Farmers in undeveloped countries often cause deforestation as trees are generally the only means of livelihood 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 over 800 small-scale farmer families to make them stewards of their forests.
They receive forestry training, fuel-efficient stoves, and subsidies for planting grafted fruit trees, and 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 SAYE we have been planting two trees for each pair of sneakers sold, helping to plant 132,994 trees in Zambia, most of them fruit trees for two good reasons: local farmers being able to restore the forest and harvesting fruit to eat or sell it. Alongside the reforestation project, we also help to link farmers and local private companies to create local networks. For instance, we help honey productors by financing beehives that farmers install on some of the trees that have been planted.
As a result, the community learns new skills, diversifies their economic activities and receives additional income, which makes them less dependent on the WeForest contribution gradually.
The Luanshya district,
Albizia spp., Avocado Tree, Brachystegia spp., Combretum spp., Isoberlinia spp., Julbernardia paniculata, Pinus oocarpa,
Mining and charcoal
The native forest in which the Miombo community lives, located in the Copperbelt province, has suffered from mining and charcoal production as nowhere else in Zambia.
Our partner WeForest trains farmers in restoring their small farmlands (1 or 2 ha on average) with indigenous fruit trees. Farmers join the programme and report progress using their phones: all of this information is stored to monitor the areas restored through Geographic Information System (GIS) mapping.
522 farmers have reported to see their income increase and 505 farm families said they have seen their income diversified through the project.
The project empowers Miombo farmers to restore woodlots on their farmland. Farmers with a minimum of one ‘lima’ (0.25 ha) of woodlot are recruited and trained in assisted natural regeneration, which involves protecting and nurturing wild tree seedlings.
This process is carried out throughout the year 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 restoration of the forest includes 70 different tree species, which means the tree diversity in the areas of the project is very high, especially when compared to mature woodland elsewhere. By practicing controlled early burning where possible, the growth of a more diverse set of herbs and flowers is stimulated. In addition, the endangered African crowned eagle has been seen recently in the project area again.
Fruit trees take a while before producing food or income, therefore farmers need short term alternatives to replace the income they used to earn 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 species that has been added to the area this year. Avocado trees are resilient and low-maintenance; a mature avocado tree can reach up to 10 meters and sequester 10 kg of CO2 per year.