local women on best practice growing techniques

This work is part of Wildlife Works’ efforts to increase the capacity of local communities for self-sufficiency and get them away from depleting the forest.

 

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About Wildlife Works Carbon

Wildlife Works is the world’s leading REDD+ (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation), project development and management company with an effective approach to applying innovative market based solutions to the conservation of biodiversity. REDD+ was originated by the United Nations (UN) to help stop the destruction of the world’s forests.

Over a 15 year history Wildlife Works established a successful model that uses the emerging marketplace for REDD+ Carbon Offsets to protect threatened forests, wildlife, and communities.

The company helps local landowners in the developing world monetize their forest and biodiversity assets whether they are governments, communities, ownership groups, or private individuals.

Wildlife Works Head Ranger Eric Sagwe

Eric Sagwe grew up in a town within our Kasigau Corridor project in Kenya called Maungu. As a teenager, he used to see the Wildlife Works rangers working in the community and out in the bush. Their commitment to protecting and being surrounded by wildlife and forests impressed young Eric and he began to dream of one day also wearing the Wildlife Works uniform.

wildlife ranger, kenya, Tsavo East National Park, anti-poachingHead Ranger Eric has been with Wildlife Works over 10 years.

With hard work, discipline and his late father’s urging, Eric made his dream come true. Today, Eric proudly holds the position of Head Ranger, leading a team of 120 at Wildlife Works Kenya. It took him 10 years to work his way up through the ranks after initially being hired as a watchman.

Having interviewed for a ranger position at Wildlife Works, Eric was disappointed to be offered a job as a watchman for the buildings around the office. It was under the advice of his father, a Kenyan police officer, – “don’t be choosey about what you want to do, what matters is how you do it” – that Eric accepted this first position.

True to his father’s counsel, Eric worked hard and after only four months of being a watchman he was called for another interview and offered his first ranger job. He was finally able to work in and patrol the bush, still the favorite part of his job.

Since then Eric has dedicated himself to protecting the 500,000 acres of the Kasigau Corridor REDD+ project. He is constantly pushing for progress like offering to operate the first security cameras and setting up a communication center to coordinate and disseminate information from all the field rangers.

kenya, wildlife rangerEric and some of his rangers [photo by Peter Z. Jones]

Eric manages a robust, effective program. His ranger patrols are strengthened by armed Kenyan Wildlife Service rangers who provide protection against armed poachers. There is enhanced close cooperation with the local community including a network of informants. He also organizes specialty training programs for his team such as first aid and drill practices.

kenya, wildlife rangerWildlife Works Rangers on a mission

Eric has lead many successful anti-poaching missions in the last few years, which have resulted in several arrests, including one where he and his rangers tracked a poacher for 23 km! Incidents of wildlife poaching have gone down significantly over Wildlife Works lifespan and there are signs that the main perpetrators of elephant poaching in the area have been apprehended. Also, the patrolling ranger teams have been systematically removing wire snares from the bush and now go weeks, sometimes a month, without coming across any. Just the other week they rescued a young buffalo that was trapped in a snare.

Eric is a commanding force (it helps that he is about 6.5 feet tall!) who cares deeply about the environment and wildlife in Kasigau. Watch Eric tell his story himself:

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Wildlife Works – Eric, Head Ranger. Rukinga Sanctuary from Wildlife Works on Vimeo.

Changing Kenya’s Landscape for Wildlife and Jobseekers

Changing Kenya’s Landscape for Wildlife and Jobseekers

Published in the The Opinion Pages on NY Times

By Amy Yee

JUNE 8, 2016 RUKINGA SANCTUARY, Kenya — Twenty years ago, this wildlife corridor in southern Kenya was in jeopardy. A scarcity of jobs in this impoverished, arid landscape meant people were hunting wild giraffe and antelope for meat, and chopping down trees to make charcoal. With fewer trees, desertification loomed. Water was so precious that local cattle herders lit fires at water holes to keep giraffes and zebras from drinking.

The animals had less vegetation to eat and less forest cover. Cutting down trees combined with poaching decimated wildlife in this 500,000-acre swath of the Kasigau migration corridor, which bisects Tsavo, Kenya’s largest national park. Tsavo, roughly the size of Wales, is home to half the country’s estimated 25,000 elephants.

