The African Forest Forum (AFF) conducted a series of training workshops on Rapid Carbon Stock Appraisal (RCSA) for local communities, extension workers and civil society organizations in Africa in 2013. Between November and December, 2013, three training workshops were conducted in Ethiopia, Niger and Zambia where selected participants were taken through key elements of rapid carbon stock appraisal. This work was led by Prof. Mahamane Larwanou, Senior Programme Officer with AFF, in collaboration with the following resource people:

Dr. Charlemagne Ngeumbou, Programme Officer, (AFF)
Dr. Eliakimu Zahabu -Sokoine University of Agriculture (Tanzania);
Dr. Vincent Oeba-Kenya Forest Research Institute (Kenya)
Prof. Adjima Thiombiano- Université de Ouagadougou (Burkina Faso)
Prof. Ali Mahamane, University of Maradi, Niger

This was in addition to other people who made presentations at the workshops. The training is a contribution towards building a critical mass of forestry stakeholders in Africa with the capacity to understand and know how to work with carbon trade and markets. The overall objective of the workshops was to strengthen the capacities of participants on rapid appraisal of forest carbon stocks and to help/support local communities in this regard. Specifically, the workshops set out to familiarize participants with:

methods for carbon assessments (plot-level carbon measurement, spatial analysis of land-use cover, focus group discussions, and key informant interviews;
Some key aspects of  developing a carbon project;
carbon markets and trade.

The first workshop, attracted 25 participants, and was held at the Wondo Genet College of Forestry and Natural Resources of Hawassa University in Ethiopia on 11-14 November 2013; and focused on the following topics:

Basic data required for the measurement of forest carbon for the establishment of the Ethiopian MRV system;
Benefits associated with carbon projects in Ethiopia;
Lessons learnt from development of Project Idea Note (PIN) /Project Design Document (PDD) in Ethiopia;
Benefits of using participatory approaches on developing a carbon project;
Equitable benefit sharing between government and communities  and also among communities;
Challenges in using participatory approaches in developing a carbon project;
Lessons learnt from carbon markets and trade.

Also some Ph.D students from Wondo Genet College of Forestry received the training. The second workshop, held in collaboration with the School of Natural Resources at Copperbelt University in Kitwe, Zambia, attracted 18 participants drawn from Zambian Government departments – mainly foresters and extensions staff- research institutions and universities and non-governmental organizations (NGOs). It focused on the following key issues:

Principles and concepts of carbon trading;
Carbon trading processes and agreements;
Methodological issues on carbon trading and institutional and legal framework on carbon trade and marketing;
Life cycle of the carbon project from developing project idea note (PIN);
Project design document (PDD);
Concept of biomass, carbon stock, and carbon fluxes;
Approaches to forest carbon stock estimation under different carbon pools (above-ground biomass, below-ground biomass, dead wood, litter, Soil Organic Matter (SOM), harvested wood products);
Use of tree species specific allometric and generalized allometric equations for biomass estimation.

The final workshop, held at the Abdou Moumouni University, Niamey, Niger on 16-19 December, 2013, attracted 34 participants. It focused on:

Experience of carbon markets in Niger;
The Biocarbon project in Niger;
MRV experience in Niger;
Niger case study on allometric equations development for some tree species.

The workshop was conducted with theoretical presentations, exercises and field work. These included:

Development of PIN;
The MRV system;
Allometric equations (different types, conception, validation…)
Different stages of data collection and analysis using the Excel sheets;
Carbon markets and trade.

Participants attending the three workshops got an opportunity to apply what they had learned in the training during a field visit to local forests. Participants at the Ethiopia workshop visited Dodola forest, a community managed forest, where practical exercises on carbon measurement were conducted while those attending the Niger workshop visited Koure reserve area, 80 km East of Niamey. Those in Zambia did similar exercises in Chembe Bird Sanctuary, a miombo woodland area.
Some of the key observations that emerged from the training sessions are:

The workshops  are responding to an existing demand;
While the content for the various topics is good and well covered, the time for practical exercises  is inadequate  and needs to be addressed in future training sessions;
The training provides opportunities to practitioners to learn efficient ways for measuring carbon in forests and parklands;
There is need to  repeat this training to reach more practitioners;
Forestry educational and other training institutions will adopt the training  modules developed by AFF and used in the training sessions;
The training was an eye opener to most of the participants hence likely to have significant impact during the  initiation and implementation of carbon projects in their individual countries;
The information provided during the training well contribute to  planning, designing and implementation of national and regional REDD + strategies for sustainable use and conservation of the forest resources;
Some participants from some  countries were not aware of carbon projects currently generating carbon credits in their countries, hence need for more awareness and coordination of carbon issues within countries;
Participants selected were likely to be trainers of others and share the material covered in the training workshops with other colleagues who are implementing carbon projects.