Erosion control, farm land restoration and conservation of montane rainforest through afforestation and beekeeping in Lushoto District, Tanzania
Based on the positivie experiences Ibrahim Hussein made with the people in the Usambara Mountains in 2015/16 he has begun to manage a similar project beginning of 2018 again in Lushoto District. The local project partner and beneficiaries are the Kizanda Environmental Group in Mayo and the Pentecostal Church Conservation Group in Yoghoi. Their fight is against soil erosion, farm land degradation and depletion of water sources.
In the last 50 years more than 70% of the forest cover in the Usambara Mt. has vanished due to an enormous raise in population and the associated need for farm land, firewood and woody construction material. The people have felled more than replanted trees and the effects are becoming a real impairment to sustainable rural development – besides the obvious loss of habitat and biodiversity. The steep hillsides where small-holder famers grow their crops are prone to erosion once deep rooting vegetation like trees are gone. When farm land erodes and gets lost farmers need to clear more land to grow their crops and this starts a vicious cycle where at the end farmers and nature both lose. The roads carved into the hillside need to be bordered with trees on both side to prevent erosion but farmers try to extend their fields right up to the roads in order to make use of every inch of soil. Then the land erodes, roads are not passable for days, sometimes weeks, and farmland is lost again. As if this wasn’t enough the natural water sources increasingly run dry because of disturbance of the natural hydrological cycles that forests provide.
The Kizanda Environmental Group in Mayo under leadership of Mr. Magogo who is a retired forest specialist and the Pentecostal Church Conservation Group in Yoghoi under Priest Johana Mtangi have chosen their weapons to fight for sustainability: afforestation and apiculture. Planting trees on road sides and on farms to control erosion, to secure future supply of fire and construction wood and to protect the water sources in combination with beekeeping will lead in their eyes to the immediate and mid-term solution of their villages’ problems. If farmers plant trees and thereby forsake to grow crops on the spot where the tree is growing this tree needs to have as many additional values besides erosion control as possible. Therefore especially ornamental trees whose flowers bees feed upon will be planted next to the roads. The farmers who become trained in beekeeping will then produce honey that eases the families income situation to such an extent that they don’t rely entirely on their crop production or even the vending of coal and firewood any more. The remaining trees will be planted as little plantation forests that provide the fire and construction wood in the future, whereas the trees planted on community land around the water sources will be declared as protected forest under village law. And then eventually all these measures will contribute to a longer life of the remaining areas of undisturbed natural forest that is loaded with an unseen variety of species in the Usambaras.
So much for the theory. We will place our reports and field trips regularly on this side but as this is a project funded entirely by German partners some of the documentation will also be in German I am afraid – at least until someone volunteers to do all the translation work.
This project is supported by: Ursula Merz Foundation