Mercy Ngaruiya, known as Mama Mercy, is a community leader in the village of Itinyi. “People used to come with buckets of meat,” she said. “Everyone was killing animals. People were cutting trees for charcoal. They said, ‘What else are we going to do for money?’”

Against the odds, things have changed. Illegal tree cutting and poaching have fallen significantly. Previously, rangers from Wildlife Works, the local conservation group that initiated the shift, would find 8,000 wire snares in a year. Last year they found fewer than 300.

In 1998 there were no elephants on the 75,000 acres of Rukinga Sanctuary where Wildlife Works is based, said Rob Dodson, vice president of African operations. Now wildlife has returned. One recent evening, a herd of elephants, including babies, gathered at a water hole during a tranquil sunset. As many as 2,000 elephants live in the corridor, depending on the season; so do zebra, giraffe, buffalo, warthogs and several kinds of antelope, from slender dik-diks to impala. Lions had vanished from the area; now there are about 40, including two males seen lounging by a water hole on a hot Friday afternoon.

Illegal activities haven’t been wiped out. In January, seven elephants were poached for ivory. Every week rangers catch people burning trees to produce charcoal. But forest and wildlife in the Kasigau Corridor have been visibly revitalized by conservation efforts. And poaching has dropped. In the last few years, Wildlife Works hired more unarmed local rangers to supplement the Kenyan Wildlife Service, and in 2014 Kenya toughened its poaching laws. Seventy-six elephants were killed for ivory in the area in 2012, in contrast to 21 last year.

The key to preserving wildlife here is human relationships. Impoverished locals need alternatives to poaching and burning. So Wildlife Works has created hundreds of new jobs, including increasing the number of its rangers sevenfold to 85 in the past few years. (Many are former charcoal burners and poachers themselves.) Critically, this expansion won support for conservation from local elders and villagers, and the organization is now their county’s third-largest employer.

This community development work got a much-needed financial lifeline when Wildlife Works started the world’s first REDD+ project in 2011. REDD+, which stands for “reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation,” is an international system to combat climate change by preserving forests. It essentially pays communities in poor countries not to cut down trees.

Three United Nations agencies laid the groundwork for REDD+ in 2008. Gas-guzzling cars are commonly associated with global warming. But deforestation — cutting down trees and releasing the carbon stored in them — contributes 17 percent of the world’s greenhouse gases, more than the global transportation industry.

Preserving this swath of forest in the Kasigau Corridor avoids emitting more than 1.2 million tons of carbon dioxide per year for the next 30 years.

Since 2011, Wildlife Works has sold carbon credits and earned millions of dollars shared by landowners, investors, Wildlife Works and the local community. Money for the community finances schools, scholarships, water pipes, reservoirs and other public works that serve 150,000 people. The support was critical for getting the local community to support conservation.

“Now if someone cuts down trees or kills animals, people will report them,” said Mama Mercy.

REDD+ was controversial when it introduced nearly a decade ago. Critics feared fraud, and that the developed world would use carbon credits as an excuse to keep burning fossil fuels instead of curbing them. Supporters said poor countries needed financial incentives to preserve forests rather than cutting them down for fuel, farming and grazing.

At first, locals were also skeptical. Mama Mercy recalled that when people first heard about REDD+ they said, “‘How do we get money from trees? The air? These people are cheating us.’ It was really complicated.”

Educating locals about REDD+ and getting them on board was essential, because REDD+ uses international social auditors to enforce a requirement for informed consent from communities.

From 2009 to 2011, Wildlife Works’ team of local Kenyans met with about 60 elders, chiefs and heads of community councils to explain how the complex project works.

“They thought people were coming to get their land,” said Pascal Kizaka, a retired local chief. “We had to go and talk to them and preach. It took a year and a half to make the people understand.”

Although several tribes live in the area, Swahili is commonly spoken, so language was not a hurdle. Local leaders eventually gave consent to sell carbon credits on behalf of the community.

“People were so desperate,” said Dodson, of Wildife Works. “They had nothing to lose. They said, ‘It sounds mad, but let’s give it a go.’”

The forest was assessed by teams that measured trees in 480 sample plots across Kasigau Corridor. Independent environmental consultants from the United States used analytical software involving 60 algorithms to determine the amount of carbon in the forest.

