It’s Monday 14th May 2007 and the tree planting project


It’s Monday 14th May 2007 and the tree planting project

Last November, during Jo’s time at the annual UK trade show, she became very aware of the whole “Carbon” issue. She had a great idea – calculate the carbon consumption of RPS and then offset it. She wanted to develop a formula that could then be used by other Zambian safari companies. How wonderful it would be to say “Zambia’s Safari Industry is carbon neutral”. Imagine the concept of African tourism being carbon neutral!! Well big ideas, but you know Jo. I was given the task of investigating how all this could be achieved.

After many emails with carbon neutral companies, I came up against a brick wall. As soon as they discovered that we were not going to “buy” offsets (most of these are tree projects!) from them but try to develop our own, their interest in our project quite naturally faded away. However, we decided that step one was to start a tree nursery with the Nsefu community planting 1000’s of trees. All was going well until the flood put paid to this first attempt and although this has been the lowest of the flood recovery projects it has been rebooted. This week we moved the nursery to ROJO (Robin and Jo’s house).

The Flood Survivors

The Flood Survivors

Robin's First Baobab

Robin’s First Baobab

To keep the community interested in the project I have designed a plan that will involve a combination of indigenous species, fruit trees, and agro-forestry species. The idea is that we will not only help to reduce carbon, but also help to reforest the Nsefu area and create a lasting benefit to the communities as a whole.

Most of the indigenous species will be used as part of the reforestation part of the project in which we will plant species that are fast growing and popularly used for firewood and building, etc. to replace trees that have been cut down and to try and reduce the further deforestation of the Nsefu area. During my research I got learn quite a bit about trees and one interesting fact I learned was trees tend to release carbon when they are first planted and only offset a small amount of carbon in the first couple of years, so fast growing trees are not ideal for carbon offset projects as they will not make a significant difference for the short time that they are in the ground and will ultimately most likely be used for something which will release more carbon.

The fruit trees and agro-forestry species are trees which will be used for the carbon offset portion of the project. These trees are all species which will benefit the local community and so hopefully will not be cut down. There are also some indigenous fruit trees which we will try to concentrate on using. Looking to plant variety of fruit trees which will contribute to overall health of the community, Neem, a plant which has a large array of uses and can also help to increase the fertility of the soil, Jatropha, which can be used to create an alterative fuel source (can be used to make bio-gas, but also can be pressed and oil can be used in lieu of paraffin), to name a few.

In addition to the tree planting projects, we are also looking into trying out solar cooking methods. The usage of solar stoves will significantly reduce the amount of firewood that is used by each household and therefore reduce carbon emissions as well as slow the deforestation process. It will also save the women the agony of collection and facing the wrath of local forestry officers hell bent on getting payment for their efforts!

Although all a bit technical we are really looking forward to getting the project up and running. Kawaza Basic School and Nsefu School have already designated land for their nurseries and are planning to start clearing this week. It will be a great opportunity for the kids to learn more about trees and also to contribute to the environment and the community.

Sacred Ibis

And for some light hearted news from the bush here is a nice little tale written by one of the 2 honeymoon couples we had in camp this week, