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Countries are undertaking efforts to strengthen their National Forest Monitoring Systems (NFMS) to generate high-integrity forest data that meet the technical requirements of new carbon standards (ART-TREES, VCS-JNR). High-integrity forest data will facilitate access to carbon finance and thereby enable countries to progress towards their climate change mitigation and sustainable development objectives. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) along with its partner, the Kenyan Forest Service (KFS) are implementing a project that seeks to improve Kenya’s forest data while respecting and facilitating Gender Equality and Social Inclusion (GESI).
Funded by the United Kingdom through its flagship UKPACT (UK Partnering for Accelerated Climate Transitions) programme, the Improving Measurement for Payments to Reduce Emissions and Strengthen Sinks (IMPRESS) Project is enabling the government of Kenya to understand how to access potential climate finance opportunities associated with the conservation of forest resources.
An essential element of Kenya’s improved forest data is the need to ensure GESI throughout the development and implementation of the project. The IMPRESS project recognizes the vital role women and other marginalized individuals (e.g., youth, the elderly, people with disabilities, ethnic minorities) play in the development of any monitoring system and have responded to this need by prioritizing participation from women and marginalized individuals in all capacity development activities. A key aspect facilitating GESI is the role of Forest Carbon Champions; identified and engaged through a competitive process, Forest Carbon Champions are early career female or marginalized individuals with a demonstrated interest in environmental issues in Kenya.
In total, fifteen Champions were selected and have taken part in all project activities, including capacity development interventions associated with collecting improved forest data. As early career volunteers, the Forest Carbon Champions have benefited from interacting with stakeholders in the forestry sector and from being part of the training and capacity development activities. The experience has been invaluable to the candidates and places them in an excellent position to pursue a career in forestry, wetlands, and natural resources management in Kenya.
“The IMPRESS project is a great opportunity to grow my knowledge and skills in mapping and remote sensing which aligns well with my career. Through IMPRESS, I also continue having a positive impact in the field of conservation,” says Grace Kimaru, a Forest Carbon Champion.
As Kenya pursues the finalization of its improved National Forest Monitoring System through the collection of high-integrity forest data which will be published on public web geoportals -- 20 of which have been deployed worldwide by the UN-REDD Programme -- to increase data transparency for the public and for (inter)national reporting mechanisms, MPRESS will continue to facilitate equitable development through the inclusion of Forest Carbon Champions, including women who are seeking a career in the forestry sector in Kenya. Ongoing skills development of all individuals involved in the facilitation of climate finance is key for sustainable development and management of forest resources. Empowering the next generation of women leaders in the forest sector will enable many benefits to Kenya and its environment.