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Engage farmers in reversing deforestion in Zambia

by WeForest
Engage farmers in reversing deforestion in Zambia
Engage farmers in reversing deforestion in Zambia
Engage farmers in reversing deforestion in Zambia
Engage farmers in reversing deforestion in Zambia
Engage farmers in reversing deforestion in Zambia
Engage farmers in reversing deforestion in Zambia
Engage farmers in reversing deforestion in Zambia
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
Farmers in Luanshya mounting a new beehive
Farmers in Luanshya mounting a new beehive

As part of our efforts to restore the Miombo woodlands in Zambia, we are engaging local farmers in beekeeping and honey production. Since May 2017, 121 more beehives were mounted, which means that the total number of beehives across the intervention site rose to 990.

The first honey harvest is expected in December 2018. One beehive will easily be able to produce $20 in revenue per year. With enough space for around 4 beehives per hectare of woodland, each family can earn cca $80 per year per hectare. This represents a substantial increase to their existing income, which averages at $300 per year.

To manage the marketing and commercialization of the agro-forestry products produced by the farmers, WeForest supported the creation of the Luanshya Farm Forest Association. The association has 10 board members, four of whom are women, representing farmers from every area in the district. The first board meetings were held in July and August 2017.

Farmers from each area have also selected one of them to be their beekeeping mentor. In July 2017, mentors received training in beehive assembly and mounting, honey harvest, proper use of protective clothing and general bookkeeping. Now they are supporting their communities in honey production and beehive maintenance, assisting approximately 100 farmers living near them.

In Zambia, finding alternative sources of income is an inherent part of sustainable forest restoration. Thanks to your support, we can continue devising solutions that benefit people, planet and climate!

Beehives are mounted on trees in restoration areas
Beehives are mounted on trees in restoration areas
4 beehives will increase a family
4 beehives will increase a family's income by 27%
Sakami M. with her child, mother and grandmother
Sakami M. with her child, mother and grandmother

Holding her infant child and standing between her mother and grandmother, this is Sakani M. These four generations of women live under one roof. Sakani and her family have a 9-hectare subsistence farm where they grow vegetables and maize - a staple across the Luanshya district in the Zambian Copperbelt. Sakani recently joined the forest restoration program and committed to returning one hectare on the family's farm to forest through assisted natural regeneration.

Why? The stream that used to run through their land all year now dries up for a number of months. Some of the ways trees and forests contribute to the water cycle are common knowledge: trees enable water from precipitations to infiltrate through soils and recharge the groundwater, they prevent topsoil erosion and lower the risk of floods. There is less awareness of the role forests have in actually triggering precipitation. Tiny organic particles released by trees ascend into the upper atmosphere and serve as surfaces on which water vapor can condense. Condensed water vapor forms clouds that will shower lands below them with rain and reflect solar energy back into space, providing a natural cooling effect.

Sakani and her community are restoring Miombo woodlots as a way to recharge their water resources. Regenerated forests will also increase biodiversity and the number of pollinators for their crops, securing their food supply. Food and water - two basic needs are being disrupted by deforestation and climate change. Thanks to your support, we can help Sakani and others in her community implement a simple, cost-efficient and effective solution to both local and global issues.

Arid farmland in the Luanshya district
Arid farmland in the Luanshya district
Tree nursery with seedlings ready to be planted
Tree nursery with seedlings ready to be planted
Fruit tree grafting Training
Fruit tree grafting Training

Fruit tree grafting as a skill supports businesses, women empowerment and environmentally friendly practices

In Zambia, girls often drop out of school too early to start taking care of their family. Therefore, WeForest has a specific focus on training women to become entrepreneurs. By learning new skills and organizing themselves, women can diversify their income and become more financially independent.

Jane N. is 42 years old and Treasurer of a women’s cooperative in Mpatamatu, in Luanshya district, Zambia. In August 2016, she followed a fruit tree grafting training together with some other women of her region. Now, one year later, she is taking the lead to organize those women into a women’s grafting group. They will graft different varieties of Orange trees (incl. Valencia) and Citrus trees (incl. Tangelo) for commercial purposes. To support them, WeForest is preparing their first order where we guarantee market take off at competitive prices for their first 500 healthy grafted fruit trees.

Women that follow those training receive mother stock, seeds and grafting equipment to start up their own micro nurseries. They are asked to invite other women in their neighborhood to disseminate the knowledge to. Also, women that come for training are engaged in reforestation where they set aside a minimum of 2 lima (0.5 ha) of land for assisted natural regeneration.

In Zambia, deforestation and forest degradation severely impacts local livelihoods and directly affects the local water table. By diversifying people’s income and engaging them in forest restoration activities, reforestation and economic benefits can go hand in hand.



Empowered farmers are environmental stewards
Empowered farmers are environmental stewards

Your support is now impacting more people and restoring more forest than ever.

By supporting this project you are helping to restore the threatened Miombo woodland in Zambia´s Luanshya district and empowering farmers to improve their livelihoods by keeping the forest standing. That´s good news for people, planet and climate. Remember that trees are the best technology to combat climate change. 

In October 2016, 470 farmers were involved in our project. Today, 195 more smallholder farmers have been trained and are ready to begin restoring the Miombo woodlots on their farms. With a minimum of two limas (0.5 hectares) of forest each, there is the potential to increase the area under restoration by around 100 hectares, something that wouldn´t have been possible without your support.

Our project makes sure that trees are worth more standing than felled. Farmers are trained to harvest biomass sustainably, offering families a new source of income straight from the forest itself! There are a number of other socio-economic development activities they can take up as well, including honey production from beehives installed in their Miombo woodlots.

Training took place over the course of two days. In the morning, theory classes took place, on assisted natural regeneration (the method farmers use to restore the woodlots) and beekeeping, followed by practical training in the afternoon. Almost just as many women took part as men. Out of 195 farmers, 93 were women and 102 were men. We make sure that women have the opportunity to improve their livelihoods too.

200 other farmers have signed up to receive training in 2018.

It is always extremely exciting to see the interest from people living alongside the forest we´re restoring. We couldn´t do it without them, and we couldn´t do it without you either.

Thank you for supporting our efforts. We encourage you to keep on doing so, to restore forests, empower rural families and make earth cooler.

Practical training in ANR under the forest canopy
Practical training in ANR under the forest canopy

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Organization Information


Location: Overijse - Belgium
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @WeForest_org
Project Leader:
Maurah Van Impe
Overijse, Belgium
$10,606 raised of $20,000 goal
181 donations
$9,394 to go
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