New Year greetings from the people of Kwale!
I hope your festive season was as fulfilling as ours. For me it was good to spend plenty of time with family.
Looking ahead to the rest of 2013, I’m sure that together we can achieve great things. Your support, through the Size of Wales initiative, really helped us to achieve remarkable things last year.
In 2012 we raised a huge amount of funds, planted more than 200,000 seedlings, fought plans to mine in the Mrima sacred forest, helped local groups lobby the Government to put more effort into conservation – and even saw one of our ecotourism projects win a national award!
But of course, there is of course still plenty we can learn and just before Christmas I went on a study visit to Tanzania, taking 22 community members, government officials and WWF staff.
The trip south was a rare opportunity to share lessons and experiences across the two countries. Tanzania, while similar to Kenya, is also a pioneer in joint forest management, where communities are seen as co-managers and owners of forest projects.
We travelled to various conservation hotspots including East Usambara Mountains, the world renowned Amani Forests Reserve and the Rujifi and Kilwa Districts of Southern Tanzania.
We met several different groups including those involved in sustainable charcoal production, community village banks and wildlife management areas.
It was interesting to see that that groups in both countries faced common challenges, such as a lack of training for those borrowing from the community banks and the need for law enforcement to tackle competition from cheaper charcoal which is produced unsustainably or illegally.
One of the key lessons of the visit was that communities enjoy learning from each other, take time to understand each other and offer each other suggested solutions to the challenges facing them.
I hope that in the year ahead we can achieve even more, putting what we learned in Tanzania into practice to help protect our precious forests.