Ahueni is a Swiss-based public limited company that enjoys non-profit status and is involved in the development of carbon credit projects. Weitblick GmbH is one of five international impact investors who initiated the Ahueni programme.
Ahueni’s strength springs from its ability to quickly raise funds in a highly unbureaucratic way. Ahueni’s mission is to be a co-participating partner in project development and, through this engagement, to provide high-quality carbon credits in accordance with UNFCCC standards to a growing network of selected carbon offset buyers. Essential core elements consist of a consideration of local community interests and a deep respect for the eco-system.
Keywords: environmental protection, CO2 certificates, development cooperation
- With pressure from the United Nations following the 2005 Kyoto Protocol and later the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement, countries and large companies are looking for ways to offset their negative carbon footprint by buying allowances in various carbon emission programmes.
- The Paris Agreement sets ambitious targets for the reduction of greenhouse gases – especially CO2 – to curb global warming. Great efforts are being made in many industries to reduce emissions and progress is being made in many areas, but it is simply impossible to reduce emissions to pre-industrial levels. Additional measures must be taken to sequester these gases from the air and convert them into solid form.
- Kenya is home to the famous Maasai Mara National Reserve, which attracts thousands of tourists every year as they come to admire nature, wildlife and the Maasai culture. On the northern border of the reserve, there are about 20 wildlife conservancies, home to the Maasai people, who also own this land. These communities are members of the Maasai Mara Wildlife Conservancies Association (MMWCA). This is where the first Ahueni project is located.
- To transfer more CO2 from the air into the soil, the biomass of green plants on earth can be increased, or new technologies can be developed to do the same. In many cases, technical progress in this field is still in its infancy, so it cannot be relied on to meet this challenge all by itself. The Paris Agreement motivates governments and industries to offset their emissions with carbon credits from projects that protect and increase green vegetation.
- In addition to technological progress, healthy and thriving grasslands and forests in particular are needed. Through photosynthesis and the natural cycle of regeneration and growth, green plants continuously extract CO2 from the air. By contrast, deforestation and agricultural tillage release CO2 into the air. Natural grazing patterns of wildlife are usually not detrimental to reducing CO2 emissions; on the contrary, this natural cycle promotes healthy soil. However, livestock that are allowed to completely graze the existing grass can quickly degrade an area. Droughts are another contributing factor.
- The challenge with regard to the Maasai Mara ecosystem is to protect what is left of old forests and find solutions where cattle can graze in a way that allows grass to recover and regain its strength. Cattle are the cornerstone of Maasai culture, and the practices of running a farm need to be developed with and by the Maasai to create a win-win situation. Healthier grass results in healthier cattle, after all. Fortunately, it is a normal way of life for the brave Maasai to safely herd and protect their cattle in the wild.
- Ahueni started as a small reforestation programme in Talek, Kenya in collaboration with Basecamp Explorer Foundation. It quickly grew into a carbon offset programme for the greater Maasai Mara region. From a project planting trees, it developed into a larger programme for the renaturation of an entire ecosystem, including the natural reforestation of forests, the regeneration of destroyed pastures and the prevention of deforestation.
- Ahueni takes a long-term view and sees carbon credits as a financial instrument that creates lasting benefits that benefit the environment globally and the community locally. Ahueni does not want its customers to buy an alibi for their ecological footprint, but sees their purchase as a contribution to holistic economic development.
- Supported financially and organisationally by Ahueni, the MMWCA is developing the One Mara Carbon Project to provide an additional source of income for Maasai communities, who today are largely dependent on income from tourism. The Project will follow a United Nations framework on land use and biodiversity enhancement.
- Ahueni is actively engaged and is the project leader in the One Mara Carbon Project. Additional projects where participation is possible are currently being evaluated.
- Direct results (output): improvement in grazing of land areas, reforestation of forest areas, protection of existing forest areas against deforestation, development of infrastructure (education, health, roads), job creation.
- Medium-term effects (outcome): increase in biodiversity, natural grazing and land use, maintenance and restoration of natural migration routes for wildlife, renaturation of fallow land.
- Long-term effects (impact): reduction of CO2 emissions, CO2 sequestration, education in the areas of ecology, agriculture and business management, promotion of health in the Maasai communities, especially of children.