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Moldova: Soil Conservation
(Prototype Carbon Fund)

UNFCCC Reference No.: 1948

2 Project Documents

Project Photo 1
Degraded land in Moldova (Photo: World Bank)
Moldova is an agrarian country, a small, landlocked nation bordering on Ukraine and Romania. Since Moldova’s independence in 1991, the country has experienced significant and continued declines in agricultural production, productivity and exports. More than three-quarters of the land is agricultural, and most of the population lives in rural areas. But within the first 5 years after independence, agricultural production declined by 26% and the gross domestic product as a whole fell by 50%. Almost half the people are living below the poverty line, making Moldova the poorest country in Europe.

Due to its landscape and ground profile characteristics, Moldova is constantly affected by landslides. These events most commonly occur during the winter and spring months due to increased precipitation rates and soil saturation. About 20% of Moldova’s territory is known to be prone to landslide hazards. Landslides have affected about 44% of human settlements in the past. Agricultural land is particularly at risk due to soil disturbance and loss of vegetative cover. Large areas of agricultural land have been lost. Two of the few mitigation measures available are to afforest or reforest the land to stabilize landslides.

The PCF will assist in this effort through its participation in a project that will plant trees on degraded lands. The Moldova Soil Conservation Project pilots one of the first purchases of emission reductions under the Land Use, Land-Use Change, and Forestry aspect of the Clean Development Mechanism of the Kyoto Protocol. The Emission Reductions Purchase Agreement includes a series of innovative clauses addressing the issue of permanence. The Project will be submitted for registration to the Executive Board of the CDM after the Ninth Session of the Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP-9).

Project Photo 2
Afforestation can significantly restore impoverished soils as shown here(Photo: World Bank)
The objective of the project is to restore the productivity of 14,500 hectares of degraded agricultural lands for rural communities and to build community capacity to manage 5,400 hectares of these lands. Planting degraded pasturelands with tree and shrub species adapted to adverse conditions such as poor soils and erosion will provide urgently needed fuel wood and timber to rural communities.

Plant species will include a large variety of native and semi-naturalized species. On land of sufficient quality, Quercus robur, Fraxinus excelsior, and many other species of trees and shrubs can be planted. On the most degraded lands, less-demanding species such as Robinia pseudoacacia and Gleditschia triachantos have to be used. All 1,891 afforestation plots, with an average of seven hectares each, will consist of at least two species. As soil conditions improve, within 20 or more years, an effort will be made to reintroduce more native species to recreate the old forests typical of Moldova.

Project lands belong either to Moldsilva, the national government forestry agency, or to local communities. With communal land, there are two possible courses of action. The community may decide to delegate planting and management to Moldsilva for 10 years, after which the land will be returned to the communities with a number of contractual obligations regarding protection and management. Alternatively, the community may decide to relinquish the land to Moldsilva indefinitely. In both cases, the community has an incentive to transfer the land to Moldsilva given the advanced degradation of the land and its very low economic value, sometimes negative value—even when the arable topsoil has been lost, the owner still has to pay the land tax.

Over a period of about 15 years, the project is expected to sequester 1.8 million tons of carbon dioxide equivalent, around 1.3 million tons of which will be purchased by the PCF. The remainder will be kept in a reserve to mitigate the risk of damage to the carbon asset, in case the new plantings are destroyed by natural or human factors. The total Emission Reductions Purchase Agreement value is estimated at around US$5.1 million.

Moldsilva is the project developer. It will fully finance the estimated US$14 million needed over the first 4 years of the project, while the PCF will purchase the emission reductions resulting from carbon sequestration in above- and below-ground vegetation. Avoided losses in soil carbon stocks resulting from the project have been estimated but will not be part of the PCF purchase.

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