A report titled, “REDD: A Collection of Conflicts, Contradictions and Lies,” alleged that the Kikonda carbon tree plantation project in Uganda has a high level of conflict with the local communities. In particular it is alleged that the project developer has been using local law enforcement to impose fines, arbitrarily arrest people, confiscate cattle entering the reserve, and deny access to water tanks that were constructed for use by the communities. In addition, it is alleged that there is widespread corruption among forest rangers employed by the project developer.
In response to the allegations made against the project and the subsequent grievance raised, Gold Standard, in line with its Grievance Procedure, commissioned Climate Focus, an independent expert consultant, to lead a review of the issues, including land title issues, use of violence on project land, and use of chemicals that had adverse effect on local livestock. Climate Focus’ review was overseen by the independent Gold Standard Technical Advisory Committee.
Based on the results of this review, Gold Standard required a number of further actions to be taken by the project and assessments to be carried out during the next on-site audit, including remediation for infractions and training for local staff, ongoing resolution of any land title disputes, and minimisation and monitoring of chemical usage. The on-site audit was conducted by EPIC, an independent and accredited audit firm that had not had any previous involvement in the project or its audits. The audit was then further reviewed by Gold Standard and its independent Technical Advisory Committee. During this review process, a number of follow-up actions were outlined to ensure conformity to Gold Standard Requirements. These included the creation of and adherence too Standard Operating Procedures for staff recruitment and training, the tracking and resolution of land title disputes, as well as the use of chemicals, all of which were to be designed to address the issues raised.
All recommendations and requirements in this regard have been since fulfilled and will be further monitored, verified and reported at all future certification events. Accordingly, the grievance against the project has been lifted, though continued tracking of the issues raised as part of the grievance remains a requirement of the ongoing Monitoring Plan.