Nature-based initiative of the year, EMEA: Carbon Tanzania

Social enterprise Carbon Tanzania generates forest-based carbon credits that earn revenue for Tanzania's indigenous resource-owners.

In Tanzania, the forested areas are home to some of the country's most marginalised people. The Hadza, Datooga and Maasai communities' lands are subject to exploitation by migrant farmers, Carbon Tanzania said.

By strengthening their land rights over naturally forested areas via Carbon Tanzania, indigenous communities can sustainably managing their forests while improving local livelihoods.

The company's three projects, which are certified by internationally recognised voluntary carbon standards such as Plan Vivo, protect more than 688,000 hectares of threatened forests in Tanzania with almost 1.7 million trees. They prevent over 857,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions each year – more than Belize's entire output.

Carbon Tanzania has reduced deforestation in one valley to almost zero, reduced poaching in another district by 93%, and protected chimp habitat in a mountainous area.

Its projects provide habitat for 16 endangered wildlife species including elephants, lions and leopards.

So far, $2.8 million has been earned by more than 113,000 indigenous partners. They receive the revenue generated by the sale of the carbon credits bi-annually and determine how to allocate the funds as a community. The revenue is usually allocated toward forest patrols, health and education, microloans for businesses, and regional governance.

Around 60% of the revenue from selling carbon credits goes to indigenous partners, while the remainder goes on making the projects viable.

Jo Anderson, director of finance at Carbon Tanzania, said: "They are equal partners in a business transaction, and that's how we work together. We found that powerful because it's something that many local communities have never really experienced.

"They're often treated as passive recipients of aid rather than being integrally involved in and rewarded for the conservation of their lands.

"We've structured the business with a much more inclusive model where people have genuine agency over their conservation efforts, and land rights are established."