The focus for this year’s International Day of Forests is the importance of education at all levels in achieving sustainable forest management and biodiversity conservation. Raleigh Tanzania Volunteers are currently working in Kibao Village in the Mufindi District of Iringa, to deliver an NRM (Natural Resource Management) programme which has a significant focus on education and awareness raising amongst young people in the village.
Kibao village is situated in the southern Udzungwa Mountains. The mountains are one of the World Wildlife Organisation Global 200 priority ecoregions due to the volume of endemic plant and animal species. In the last 30 years alone, over 12% of the forests in this area have been lost and one continuous forest has become smaller isolated patches of land. Raleigh has partnered with TFCG (Tanzania Forest Conservation Group) to deliver the project in Kibao. TFCG Project Officer Adam John Mgovano summaries the project: “Our aim is to reduce deforestation through establishing new sustainable forestry initiatives on a village level, and raising awareness within the community of why this is important”
The TFCG and Raleigh Tanzania NRM project focuses on afforestation (the planting of trees on patches of land which were not previously covered in forest) in order to create a sustainable forestry solution and income source for the people of Kibao. The hope is that combined with education on the important of protecting forests on a global and local level, this will reduce the dependence on, and deforestation of Kibao’s natural forests. The project has taken place over 6 weeks and has up to this point consisted of creating tree seedling beds, planting seeds, creating plastic tubes with soil for seedlings to grow in, and now transporting these new seedlings from the tree bed into the tubes. The seedlings will have 9 months to grow before they are transferred into a newly designated area to fully mature. Approximately 120,000 seedlings have been planted and they will take between 10 to 15 years to fully develop. Alongside TFCG, the villagers from the 7 hamlets of Kibao are also participating in the project with 28 Tanzanian and international Raleigh volunteers at the tree nursery every day. The vision for this project is to contribute to both the resource and education needed for communities to sustainably manage their forest in the long term.
The significant focus of the NRM project is increasing awareness of issues related to NRM to the younger generation. This is being achieved through teaching various classes in the surrounding primary and secondary schools and introducing environmental clubs to encourage engagement from all pupils. The lessons have addressed issues such as the importance of forests, causes and effects of deforestation, introduction to climate change on a global and national level, and the way the SDGs (sustainable development goals) are contributing to protecting the earth’s forests. The creation of fuel-efficient stoves which provide a more efficient, cost-effective and less environmentally damaging cooking resource has also been part of the project Raleigh volunteers have worked alongside community members to build and raise awareness of their benefits and how to construct them.
Summarising the success of the project, Adam John Mgovano commented that “The community feels happy with the project and this connection has brought us together as one team. The continuous help from villagers is an indicator that the project is working, and this will continue after Raleigh leaves by giving hamlets their own responsibility to help build a sustainable future.”
By Rachel Atkinson, Raleigh Tanzania Volunteer