When Jadora hired ecoPartners to develop their Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD+) project in the Orientale Province in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), the project had been in progress for 5-years trying to navigate the intricate standards supporting REDD+ projects. Through 5-years Jadora funded a suite of project activities to reduce deforestation designed to generate carbon credits to support implementation and management. Despite their dedication and hard work the project had been stalled during its initial validation due to a controversial methodological change by VCS and began to stretch the budget. Instead of closing down shop and cutting its losses, Jadora held on to the project and continued employing community members to implement agroforestry projects and biodiversity surveys until a new version of the methodology was approved. The only remaining hurdle was to gain approval from the Verified Carbon Standard (VCS) and Community, Climate, and Biodiversity (CCB) standard in order to generate carbon finance stemming from their early efforts. After years of operating on a shoestring budget and a few staff changes, ecoPartners was brought on to develop the cornerstone of the project – REDD+ finance.

As with many REDD+ project, Jadora had clearly built a team with accomplished conservationists, foresters, managers, and financial analysts but had limited experience in the niche, carbon world. From experience of developing and auditing 80 REDD+ projects, ecoPartners brought the knowledge of how to frame the Jadora’s model of conservation into argumentation and documentation for REDD+ standards. “We started by walking through all of the things Jadora was doing on the ground to change the trend of deforestation in the area. Their dedication was clear from the beginning, and we wanted to figure out how to tell the full story of everything they were doing—from halting deforestation to providing education and addressing the root causes of poverty in the area,” said Kyle Holland, the Managing Director of ecoPartners.

After completing a gap analysis and reviewing the daunting list of corrective action requests issued in the first validation, ecoPartners went to work developing monitoring and documentation systems and translating Jadora’s 5-years of work and experience into CCB and VCS terms. We first applied the Social and Biodiversity Impact Assessment (SBIA) framework to fully develop a theory of change model for project’s community and biodiversity impacts that helped Jadora think long-term about how the project will achieve meaningful impacts on the ground. From the theory of change document we then designed an implementation plan to bring Jadora’s model for conservation to life and steer the project’s management over time along with rigorous monitoring and documentation systems to comply CCB and VCS requirements. “ecoPartners really made us realize the importance of documenting everything that we do so we can triangulate the cause and effect of the impacts we hope to see over time from our efforts. Not only did it he
lp us achieve validation and verification under VCS but it helps us as an organization to know what is working and adaptively manage our projects,” said Don Tuttle, Founder and CEO of Jadora.

In addition to addressing CCB issues, ecoPartners provided technical forest accounting by conducting remote sensing, spatial modelling, and carbon stock analysis to provide an estimate of credit generation. A previous firm with little VCS and forestry experience used inaccurate methods that ultimately underestimated the credit generation and ecoPartners, through improved models, was able to boost credit generation by 50%.

To cap it all off, we also provided validation and verification assistance by conducting an internal audit against the VCS and CCB standards to anticipate potential gaps in conformance. Along with our internal auditwe worked with the Jadora staff members to ensure they were up to speed on new elements of the project, ensured that auditors remained within the scope of the audit, and managed all of the tedious edits and changes to the project’s documentation. “I don’t know where we would be without ecoPartners. We had the vision and they had the technical know-how that has allowed the Jadora Isangi REDD+ project to continue,” said Don Tuttle.

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