Ntakata Mountains Project – A natural climate solution financed by the voluntary carbon market that benefits both people and biodiversity.PATHFINDER AWARD 2021 WINNER

Carbon Tanzania
Published: 16 September 2021
Last edited: 06 February 2023
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The Ntakata Mountains Project is a natural climate solution that protects 216, 944ha of threatened, community owned forests. Using the REDD (Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation) monitoring framework and methodology for carbon accounting, eight forest communities keep 1,200,000 trees standing, avoiding 550,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions annually. The resulting carbon credits are certified by VERRA’s VCS and CCBA standard and sold on the international voluntary carbon market earning the communities US$581,650 since the project’s first issuance of credits in 2020. Securing indigenously managed forests is critical to climate mitigation and biodiversity conservation efforts.


East and South Africa
Scale of implementation
Forest ecosystems
Tropical deciduous forest
Access and benefit sharing
Biodiversity mainstreaming
Connectivity / transboundary conservation
Ecosystem services
Food security
Forest Management
Gender mainstreaming
Habitat fragmentation and degradation
Indigenous people
Land management
Protected and conserved areas governance
Protected and conserved areas management planning
Sustainable financing
Sustainable livelihoods
Traditional knowledge
Land and Forest degradation
Loss of Biodiversity
Conflicting uses / cumulative impacts
Ecosystem loss
Lack of access to long-term funding
Lack of alternative income opportunities
Lack of infrastructure
Poor monitoring and enforcement
Poor governance and participation
Unemployment / poverty
Sustainable development goals
SDG 1 – No poverty
SDG 2 – Zero hunger
SDG 3 – Good health and well-being
SDG 4 – Quality education
SDG 8 – Decent work and economic growth
SDG 9 – Industry, innovation and infrastructure
SDG 10 – Reduced inequalities
SDG 13 – Climate action
SDG 15 – Life on land
SDG 16 – Peace, justice and strong institutions
Aichi targets
Target 5: Habitat loss halved or reduced
Target 7: Sustainable agriculture, aquaculture and forestry
Target 11: Protected and conserved areas
Target 12: Reducing risk of extinction
Target 14: Ecosystem services
Target 15: Ecosystem restoration and resilience
Target 18: Traditional knowledge
Target 19: Sharing information and knowledge
Target 20: Mobilizing resources from all sources
Business engagement approach
Direct engagement with a company
(I)NDC Submission




Environmental Challenge:

Deforestation & land use change contributes to approx. one quarter of the world’s man-made greenhouse gas emissions while in Tanzania it contributes to approx. 70% of national GHGs. The key threat to the forest is shifting agriculture. In addition, grazing by pastoralists, mining, and the development of new infrastructure, negatively impact the forest, with consequences for water, livelihoods & conservation.

Social Challenge:

Undefined land use plans and boundaries were making it difficult for community members to defend and protect their forest leading to conflict.

Economic challenge:

There are few economic opportunities available in the Ntakata Mountains, the majority of which depend on healthy forest ecosystems. The people farm small family plots, harvest honey and wood. The REDD project creates an additional revenue stream that keeps the forest intact, enhancing the forests’ ability to provide essential ecosystem services.


8 communities totaling 36,000 people are engaged in the REDD project & are responsible for the daily operations - it is these people who are the beneficiaries of the environmental and economic outputs.

How do the building blocks interact?

The five building blocks are interlinked and must be implemented in the following order. 

1.Collaboration with landscape partners brings the necessary expertise to the project.

2. Legal contracts between resource owning communities and Carbon Tanzania form the basis of a long-term working relationship and solidifies the agreement of the partnership leading to the commencement of project development.

3. Project development begins with participatory land use management & the development of land use plans, which can only happen once relationships and contracts have been formed. Demarcating boundaries of the Village Land Forest Reserves helps to raise awareness of the project preventing conflict, which upholds contracts.

4. The development of a results-based payments for conservation using a REDD methodology can happen once the previous 3 steps have been undertaken. Following initial verification, certified carbon credits are issued.

5. Accessing the voluntary carbon market can only begin once the project has been certified. 


The project benefits 38,000 people who live in & depend on healthy forests to provide ecosystem services necessary for a farming lifestyle. The people have earned US$581,650.00 through protecting their community owned forests. This revenue empowers the communities to determine their own developmental needs. They receive the revenue bi-annually & as a community determine how to allocate the revenue - usually to the community health fund, to building infrastructure to improve educational opportunities, to fund the Village Game Scouts (VGS) and other forest protection activities, to develop economic opportunities and to fund other community development needs as they arise.

The carbon credits represent avoided emissions that would be released should the forests be cut down. The credits are sold on the voluntary carbon market to organisations who are offsetting their unavoidable emissions, further mitigating climate change.

The forests provide habitat for 12 endangered species including the largest population of Eastern Robust Chimpanzee. Through the VGS, the community are recording the location & age of chimp nests and submitting the data to the Greater Mahale Ecosystem Researchand Conservation Centre (GMERC) in a bid to further the understanding of chimpanzees across the global community.


Carbon Tanzania

Frank Kweka is a young man who grew up in a rural village in the Ntakata Mountains and developed a deep understanding of his environment while participating in the Jane Goodall Institute’s Roots & Shoots program. Throughout his early years and into early adulthood, he developed a growing awareness of the negative impact humans were having on the forests that surrounded him and decided to study conservation, earning a bachelor’s degree in environmental studies at the University of Dar es Salaam. Upon returning to the Ntakata Mountains he secured a short-term contract as the assistant at the Natural Resource Department at Tanganyika District Council for the Environment. When his contract ended, he continued to volunteer for multiple years to satisfy his passion while farming a small half acre plot to support his family. 


While volunteering, he witnessed a high turnover of people coming from Dar es Salaam and other urban areas to fill jobs in the environmental sector in the Ntakata Mountains. After a short time the visitors would leave having invested little into the area Frank had always called home.


When Carbon Tanzania identified the need to employ a Project Manager they were determined that the success of the project lay in having a community member fill this role. Frank’s experience and passion was quickly recognized, and he was recruited for the role in 2019. In the last 2 years Frank’s commitment to the project has been a driving force for its success with the Ntakata Mountains project now one of the most impactful and respected projects in the area. 


Frank’s experience and relationship with his previous employees in the District Office ensure the project runs both smoothly and effectively. 


Frank’s connection to his community runs deep, which enables him to see how the project can best serve the needs of all community members. Frank’s input has resulted in securing health insurance for over 36,000 members of his community, in revenue being spent equitably across the eight villages to develop educational resources and establishing initiatives such as the Community Conservation Bank (Cocoba), a microfinance initiative designed to teach women to open small, environmentally-friendly businesses. Frank’s guidance ensures the community members are empowered to determine their own developmental needs while developing a deeper understanding of the need for healthy intact forests.

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Sarah Borman Carbon Tanzania