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Northern Kenya Grasslands Carbon Project Update


The Northern Kenya Grasslands Carbon Project is undergoing a review by Verra. We and our partners on the project welcome this review and believe it will reconfirm the quality and positive impact of the project. We are available to provide information to those interested in learning about the project, and we note that the results of this review will be made available upon its conclusion.

We, together with participating conservancies and The Northern Rangelands Trust (NRT), remain deeply committed to the project and its benefits.

The Project

The Northern Kenya Grasslands Project was developed to improve grassland health and sequester carbon in the soils of community rangelands in northern Kenya through traditional nomadic grazing alongside contemporary rangeland management practices. Communities design grazing plans, including practices such as rotational grazing, which allow perennial grasses to rest and recover, collecting and storing carbon from the atmosphere. Rotational grazing improves soil health, resulting in more plant cover and higher-quality pasture for livestock. More carbon is accumulated in the soil as plant cover increases, and root growth intensifies. By restoring approximately two million hectares of savannah grasslands in an increasingly arid region, the Northern Kenya Rangelands Project is planned to capture and store 50 million tonnes of carbon dioxide.

The project area includes 1.9 million hectares of savannah grassland located approximately 270 kilometers north of Nairobi, stretching from the northern slopes of Mount Kenya to Mount Marsabit in far northern Kenya.

Project success will ensure that both pastoralists and the local communities see a return on their combined efforts to improve their grasslands and increase their land’s ability to store carbon. The carbon funding is already helping diversify community income and is supporting specific conservancy needs, including clean water, education, and infrastructure projects.

Key Aspects

  • Grazing. Grazing plans are designed by communities using traditional forms of governance around historical migration routes and expected spatial patterns of forage availability and access to water. The project and grazing practices do not create barriers (such as fences) nor turn back herders at project boundaries. To do so could jeopardize pastoralists’ agency, show disrespect for their cultural norms, and increase risk of conflict in the project area and surrounding landscape.
  • Consent. A detailed and extensive FPIC process was followed, conducted in local languages, with wide community support. Communities have been engaged since the inception of the project. Methods of engagement range from education and support for grazing practices that preserve grasslands, to participation in informative carbon discussions and the signing of the agreements which have provided the permission for the sale of the credits and distribution of revenue.
  • Carbon. The project’s monitoring, reporting, and verification process includes numerous elements to quantify and qualify that the project activity is occurring and is sequestering carbon. This includes detailed monthly grazing reporting on grazing outcomes and livestock movements by qualified rangeland coordinators in each conservancy as well as a separate, supplementary remote sensing analysis that assesses the changes in green biomass due to grazing.
  • Incomes. The project is generating revenue for the participating conservancies. These funds are being used to build school facilities, drill and improve boreholes, disperse bursaries, and more. Information on the revenue sharing agreements and use of funds are available on a project information page hosted by the NRT
  • Conservancies. The project builds on the relationship that the conservancies have established with The Northern Rangelands Trust which have been reviewed by both the Kenyan National Government, Kenyan County Governments, and a recent independent report.

The Communities

Individuals and community groups in the project regions recently expressed their views on the project and its implementation, demonstrating widespread support. Outside organizations have also spoken and written about the Northern Kenya Grasslands Project.

Kenya, EU in support of carbon credit firm, published in The Nation, May 2023

Carbon project has transformed the lives of Isiolo communities, interview with Adan M., Chairman Leparua conservancy, in The Nomad Times, April 2023

Community defends carbon offset projects in northern Kenya, published in The Nation, April 2023 

A public letter from the Boran Conservancies, circulated April 2023

A public letter from the Biliqo Community, circulated April 2023

It all hinges on the herders, published in The Guardian, November 2022

Full Speech: President William Ruto launches African Carbon Markets initiative at COP27, transcript from COP27, November 2022

The Review

Verra, a non-profit standard setting body for projects in the voluntary carbon markets, has asked for more information as part of a quality review of the Northern Kenya Grasslands Project. During this process, the project has paused its issuance of carbon credits, but the important work being done on the ground by conservancy members is continuing. We understand this review follows comments submitted by an activist organization opposed to nature-based solutions to the climate crisis during the public comment period for the project’s second CCB verification in January 2023. These comments were followed by a report published by the same organization titled “Blood Carbon”. We feel strongly that the report is misguided, poorly researched and inaccurate in nearly all respects.  We strongly reject the claims the report makes against the Northern Kenya Grasslands Project, including inaccurate representations of grazing activities, partners’ consent, and carbon measurement.

During a review process, Verra reassesses a project’s adherence to Verified Carbon Standard (VCS) rules and the applied methodology. If Verra identifies any findings during the review, Verra requests that the validation and verification body (VVB) for the project provides a written response to those findings.

Verra is asking the third-party VVB that audited the Northern Kenya Grasslands Project’s most recent CCB verification for clarification and more information about how they assessed project compliance with certification standards. Native is actively supporting the VVB and Verra by providing information to address Verra’s questions, much of which is available in existing project documentation. 

Next Steps

We are confident in the data and documentation behind the project and are excited about its potential to improve grassland health and sequester carbon on a large scale. 

The project is validated under Verra’s Verified Carbon Standard and has undergone two verifications by two different independent, external auditors, with the most recent being December 2022. The project was awarded Triple Gold Status by the Climate, Community and Biodiversity Alliance for addressing climate change, supporting local communities and smallholders, and conserving biodiversity.

Verra will make the result of the review public when it is completed. More detailed information about Verra reviews, including any follow-up actions, can be found in the VCS Registration and Issuance Process, v4.3

Again, we welcome this review as we believe it will reconfirm the quality and positive impact of the Northern Kenya Grasslands Project.

Contact Us

If you are interested in learning more about this project, we invite you to contact our team.

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