Active since



Greater Mara Ecosystem consisting of 15 conservancies adjacent to the national reserve, Kenya

Kenya’s Maasai Mara, form together with the Serengeti plains in Tanzania, one of Africa’s most iconic landscapes, celebrated for its wildlife and Wildebeest migration. Yet, while Maasai Mara has sustained humans and wildlife for millennia, today it is undergoing a transition. As the region shifts from a nomadic to a sedentary way of life, it must absorb changing land tenure systems, human population growth and climate change, all of which is leading to land degradation due to overgrazing, fencing and the disappearance of its wildlife. The Basecamp Explorer Foundation (BEF) and the Maasai Mara Wildlife Conservancies Association (MMWCA) approached Commonland to develop economic solutions that look beyond tourism alone. Using our 4 Returns framework, we came up with a string of relevant economic projects specific to the Greater Mara Ecosystem.

Of the opportunities identified, the potential of carbon compensation activities was considered very promising. This allows farmers and land users who aim to improve their land use (farming, livestock or forestry) to receive financial compensation for the additional carbon they store in the soils and vegetation. It fell on Commonland to assess how to capitalise the potential of each of these multiple carbon projects and how they would impact the Mara’s varied landscape and habitats. Some of those assessed included sustainable grazing, and a REDD+ programme (Reducing Emission from Deforestation and Degradation and reforestation).

Establishing a community-based carbon project can be extremely complex, but it became quickly clear that the Greater Mara Ecosystem has no shortage of people and groups eager to positively contribute to this unique landscape.
Caroline van Tilborg, managing director Commonland bv.

After conducting preliminary feasibility the activities proposed will positively impact both the livelihoods of people and the biodiversity of the 770,000 hectare region.

There is a staggering amount initiatives and interventions already ongoing in the Mara; moving forward we need to build off this progress to develop a successful carbon program.
Tom Davies, Junior Advisor Commonland bv.

Photography by Tom Davies

Giving people hope and a sense of purpose.
Social Capital
Bringing back jobs, business activity, education and security.
Natural Capital
Restoring biodiversity, soil, water quality and capturing carbon.
Financial Capital
Realizing long-term sustainable profit.

Current status

An estimated 3 million tons of carbon credits generated.



The carbon credits come from reforestation, REDD+ and sustainable grazing. 

Current status

Linkage to a beef processing unit to shorten the value chain and branding of Mara Beef.


There is also a range of community projects such as woodchips to reduce the burden on native forest for cooking purposes and chicken farm to diversity income. The carbon program will lead to significant job opportunities in the area as it comes with strong community engagement activities. 


Current status

Sustainable grazing practices combined with herding for health program.



This program was created to improve the quality of livestock and subsequently to reduce livestock numbers to the carrying capacity of the grasslands. This will lead to better grass cover for livestock and wildebeest, better soils and water retention capacity and revenues from sale of higher quality cattle and beef. 

Current status

Revenue sharing mechanism amongst landowners.




As an incentive for landowners to de-fence the area to support iconic wildebeest migration, there is a revenue sharing mechanism linked to the revenues from the sale of carbon credits.