WeForest aims to restore the ecosystems in and around Mount Mulanje, a highly degraded forest reserve in southern Malawi, characterized by a high biodiversity with species that don't exist anywhere else in the world. Sadly, native forests have been disappearing rapidly affecting the local wildlife population as well. WeForest is restoring two types of native forest - Afromontane forest and Miombo woodland - while also providing alternative sources of income and training to local communities.
Over the past few decades, the growing population neighbouring Mount Mulanje has put pressure on the forest reserve. Timber extraction, charcoal production, and subsistence agriculture are the drivers of deforestation in this area. These are human activities that directly impact forest cover and result in loss of carbon stocks. This has also had a direct effect on the disappearance or sharp decline of several endemic species such as the Mulanje Cedar tree and the Mulanje chameleon.
Native forest is being restored. To address the root causes of deforestation, alternative and sustainable sources of income are provided to local communities, such as apiculture and employment in the tree nurseries. Moreover, local people can attend agroforestry training sessions, creating a new generation of farmers resilient to climate change. Moreover, schools around the forest get training in environmental awareness, making sure that forest conversation is part of every child's curriculum.
The project aims to make a sustainable and long-term impact through reforestation of degraded land, avoiding critically endangered species from disappearing as well as supporting local communities. For every 100 hectares restored, 30 families can directly benefit through employment and/or alternative livelihood schemes. A healthy forest is essential for the water supply in the region. The farmers are also trained in beekeeping: harvesting honey can significantly increase a farmer's income.