East Africa is globally renowned for its ‘Big 5’ species, found across the landscape in national parks such as the Selous, Serengeti and Mara in Kenya and Tanzania. These vast stretches of land that elephants, lions, leopards, rhinos and buffalo call home, like the miombo woodlands, savanna grasslands and coastal forests, often go unnoticed, yet they are full of outstanding varieties of wildlife and plants. It’s vital that we support conservation efforts in these landscapes to secure their futures for both people and nature.
The Selous landscape in south-eastern Tanzania is home to a wealth of coastal forests, woodlands and seascapes populated by animals such as elephants, rhinos, and whale sharks – as well as local communities.
WWF, together with Mpingo Conservation and Development Initiative (MCDI) and The Community Forest Conservation Network of Tanzania (MJUMITA), has been supporting local communities to conserve the forests in the area. Centred on four districts of Kilwa, Rufiji, Tunduru and Namtumbo in southern Tanzania, the work has resulted in tangible benefits for people and nature. As a result of our combined efforts, a total of 410,500 hectares of forest are now being dutifully managed by the communities living next to the forest areas – an area more than twice the size of London!
About 25% of these forests have now been certified under the Forests Stewardship Council Group Scheme (FSC) which means they have been independently audited to meet international and national agreed standards of responsible forest management, while also delivering socio-economic benefits for the community.
Our friends at Alpro have launched a special WWF edition of their chilled Soya Original drink and Soya Unsweetened drink to aid our efforts in continuing this vital work. For every one-litre pack sold in Tesco stores nationwide, 10p goes straight to our forest programme in East Africa. Here, we’re working to market lesser known timber species from the forests and woodlands in East Africa and testing for viable cosmetic ingredients in some plants, in order to help forest-dependent communities earn more income. There is an ongoing need to help develop community groups’ skills around business management, marketing and negotiation, and the funds from Alpro will help us equip people with the essential knowledge to grow their businesses in a responsible and sustainable way.
We have seen real benefits for people in the form of a better price for their timber and ecosystem services such as wild fruit, fibre, water and soil conservation. Between July 2016 and June 2017 alone, nine villages adjacent to the forests earned more than USD200,000 as a result of the scheme. This revenue has been used for community development projects and invested into the management of the forests. For example, funds have been used to purchase safety boots, first aid kits for the villages, build a village guesthouse, drill two boreholes and purchase school desks. All this makes a significant difference to this area, which is in a relatively poor region of Tanzania.
Hadija Makokoto, a 46 year old mother from Nainokwe Village, described the project in her own words: “The work by WWF and their partners has made a real difference to us. The income we received from selling timber was used to repair the community dispensary and to provide porridge to school children. My own father received free treatment at the dispensary.”
With poverty levels very high in the area, the jobs that have also come with project are very well appreciated. Halidi Ulala has been able to work as a timber harvester as a result of the project: “I have been able to earn income for my household in difficult times when I was hired to harvest timber. I bought 25kg of maize for my family with the money.”
To find out more about WWF’s work with Alpro, and to track the money being raised from the campaign, visit the WWF page on Alpro’s website.