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World Bank Helps Moldova Restore Degraded Lands and Earn Carbon Credits

World Bank Helps Moldova Restore Degraded Lands and Earn Carbon Credits

The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) announced the issuance of the first carbon credits generated by the Moldova Soil Conservation Project, purchased by the World Bank’s BioCarbon Fund.

The issuance is for 851,911 temporary Certified Emission Reductions (tCERs), which is the largest issuance of carbon credits from a reforestation project in the Emerging Europe and Central Asia countries. This was only the second land use and land-use change project to be registered with the UNFCCC, and the first to issue carbon credits in Moldova. It is an excellent example of how cooperation between a number of forestry actors in a large-scale project can make a difference – involving actors such as the Moldova Forestry Agency Modsilva, the Forestry Research and Management Institute, private forestry partners, local communities, and the World Bank.
“We are strongly committed to supporting Moldova’s efforts to increase forest cover, address soil degradation and reduce greenhouse gas emissions”, said Qimiao Fan, Country Director for Ukraine, Belarus and Moldova. “The project is having an impact at the local level by improving land management practices and generating income from carbon sequestration which has already been reinvested in a second reforestation project, setting an excellent example for replication”.

For decades, Moldova experienced creeping desertification due to the lack of investment in and restoration of degraded lands. Over 900,000 hectares of land are unfit for agricultural use, ravaged by soil erosion and landslides, at a significant cost in lost agriculture production. Since 2003, a World Bank-supported project has achieved restoration of over 20,300 hectares of these severely degraded lands by planting trees and improving the quality of the earth. The soil is increasing its storage of carbon dioxide as the project minimizes water and wind erosion, leading to improved soil fertility. Farmers like Tudor Corlateanu are seeing a higher milk production of his cows as a result of better feed.

”The best thing about the program is that I don’t have to search for fodder for my cows all over the fields anymore. The alfalfa crop has doubled my cows’ milk”, said Mr. Corlateanu.

In addition to increasing the country’s forest cover, replenishing the carbon stock of degraded lands and reducing greenhouse gas emissions, for which the project is earning carbon credits, the project is also a source of employment as well as of forest products and services. These include fuel wood as a result of pruning trees, medicinal plants, honey from beekeeping and the restoration of habitats for endangered species. With carbon finance, Moldsilva has access to a revenue stream that helps finance the reforestation of degraded lands, putting in motion a positive cycle that generates income for local communities.

”The Soil Conservation Project has been first and foremost an example for local communities on how to extract the added value from adequately managing their lands, whilst protecting the environment”, said Dumitru Galupa, Head of the Project Implementation Unit and Director of the Forestry Research and Management Institute. “Some communities are already replicating land-management practices established by the project with their own resources, and are generating tangible benefits for local farmers and members of the community”.

What is perhaps most unique about this project is its nation-wide extent.
“At less than 10%, Moldova’s forest cover has historically been extremely low, leading to severe soil degradation and erosion. Intervening at a national scale, with the reforestation effort spanning the entire country, has visibly altered Moldova’s landscape”, said Franka Braun, Carbon Finance Specialist at the World Bank.

Afforestation/Reforestation (A/R) CDM projects can only issue credits once per commitment period, and many are therefore waiting toward the end of the Kyoto Protocol’s first commitment period to maximize the number of credits issued. While this is the first forestry project in Moldova, many others elsewhere in the world are currently undergoing verification.


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