Results were verified by the environmental audit firms Verified Carbon Standard and Climate, Community and Biodiversity Alliance, both based in Washington. The latter’s social audit includes weeks of meeting with local councils and questioning them independently.

nytimes, amy yee, redd, redd+, climate change, wildlife conservation, forestry conservation

In the early days, critics feared that “carbon credit cowboys” would displace or exploit locals and pocket profits. But setting up and verifying REDD+ is too complicated, expensive and stringent for speculators to make easy money. Rolling out REDD+ cost Wildlife Works about $4 million, each audit costs about $70,000, and verification requires evidence that REDD+ has benefited the community and environment.

The biggest pitfall is managing a multiparty project and building consensus among many community councils. “It’s easy to fail an audit. Getting back on your feet if a project fails is tough,” said Dodson. “Organizationally, it is fraught with danger.”

When Wildlife Works’ REDD+ project was verified, credits were sold on Markit, a London-based financial trading platform. The companies and other organizations that have purchased credits to offset their carbon emissions or fulfill corporate social responsibility policies have included Barclays, BNP Paribas, Allianz, the French postal service La Poste, and Kering, the holding company for Gucci, Saint Laurent and other luxury brands.

Wildlife Works sold $3 million worth of carbon credits in 2012, $2.5 million worth in 2013, and more than $5 million in 2014.

Carbon credit revenues are divided up with one-third going to landowners, roughly another third to Wildlife Works’ projects in Kenya, and the rest divided among the community and Wildlife Works in the United States, including its investors.

Community councils most commonly decide to use their shares for clean water projects or schools.

“People used to go long distances to get water, six kilometers or more,” said 24-year-old Zahira Kastoka, who grew up in Itinyi. Now there are water storage tanks near her home.

“REDD has changed things in so many ways,” she said. Kastoka got a high school scholarship through Wildlife Works, where she now works as an office administrator. Without the grant, her single mother could not have afforded school fees; Kastoka’s older sister had to drop out after fourth grade.

In 1998, few local youths were enrolled in college or in other tertiary institutions; now hundreds are. Over the years, more than 3,200 students have been awarded some $260,000 in high school and higher education scholarships.

For example, Mwolo Muasa, who grew up near Wildlife Works, had to drop out of school after his mother died when he was 10. But a few years later, he got a Wildlife Works scholarship, without which, he says, “I would have ended up a street kid.” Now 29, he helps lead Wildlife Works’ forest plot sampling, having studied environmental science at Kenyatta University in Nairobi.

Carbon credits have also financed precious new jobs. Before REDD, Wildlife Works had 65 employees in 2010. Now it has more than 300 who work in a small garment workshop, greenhouse and tourist lodge and as rangers, mechanics and office staff members. Before carbon credits there were 12 rangers hired from local villages; now the 85-strong force patrols a much larger area.

Wildlife Works was founded in 1997 by Mike Korchinsky, a California-based entrepreneur. While on vacation to Kenya that year, he noticed armed guards aggressively separating wildlife and local people. To create jobs and support the community, he established Rukinga Sanctuary and set up a tourist lodge and clothing workshop with a few employees. Keeping the businesses afloat was difficult.

In 2009, Korchinsky read a magazine article about REDD+ and wondered if Wildlife Works could sell carbon credits. At the time, there was no method with which to measure the carbon in Kasigau’s shrubby drylands forest. So Wildlife Works hired independent environmental consultants to design one.

One challenge today is planning for the future and managing expectations if carbon credit sales slump. In 2015, sales of Wildlife Works’ carbon credits fell to about half that of the previous year. Hesitant buyers were awaiting the outcome of the United Nations’ climate change summit meeting in December.

As a result, there were fewer scholarships. “Some people had to drop out of school,” said Mama Mercy. “Some girls married early. Parents want to educate children but there’s no work.”

“Last year was difficult,” she continued. “We hope this year won’t be the same.”

REDD+ agreements span only 30 years, so it’s uncertain what will happen when the contract expires. Dodson hopes that by then there will be enough economic development and jobs to sustain the community and preserve the forest and wildlife.

Ivo Mulder, the REDD+ green economy adviser for the United Nations Environment Program, said large-scale national initiatives that span entire counties or provinces and better control deforestation are a model for the future.

