Having worked with TFCG since 1999, Adam boasts an extensive portfolio in conservation – currently working around nine villages in the rural district as well as supporting the Raleigh partnership with TFCG, “The villagers are happy to receive volunteers because they know the work will help them for the future, to make money through selling timber and gain knowledge on environmental conservation”, he explained.
A recognition amongst the community of how important is it to conserve the forests in the area, has significantly spurred on the commitment to this program. The partnership which began last year has not only ensured the contribution of both in-country and international volunteers, but also the mobilisation of more community members into taking part in the change, as Adam told us, “Before Raleigh Tanzania we didn’t have volunteers; now use their time integrating with the community and do the work the community does. The volunteers gain experience from the community and vice versa. We have seen a positive impact in the village.”
Co-operation and dialogue with district officials is essential to recruiting villagers to the site as everything associated with the project is sanctioned by village leaders. According to data in the village, 30 community members will attend the Alpha 3 project site, from three sub-villages in the district. The group is primarily composed of local famers who through their contribution to the project, will secure the seedlings that will be transplanted to their farms, “Everything we do in the village, we do it as a group; village leaders, groups and volunteers”, Adam re-enforced.
We had heard how some of the farmers were able to fill around 500 seedling tubes in one morning and as Adam had joined us at the project site, we asked him how many he filled, “Me? 140! In a short time”, he laughed.
The seedling journey really begins after the volunteers depart; six weeks is how long the germination process takes, and community members will continue monitoring. Once the seedlings grow to 8 inches, approaching rainy season, farmers will begin the transplanting process, mostly to family owned farms in the community, establishing longer term sustainability.
Additionally, the partnership secured two lessons a week at Iyegeya primary school, where Alpha 3 volunteers discuss environmental conservation and deliver lessons on topics such as climate change and on how to build rocket stoves, that minimise the use of firewood in the home, “children live with elders – grandfather, grandmother, who know nothing about it from their time in school. The children will pass on information to their families regarding the importance of conservation”, Adam said on the approach targeting youth.
For farmers, the months of October to December consist of preparing their farms and minimising the spread of wildfire in the village is crucial. There are laws to protect the community and police enforcement, yet the fires continue indiscriminately come night time. Despite this, Adam firmly expressed belief in the future, “Emphasising the importance of environmental conservation on a village, district and national level by sending a message to the children, the new generation. If we prepare the children at primary school level, it means that we will have new ideas about environmental conservation.”
The community expressed a desire for extending the project in Iyegeya beyond the current cycle. On top of receiving the seedlings, community members are trained in sustainable fishing points, bee-hive keeping and tree nurseries, encouraging them to pursue alternative livelihoods. This will contribute to decreasing the rates of cutting down trees and provide a good continuation for future work between Raleigh and TFCG, “After the volunteers depart, the villagers will continue supervising the project and dedicate time to moving the seedlings to the farm. The project helps the community to be busy; planting food crops and trees”, Adam concluded.
Words by Miguel. Images by Paul.