People often ask WeForest: how do you guarantee the trees will grow? This is an excellent question. The answer is: only when trees are important for the local people they will take care of them and make sure the trees grow to their full potential. Engaging local communities in our reforestation activities is crucial for success and we take this very serious.
On Saturday 22 October 2016 in the Tigray region of Ethiopia, WeForest held an on-site consultative meeting and discussion with local government officials, foresters from the local Mekele University, community leaders and community representatives to discuss and plan the next stages of the reforestation project in Central Tigray. The new forests are planned for heavily degraded areas, called exclosures (because they are not accessible for grazing cattle).
On the agenda to discuss were; the exclosures by-laws, that is, the regulations and rights regarding current and future use of the exclosure and site management to optimize ecosystem services, how best to involve the vulnerable members of the society (poor families and women) and how to manage the tree nurseries.
We heard what indigenous species community members would prefer to plant (e.g Olea europaea, Acacia abyssinica, and Juniperus procera) and which additional income generating activities they are most interested in. Honey production is the most promising options and ranked first by community representatives. It was also decided that the community will provide free labour to make soil and water conservation structures in the planting area. In kind contributions, like free labour, are crucial for creating long-term community support for the new forests.
With the decision-making out of the way, we will be setting up the community-based nurseries and growing our first batch of seedlings next month.