One of our tools for monitoring the health of the Ituri Forest and the Okapi Wildlife Reserve is aerial surveys. By conducting regular fly overs we can detect illegal activities such as poaching and mining, as well as agricultural encroachment into protected areas. Farmers expand their farms because slash and burn agricultural techniques are inefficient and their fields become unproductive in 2-3 years and they cut down more forest to try and feed their families. The aerial surveys identify areas where agricultural areas are encroaching into the Reserve so that the teams can focus on those issues.
The Okapi Conservation Project agroforestry team works with farmers providing techniques which improve and preserve the soil quality while producing higher yields to allow them to efficiently feed their families. The Project education team teaches farmers about their role as stewards of the forest, to understand the importance of the wildlife and forest and their natural heritage. By regularly monitoring with aerial surveys we can evaluate the progress of our programs to control slash and burn agriculture and reforestation.
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