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VENTURES AFRICA- Global tech giant, Microsoft Inc. has acquired a block of carbon credits from the Madagascan government to help protect one of the country’s pristine rainforest ecosystems – the Makira National park.
This investment makes Microsoft the first buyer of the Makira REDD+ (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation) conservation project which aims to curb deforestation on 320,000 hectares of land, preventing the release of 32.5 million metric tonnes of carbon into the atmosphere while teaching local communities about the benefits of sustainable farming.
Microsoft’s investment in the project is part of its commitment to operate as a “carbon neutral” company by curbing emissions where possible and offsetting its remaining emissions.
It is also in line with Microsoft’s commitment to reduce its environmental impact, support sustainable economic growth, improve health and education, and address societal challenges.
Rob Bernard, Microsoft’s chief environmental strategist, said, “The project’s important role in protecting a crucial area of biodiversity value also aligns with Microsoft’s own focus on using technology, information and research to develop new approaches and solutions to sustainability.”
The Makira forest, which provides clean water to over 250,000 people in the surrounding landscape covers about 400,000 hectares (over 1,500 square miles) is home to an estimated 1 percent of the world’s biodiversity, including 20 lemur species, hundreds of species of birds, and thousands of plant varieties, some unique to the location.
Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), an international charity headquartered in New York City, stated that the largest share – half of the proceeds – will go to support local communities in areas around Makira for education, health and other projects.
The head of global environmental sustainability strategy for Microsoft, Josh Henretig, also explained that “The local economy in this area is almost entirely based on agriculture, primarily from rice and other cash crops.
“This project is enabling households to adopt alternative techniques that replace destructive and unsustainable methods. These activities include adopting a System of Rice Intensification, which increases yields and is based mainly on improving water management.”
While expressing the Madagascan government’s excitement in pioneering the sales of carbon in Africa, , Secretary General of the Ministry of Environment and Forests said the
Secretary General of the Ministry of Environment and Forests, Pierre Manganirina Randrianarisoa hopes that other organisations will follow the lead of Microsoft, the Carbon Neutral Company, and Zoo Zurich in conserving Madagascar’s unique biodiversity through the sale of future carbon credits.