In the past few months the Okapi Conservation Project educators were, once again, busy around the Reserve. Thirty-five secondary and high schools held conservation sessions involving nearly 5,000 students. These were organized in an open forum consisting of interactive questions. During the sessions, students and educators discussed their knowledge of forests, and various threats to the native landscape including mining, slash and burn agriculture, poaching and bushmeat trade.
The role communities can play in mitigating forest loss was vigorously discussed and debated by students and community leaders. OCP educators outlined specific forest protection measures such as sustainable agriculture and tree planting in which the students can participate with their parents. The students were eager to resume sessions again, as there was so much to discuss. OCP educators will be travelling with more frequency in the coming months as security in the Reserve continues to improve.
Building an awareness of these important issues will help protect the wildlife in the Okapi Wildlife Reserve, which has one of the largest concentrations of biodiversity in the world. We are grateful to the many people around the world that support these efforts and we invite you to share this link with friends, family, and associates on social media.
Improving agriculture production reduces the need to move deeper into the forest in order to grow food, helping conserve forest habitat for okapi, forest elephant, chimpanzees, and a myriad of threatened and endangered species living in the Okapi Wildlife Reserve. By the conclusion of 2013, with the support of a widespread and caring, international community, the Okapi Conservation Project was able to reach even more farmers and communities, distributing seeds, and tools, and important knowledge of sustainable agroforestry practices.
New tree nurseries were established in Mambasa and Epulu, which will supply these communities with the important nitrogen-fixing trees needed for successful agroforestry techniques. Each year we also introduce a new crop to the region. In 2013 tomato plants were produced in Epulu for distribution to local farmers. As neighbors witness the results of practicing sustainable techniques, they are moved to participate in these programs, as well. With this new knowledge communities are responsible stewards of their forest resources.
This coming year we are planning to increase production of safo seedlings (an avocado-like fruit) and distribute them widely to communities around the Reserve. Native fruit sells well in the local markets and provide income which allows farmers to improve nutrition and health of their families.
Thank you for your support, and thank you for sharing this link with friends, family, and associates on social media. Together we are making strides in protecting habitat for wildlife, while giving communities tools for living sustainably.
OCP technicians and educators have been traveling throughout the Reserve meeting with farmers and leaders, encouraging them to keep up their efforts to improve their livelihoods through sustainable agroforestry techniques. The agroforestry team set up several vegetable nurseries and monitored mixed crop fields of farmers who received seeds and agrarian tools from OCP in 2013. The production of cash crops such as peanuts and cassava flour allows farmers to invest in the schools and clinics that serve their communities.
One major outcome of the many conservation seminars given around the Reserve over the last year by OCP educators on the effects of deforestation is that the District office for Environment in Bunia has produced more than 10,000 seedlings of fruit trees and eucalyptus tree which were distributed to the population for planting. OCP will focus on promoting replanting of trees as a grassroots effort to reverse the effects of deforestation and provide resources to communities that participate.
We are greatly encouraged by the actions and attitudes in the communities around the Reserve, and we are grateful for the many supporters around the world that are part of this important conservation effort. Thank you for your help, and please share this information with your friends on social media.
As security improves in the Epulu area, replanting of the demonstration garden is underway. This important educational tool illustrates very clearly to area farmers how a planned agroforestry system of planting can reap better harvests and over a longer period of time, than the traditional slash and burn approach to farming. Along with continuing a regular distribution of seeds, bean and peanuts for summer planting, OCP agronomists are distributing native fruit trees and nitrogen-fixing trees to farmers.
Needed shade trees are being provided to school communities where the students are involved in planting and maintaining. The agronomists take these opportunities with the students to share with them conservation information about the forest community in which they live.
Your support of this important conservation work is deeply appreciated, as even a small amount goes a long way for these communities. Helping people, in this simple way, translates directly towards helping wildlife. Share this information with your friends on Facebook and we thank you sincerely for your help.
Education and community support has never been more important for the protection of the forest resources in the DR Congo. During the past few months the Okapi Conservation Project staff has distributed educational material and school supplies to nearly all of the 106 schools around the Reserve, which serve over 27,000 students, with the remaining schools scheduled to receive their supplies over the next couple of weeks. Additionally, a campaign to distribute posters illustrating the various protected animals of the region will begin next month, and target government offices, schools and clinics around the Reserve.
Vegetable and peanut seeds, along with tools, continue to be distributed to members of the farmers’ cooperatives in Mombassa and Nduye by our Agro-forestry Team. This has been a very successful program of education to the communities in and around the Reserve and has made a great impact on the previously wide-spread practice of slash and burn for farming.
During this period of limited security, our staff continues to implement these community assistance projects with the support of concerned individuals and institutions from around the world.
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