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May 8, 2018

Trees change lives with your support!

Thandi with her children on their farm
Thandi with her children on their farm

Planting trees and restoring forests only make sense if you can ensure the trees will thrive in the long term. For that, you need the local communities to see more value in standing trees than in felled forests. In the Copperbelt region of Zambia, WeForest supports hundreds of farmers in restoring plots of native woodland on their farms that have been over-exploited for charcoal production. In the short term, farmers and their families benefit from our forestry training, get access to beehives and efficient wood cooking stoves, and plant grafted fruit trees to diversify their sources of livelihood. In the long term, this project helps farmers secure ownership of land, which will ensure the conservation and livelihood outcomes are long-lasting.

Thandi* is one of the project’s beneficiaries. She is 32 years old and lives together with her husband, two children and a newborn on their 9.7 hectare farm in Luanshya. Since the loss of her husband’s parents, Thandi and her husband no longer had the manpower to cultivate their farm. They were struggling to get enough income to feed the family and send the children to school.

Thandi's husband participated in our two-day training covering, among other topics, the economic benefits of forestry. Since parts of his farm already started to turn back into forest, he was convinced that this was the right project for him to join. In the first year, the family can earn approximately 500 ZMW only by harvesting and selling honey from the beehives installed on trees. This represents a substantial increase to a farming family’s income, which averages at approximately 3 000 ZMW per year. As Thandi explains: “The loss of my husband’s parents did not only touch us emotionally, it also made us financially more vulnerable. With this project, we hope to diversify and increase our farm income, without more labour for us.”

In Zambia, forest restoration and climate change mitigation go hand in hand with livelihood development. Thanks to your support, we can help Thandi and other families in the Copperbelt region implement simple, cost-efficient and effective solutions to both local and global issues.

*Name was edited to protect the privacy of the project participants.

Assembling a new beehive
Assembling a new beehive
Aerial view of the farm woodlands
Aerial view of the farm woodlands
Apr 9, 2018

An expert visit to our project sites

WeForest & THP project managers with Dr. Abiyu
WeForest & THP project managers with Dr. Abiyu

In the last week of January, WeForest and our partner The Hunger Project (THP) invited Dr. Abrham Abiyu, Forestry Research Director at Amhara Regional Agricultural Research Institute (ARARI), to visit our project sites and discuss forest landscape restoration practices with our project managers.

Dr. Abiyu has several years of experience studying forest conservation and restoration in Amhara and other Ethiopian regions. He publishes regularly in Ethiopian and international scientific journals, and knows well the specific characteristics of the Northern Ethiopian forests.

After visiting 4 of our older sites and 2 sites created in 2017, Dr. Abiyu offered to share his experience and support our team. He highlighted the importance of pre-planting activities, such as site selection, quality seed collection and nursery management, for successful forest restoration. WeForest & THP team explained how our project addresses these important elements, and discussed areas for further improvement and research collaboration.

Pre-planting activities are part of our innovative “train the trainer model” that promotes local capacity building. Participating members of the local community are trained to provide further training to other farmers living near them. Each trainer is specialised in a topic: seed collection, propagation, nursery management, tree planting, forest management or sustainable harvesting of non-timber forest products. To ensure the project benefits are felt throughout the community, a preference is given to engaging women and economically disadvantaged groups.

By grounding our forest landscape restoration activities in science and tailoring them to the ecosystem and community needs, we are able to make a true impact on people, planet and climate. Thank you for making that possible!

Visiting a site in Machakel in Amhara, Ethiopia
Visiting a site in Machakel in Amhara, Ethiopia
Mar 12, 2018

Enhancing forest restoration with new technology

Tree sapling planted in water saving gel
Tree sapling planted in water saving gel

Restoring Tigray’s dry Afromontane forest is a real challenge. In the dry season, which lasts around 9 months, there is serious water scarcity which makes it very difficult for young seedlings to survive.

To overcome this challenge, WeForest and the local team take several precautionary measures. We train community members in post-planting operations for watering and increasing survival, and we plant 10% more seedlings than the number of trees financed to compensate for the higher seedling mortality rates. In addition to that, we are testing a new method for increasing water availability for seedlings with water saving gels.

The gel is semi-synthetic and biodegradable. When it absorbs water, it expands up to 300 times its original size. The gel adheres to the roots of the plant and releases water when the soil moisture drops.

WeForest is testing the use of water saving gels in collaboration with Mekelle University and Ethiopian Bureau of Agriculture. If the tests are successful, the technology will be incorporated in our project management plans, making our impact on people, planet and climate even greater. Thank you for being part of this journey!

Small gel balls release water when soil is dry
Small gel balls release water when soil is dry
Degraded dry Afromontane forest in Tigray
Degraded dry Afromontane forest in Tigray
 
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