Carbon sink reforestation projects : a community perspective from KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa.
Climate change has exacerbated environmental degradation processes, causing an imbalance in the natural concentrations in atmospheric greenhouse gases. This has resulted in a myriad of socio–economic effects which have focused global attention on methodologies to reduce these effects, such as carbon sequestration. To achieve long term sustainability and success, community involvement in the technical and social aspects of carbon sequestration projects is necessary and must be acknowledged. One such mitigation methodology which incorporates the ideals of community proactive participation is carbon sink reforestation projects. This study is based on a community perspective of a carbon sink reforestation project, carried out in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. The study provides a holistic perspective of the concept of carbon sequestration drawing together technical aspects of carbon sequestration reforestation projects and the inclusion of the role of communities. The methodology comprised of questionnaires with industry experts and a local community, following a thematic data analysis. The current perception from industry is that the South African government lacks significant technology, capacity and finance to effectively manage national forest carbon sequestration regimes. Project participants expressed the view that these types of projects provided a sense of belonging and hope and articulated their gratitude for the environmental knowledge they gained from the project experience. Technical and social aspects of such projects such as carbon calculations and participatory rural appraisal techniques enhance a country’s ability for successful implementation of such projects. Findings reveal a need for technology, capacity building and finance; and the effects participation in these projects has on individuals. This is followed by recommendations and a ‘How To Guide’ developed by the researcher. This guide intends to enhance the collaboration of the technical aspects and involvement of communities throughout the project implementation process. Carbon regimes in this century will continue to grow in size and complexity. Stakeholder participation will be a strong factor in the success or failure of carbon sequestration reforestation projects.