Worldwide, there are many REDD+ projects. However, the carbon credit market is limited and there are not enough buyers driven by corporate social responsibility. An oversupply of voluntary credits “reduces prices and makes it difficult to make REDD+ projects financially viable,” said Mulder.

Selling carbon credits from large government-backed REDD+ projects to other governments can make a bigger dent in combating global deforestation, though they are complicated to set up.

Nevertheless, the market for carbon credits could grow after 2020, when countries that signed the climate agreement in Paris last December must start reducing emissions. That pact recognizes REDD+ as one way to do that.

Back on the ground in the Kasigau Corridor, this environmental framework has already changed the landscape for flora, fauna and humans alike.

Kizaka, the retired local chief, recalled that big trees sheltering wildlife and cattle were being destroyed every day for charcoal. But now, he said: “If we show you photos before the carbon project and the present situation, the vegetation has changed. It has blossomed.”

From beneath the acacias in the Kenyan bush, one can still see the forest for the trees.

Amy Yee (@amyyeewrites), is a former correspondent for The Financial Times who has written for The New York Times, The Economist, The Wall Street Journal and NPR.

© 2016 The New York Times Company

World Environment Day Celebrations: Go Wild for Life

Happy World Environment Day! Each year this United Nations day is celebrated on 5th June to raise awareness on taking action to protect nature. The 2016 theme was ‘Go Wild for Life’ promoting zero tolerance for the illegal wildlife trade.

World Environment Day parade in Taita Taveta CountyWorld Environment Day parade in Taita Taveta County

Wildlife Works took part in the celebrations in Taita Taveta County in Kenya, where the 2016 theme particularly resonates. Kenya’s wildlife is severely affected by the illegal wildlife trade. It is estimated that each year around 30,000 elephants are killed worldwide as a result of poaching and the illegal ivory trade. Grevy’s Zebra, which are found on our Rukinga Sanctuary in Kenya, are endangered with only around 2,000 remaining in the wild. It is thought that at current poaching rates elephants, rhinos and other iconic African wildlife may be gone within our lifetime.

500 local primary and secondary students participate in a roadside litter pick
world environment day, Kenyaworld environment day, Kenya
world environmental day, KenyaGeorge Thumbi, Wildlife Works employee, links arms with students in the World Environment Day parade

The World Environment Day celebration in Kenya included a roadside litter pick and parade by 500 local primary and secondary school students, tree planting and speeches by notable figures from local government, Kenya Wildlife Service, Kenya Forestry Service, World Vision and Wildlife Works. The day centered on urging young people to take action and ownership of their wildlife heritage. George Thumbi, Wildlife Works Greenhouse Manager, spoke about our efforts to prevent poaching and protect habitat in the area.

world environment day, KenyaGeorge Thumbi, Wildlife Works employee, speaks about Wildlife Works efforts to prevent poaching and protect habitat

Arika Michael, Assistant County Commissioner, said, “children are agents of change. It is critical that we instill environmental conservation in young minds. Our wildlife is our heritage.”

If you would like to take action to commemorate the 2016 World Environment Day, offset your carbon through Wildlife Works. You can be a part of the solution by protecting threatened forests and the wildlife that call them home… Help them go wild for life!

Assistant Director of Kenya Wildlife Service planting a tree seedlingAssistant Director of Kenya Wildlife Service planting a tree seedling

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About Wildlife Works Carbon

Wildlife Works is the world’s leading REDD+ (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation), project development and management company with an effective approach to applying innovative market based solutions to the conservation of biodiversity. REDD+ was originated by the United Nations (UN) to help stop the destruction of the world’s forests.

Over a 15 year history Wildlife Works established a successful model that uses the emerging marketplace for REDD+ Carbon Offsets to protect threatened forests, wildlife, and communities.

The company helps local landowners in the developing world monetize their forest and biodiversity assets whether they are governments, communities, ownership groups, or private individuals.

WHAT IS WILDLIFE WORKS?

Protecting + Forests + Wildlife + Community since 1997.

Wildlife Works is the world's leading REDD+ (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation), project development and management company with an effective approach to applying innovative market based solutions to the conservation of biodiversity. REDD+ was originated by the United Nations (UN) to help stop the destruction of the world's forests.