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Help Stop Slash and Burn Farming in the Congo

by Wildlife Conservation Global
Help Stop Slash and Burn Farming in the Congo
Help Stop Slash and Burn Farming in the Congo
Help Stop Slash and Burn Farming in the Congo
Help Stop Slash and Burn Farming in the Congo
Help Stop Slash and Burn Farming in the Congo
Help Stop Slash and Burn Farming in the Congo
Filling bags with soil to plant tree seeds
Filling bags with soil to plant tree seeds

The agroforestry program continues to grow into new communities and have a measurable impact within participating villages. Over the last quarter (July-September) the agroforestry program has been able to assist over 650 farmers, and OCP nurseries distributed over 13,000 seedlings including over 4,200 nitrogen-fixing tree seedlings throughout the Okapi Wildlife Reserve (OWR). The necessary agricultural tools that will be utilized to cultivate these productive plots of land, reducing the need to expand beyond established agricultural areas were distributed as well.

As more participants are included in the program, the demand for seedlings and saplings will continue to increase. OCP staff were able to lay out six vegetable nurseries in Mambasa and Biakato. These additional vegetable nurseries will continue to provide plants for farmers who are interested in growing food using sustainable methods. Additionally, the agroforestry program was able to distribute shade tree seedlings to Bandisende, Koki, Babama, Mamopi and Ebiane to fulfill community requests. A community reforestation project at several locations, including the Ekwe area was started to plant more shade trees and fill in some of the gaps where previous plantings had occurred.

Struggles with loose goats at the Epulu demonstration field continue despite a barbed wire fence that was set around the field as indicated by a very hungry goat that found its way through the newly constructed fence. To help deter goats even more, a new row of wire was set in place. Basic lessons like these are shared across the OWR to prevent sneak attacks by other goats, lessening the number of crops lost by farmers that are part of the program.

Rice Field in Bandisende
Rice Field in Bandisende
Barbed wire added to prevent goat access
Barbed wire added to prevent goat access
Nitrogen-fixing trees lengthen the life of soil
Nitrogen-fixing trees lengthen the life of soil

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Distributing seedlings from Niania nrusery
Distributing seedlings from Niania nrusery

Members of the Okapi Conservation Project staff spent 20 days, between April 20 and May 9, in the north, northwest and northeast in the reserve meeting with customary chiefs and other community leaders, such as political and administrative authorities, military officials, and members of women’s associations. 

On the trip, steps were made toward helping local people use farming methods that have less of an impact on the forest through our agroforestry program.

The staff made another stop at the Niania nursery that was constructed earlier this year. Since its construction, over 8,000 seedlings were distributed to the villagers, including over 3,000 nitrogen fixing tree seedlings. Along with seedlings, many agricultural tools were distributed and the staff ended up assisting over 300 people through this nursery alone.

Along with visiting and helping a nursery that the staff had previously created, ten new vegetable gardens were created in Mambasa and Biakato to help the local people grow food using sustainable methods.

While working at these gardens, the staff came across some very interesting difficulties….one of these being goats. Wandering (and hungry) goats often make their way across the land looking for more food. Unfortunately, these gardens are a prime place to find goat food. To deter the goats from feeding in the gardens, the staff fixed barbed wire around each garden. Hopefully this will protect the villager’s food from unwanted dinner guests.

Through your continued and dedicated support to this project, these villagers have been provided with increased sources of food in the form of new vegetable gardens and the distribution of seedlings to improve their crop yields. 

Installing barbed wire to prevent pesky goats
Installing barbed wire to prevent pesky goats
Seedlings thriving at Niania nursery
Seedlings thriving at Niania nursery

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Filling pots with compost.
Filling pots with compost.

The agroforestry program in Niania was reinvigorated with the construction of a new nursery to provide tree seedlings for nearby areas, and a site where farmers could be educated on the sustainable crop production and how to increase their crop yields without cutting down trees for new land. We recruited local laborers to build the nursery, collect the seeds and hired a person to oversee the operation of the nursery.

Agroforestry is a form of agricultural land use that combines the planting of crops with nitrogen-fixing trees that continuously put nutrients back into the soil, extending the soil fertility by up to 10 years. It is valued by local farmers because it increases the amount of food they can produce each season, allowing the surplus to be sold to provide additional income for their families.

After a strong recommendation from the chief and community of Niania, we acted upon their request to bring a nursery back to Niania to serve the farmers in the area and help with reforestation efforts. Niania has seen an influx of population growth and a corresponding rate of deforestation. Building the nursery and sharing the sustainable farming practices with farmers will help curb this deforestation rate and through the seedlings grown at the nursery, we will be able to replace some of the trees that have been lost during the population boom.

Sign announcing Niania nursery completion
Sign announcing Niania nursery completion
Niania nursery at near capacity
Niania nursery at near capacity

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Children celebrating Tree Day on Dec 5
Children celebrating Tree Day on Dec 5

In the last 3 months of 2016, over 10,600 seedlings were distributed throughout the Okapi Wildlife Reserve (OWR) to continue bolstering reforestation efforts and assist farmers participating in our agroforestry program. We continue to monitor the growth of the nitrogen-fixing trees to determine their growth rates and their impacts on the rice, beans and peanuts.

The start of the great dry season comes in early December, and as such, we celebrated International Tree Day on December 5 by providing trees to schoolchildren around the OWR. We taught them the benefits of having trees, conserving endangered species and assisted with planting the tree saplings in a plot of land near their schools.

In Epulu, we prepped an experimental field for planting. The fallen logs and small trees that were removed were either repurposed as firewood or used as construction materials. 

The utilization of these techniques as part of our agroforestry program are only made possible by supprters like you. Thank you for your interest in our project and continued support!

Schoolchildren with trees on Tree Day
Schoolchildren with trees on Tree Day
Cabbage grown by farmer
Cabbage grown by farmer
Firewood from experimental field in Epulu
Firewood from experimental field in Epulu
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Transporting seedlings for reforestation
Transporting seedlings for reforestation

The agroforestry program continues to be successful with more and more farmers wanting to be a part of the program. The increased crop yields lessens the need to expand their farming plots farther into the forest and away from their homes making the program appealing and beneficial to all who participate.

By teaching the basic techniques of crop rotation, how to incorporate nitrogen-fixing trees and the utilization of natural fertilizers shows OCP’s investment in the community and helps build trusting relationships with everyone involved. And by providing food security to impoverished the communities, it reduces their encroachment into critical okapi habitat for access to additional space to grow crops to support their families.

As funding becomes available, we are hoping to expand into Mungbere and Niania, providing a greater area of coverage around the Reserve.

So far in 2016, OCP has built 11 new nurseries providing seedlings for reforestation projects around the Reserve. Since the last update, over 10,000 seedlings have been distributed to help rebuild vital okapi habitat around schools within the Reserve. Involving children in this process helps instill the value on wildlife conservation at a young age.

Without our champions and supporters like you, we would not be able to bring this exciting program to communities around the Reserve and help instill the value of wildlife conservation into the youth of communities sharing a home with the okapi.

Measuring heights of trees monitors reforestation
Measuring heights of trees monitors reforestation
Seedlings for reforestation in school gardens
Seedlings for reforestation in school gardens

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Organization Information

Wildlife Conservation Global

Location: Jacksonville, FL - USA
Website:
Project Leader:
John Lukas
Jacksonville, Florida United States

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