The Kukumuty project, led by the Mangunde and Nhaumue communities of Chibabava in Mozambique, has become the first project to be certified beneath Version 5 of the Plan Vivo Carbon Standard (PV Climate). The project, which started in 2022, works to enrich the Miombo forests in and around Chibabava whilst also tackling food insecurity within the region.  

In the Chibabava District of central Mozambique, the Nhaumue and Mangunde communities are working to enrich the Miombo forests and to fight hunger by building up local food systems. Miombo forest is a tropical woodland ecosystem rich in biodiversity. It covers roughly 10% of the African continent and supports nearly two-thirds of rural livelihoods across this part of Africa. However, this complex ecosystem is under threat. Changing climate patterns, combined with growing economic stress for rural households, has increased pressure on miombo woodland resources, its endemic biodiversity and its ecosystem services.

The Kukumuty project, which works over a total of 369ha and takes its name from the Ndau phrase ‘Kurarama Kuthemba Muty’ (translation: ‘we live and hope because of the trees’) aims to alleviate this pressure. The project establishes Miombo and agroforestry nurseries and plots for growing horticultural species. This includes a combination of fruit, nut, medicinal, and other useful native trees (including Albizia, Papaya, Mango, Orange, Avocado, and Moringa) and the sustainable collection of grasses, honey and indigenous Miombo fruits.


These project interventions build on the knowledge and expertise of rural communities to create more resilient agroecosystems, whilst also introducing alternative and sustainable livelihood opportunities for local people, in turn helping to combat food insecurity and poverty. Simple, but innovative and effective tools are being deployed to tackle food insecurity and improve yields. One of the most effective tools are the ‘bicibombas’, specially adapted bikes that create a manual water pump for farm irrigation, simply by pedalling. The bicibombas provide permanent access to irrigation which helps low-income families access permanent irrigation. 

Specially adapted bikes, known as 'bicibombas' have been deployed as a simple but effective, low-cost irrigation system for local families. Credit: Azada Verde

For Gloria Fernando, a nursery worker at Nhaumue, the project not only improves soil fertility, but also supports her and her family by providing job opportunities in the local nursery;

''I am very satisfied that the project has implemented the agroforestry system, as with these climate changes, it can improve soil fertility. Additionally, I managed to get a job [in the nursery] to support my children, as I am a widow and responsible for providing for my children's education and food.''

From a climate and biodiversity perspective, Kukumuty’s interventions seek to increase floral diversity by establishing greater numbers of endemic Miombo species, which also boosts carbon sequestration. Carbon removals are currently estimated to be in excess of 74,000tCO2e over the project lifetime, with the carbon finance generated aiming to being reinvested by the communities in social projects such as apiculture, schooling and water structures.

Gloria Fernando, a nursery worker at Nhaumue, notes that Kukumuty's project interventions have not only improved soil fertility, but also provided local people like her with job opportunities. Credit: Azada Verde

Achieving PV Climate certification

The project is a result of the collaborative efforts and dedication of the Nhaumue and Mangunde communities, project developers Climate Lab, local partners Reseed Indico, and NGO partner Azada Verde. For Climate Lab, Kukumuty is not their first Plan Vivo ‘gig’ so to speak. The Climate Lab story started with years of research at Ghent University, studying climate impact on the environment and livelihoods in the North-Ethiopian Highlands.

In 2016, the spin-off project EthioTrees came to existence, a small reforestation project located in the steep hills of the Tembien Highlands. Roughly a year later, EthioTrees achieved Plan Vivo certification. In the following years, based on community interest, the project grew organically. In 2021, Climate Lab started to disseminate the EthioTrees model to Mozambique (Kukumuty) and Madagascar (Voa Aina) too.

Image below: An initial participatory session takes place with the community of Mangunde. Credit: Climate Lab

Fast forward three years and Kukumuty is now a fully certified PV Climate project (officially registered in May 2024). In addition, Kukumuty also becomes the first project to be certified beneath PV Climate version 5 (V5). This updated version of the Plan Vivo Carbon Standard was developed in response to emerging best practice within the VCM and was officially launched by Plan Vivo in 2022.

Periodical updates of Plan Vivo Standards aim to incorporate the Foundation’s experience and progressive knowledge of project development, project marketability, and the changing landscape of environmental markets. For prospective and pipeline projects in the process of developing and implementing PV Climate requirements, V5 of the Standard provides an opportunity to take advantage of standardised methodologies and improved environmental and social safeguarding procedures.

The newly attached Plan Vivo Certificate (PVC) crediting unit types have been designed with the aim of improving clarity for resellers and buyers purchasing PVCs and making subsequent climate claims, whilst ICROA endorsement of the Standard also means projects have access to a wider market of responsible buyers.

Project Perspectives: An interview with Kukumuty Project Developers, Climate Lab

With the benefit of developing a PV Climate V4 (Ethiotrees) and V5 (Kukumuty) project, what differences have the Climate Lab team found between the two Standards. What opportunities and challenges do they foresee for Kukumuty as a registered V5 project? 

The Climate Lab team tell us more below. 

How are you feeling about the official PV Climate certification of the Kukumuty project?

