Farmers in undeveloped countries often cause deforestation as trees are generally the only way for them to cook or earn an extra income through charcoal production. In Zambia our partner WeForest helps the Miombo community become part of the solution engaging with more than 800 small-scale farmer families to make them stewards of their forests.
They receive forestry training, efficient fuel stoves, and subsidies for grafted fruit trees, and specially women are becoming entrepreneurs as they are trained and equipped to run home-based tree-nurseries. Furthermore, they can apply for specific permaculture or plant nursery training to diversify their skills and farm livelihoods.
Since we started Wado we have helped to plant 21.120 trees, most of them fruit trees. This is because in addition to being able to restore the forest, local farmers can harvest the fruit, eat it or sell it. Alongside the reforestation project, we also help to link farmers to local private sector companies such as honey productors, financing beehives which are installed on some of the trees that have been planted.
As a result, the community learns new skills, diversifies their economic activities and receive additional income, which makes them less dependant on the WeForest contribution.
The Luanshya district,
Mining and charcoal production.
Albizia spp., Avocado Tree, Brachystegia spp., Combretum spp., Isoberlinia spp., Julbernardia paniculata, Pinus oocarpa, Pterocarpus angolensis.
Assisted natural regeneration
The typical Miombo forest, located in the Copperbelt province, has suffered from mining and charcoal production more than anywhere else in Zambia.
Our partner WeForest trains farmers in restoring their small farms (1 or 2 ha on average) with indigenous and fruit trees. Farmers join the programme and report progress with their phones: all of this information is stored to monitor and report with GIS maps of the areas restored.
522 farmers indicate they have seen their income increase through the project and 505 farm families indicate they have seen their income diversified through the project.
The project empowers farmers to restore Miombo woodlots on their farmland. Farmers with a minimum of one lima (0.25 hectares) of woodlot are recruited and trained in assisted natural regeneration, which involves protecting and nurturing wild tree seedlings.
This process is carried out all year round and serves to promote the natural succession of the forest. To monitor the progress of the restoration efforts and the project in general, the farmers details are stored in a database alongside GIS mapping.
The restoring forest has 70 different tree species, which means the tree diversity in the project ANR plots is very high, especially when comparing to the mature Miombo woodland elsewhere. By practicing early burning where possible, the growth of a more diverse set of herbs and flowers is stimulated. Also, through reforestation, the endangered African Crowned Eagle is now seen in the project area again.
Fruit trees take a while before producing food or income, therefore farmers need short term alternatives to replace the cash they used to get from charcoal production. Beehives help a lot as they can double their annual income in some cases.
Farmers are also taught to harvest biomass from their woodlots through coppicing, a technique that involves extracting wood from tree stems while leaving the total number of trees intact, making it a sustainable alternative to charcoal production.
The avocado tree is a new tree specie that has been added to the area this year. Avocado trees are resilient and low-maintenance and a mature avocado tree can reach up to 10 meter and sequester 10 kg of CO2 per year.