The project started its very first initial meetings in 2021. In 2022 we won a VIKAP climate action grant to cover the start-up costs on the ground. We hired team members and set up the first nurseries. So finally, roughly three years after its birth, we are very happy to get PV certification. It means the very tiny young project we started has proved to now be strong enough to survive and to start growing.

What does certification mean for the communities and ecosystems involved in the project?

We believe it provides both socio-environmental funding and quality of working. First, Plan Vivo sets the bar to share at least 60% of the carbon benefits with the communities. This is a good thing, as we see it boosts enthusiasm in the communities to foster Miombo enrichment. Second, PV Climate gives us a guiding track to help us design the project in a sound way. The Standard will guide us over the coming years, and make sure we remain on track during the next 30 years. For us, it helps to be able to use the PV Climate to ensure best practices, to streamline processes, and to follow the Standard’s benchmarks to obtain a real level of quality.

What challenges did you face when developing the Kukumuty project?

Finding start-up funding is not easy: it involves a lot of grant writing. We finally found it in VIKAP. The logistics of running a project in Chibabava (5 hours driving from Beira) is challenging: luckily the project director Samuel Sibanda is an incredible driver. And finding the right team members has been key: currently we have a magnificent team on the ground!

Why do you think updating PV Climate is important? 

To stand still is to go backwards: it is good news that PV looks to the future. We believe under V5 there are more safeguard mechanisms for communities: e.g. we think that the E&S Risk Assessments can be very valuable to improve the project design in the first phases. Also, for buyers, there are even more safeguards in V5. We have noticed that ICROA buyers have become increasingly interested in our projects. We feel that with V5 we can attract a bigger international market. More safeguards, more buyers and higher prices will not weaken, but strengthen, the community core benefits.

With the benefit of having developed the first V5 project, and have a certified and operational V4 project, what are the differences that you (as project developers) have found between the two versions of PV Climate (V4 and V5)?

In general, V5 has much more guidelines. On the one hand, you are a bit “less free” to develop your own methodology and the process is slower. On the other hand, you have many more guidelines to take you along the (difficult path of) certification and project development. We particularly liked the E&S risk management because you are forced to re-evaluate your project right at the moment when you thought it was well-designed. Through organising these extra risk community meetings, you find further elements that can improve the project design.

Kukumuty is not Climate Lab's first Plan Vivo 'gig' so to speak. The organisation collaboratively designed and implemented the EthioTrees project, a certified V4 PV Climate project located in the Tembien Highlands of Ethiopia. Credit: EthoTrees/ Climate Lab

What challenges do you see for V5 PV Climate certified projects? 

Long validation timelines are one thing. Another thing is that you cannot directly retire fPVCs nor rPVCs from the registry: you must wait until these become vPVCs. With this in mind, we think buyers will need some extra “education” if they really want scarce high-integrity removal credits, they will have to be more open in an evolving market. This is the way to really help and fund impact on the ground.

What are the opportunities / challenges you see for Kukumuty specifically as a project certified beneath PV Climate V5?

We are looking forward to the first sale, which will also be the very first sale of these new V5 PVCs, and we cannot wait for the first social funds to begin flowing back to the community.

And finally, what advice might you give to project developers who are currently, or may be looking to develop a PV Climate V5 project?

Take your time, at least 2 to 3 years. Start the design with community meetings and end the design with community meetings. And try to do the E&S risk planning early on during the design, that will help a lot. Overall, it is more work to develop a project along V5 as compared to V4. But it should increase both community confidence and buyer confidence, and thus boost prices for these high-integrity removal credits, so in the end we will all benefit.

What next for Kukumuty?

For Hugo Coll Dalmau, Azada Verde’s Director, reaching PV Climate certification stage encapsulates three years of hard work and a long journey;

''It's very exciting that the Kukumuty project is now fully certified beneath PV Climate. Plan Vivo certification will allow the project to have continuity and sustained growth over time. Changes take time, especially ones of this nature, because we are directly impacting people's lives and ecosystems and that doesn't happen overnight; it's a long journey. Certification will enable local families to break free from the annual cycles of hunger they experience, generating opportunities and livelihoods for current and future generations whilst caring for their ecosystems.''

Community members constructing 'swales' (water trapping structures) in Nhamue. Credit: Azada Verde

Over the coming years the project aims to strengthen food security by creating and establishing agro-ecosystem mosaics, increase livelihood opportunities through the sale of fruits, nuts, miombo fruits, honey, and other related produce, and enhance and protect crucial biodiversity found in this important Miombo hotspot. It is also hoped, alike the Ethiotrees project, that the project will upscale naturally through organic interest in, and the subsequent inclusion of, additional neighbouring communities. 

Plan Vivo would like to congratulate the Kukumuty project for achieving PV Climate certification and in being the first registered V5 project. We look forward to seeing how the project progresses.

If you are interested in supporting the Kukumuty project and/or purchasing Kukumuty Plan Vivo Certificates (PVCs) please contact the Climate Lab team: [email protected]

If you would like to know more about PV Climate certification, and the updated Standard (V5), please email [email protected]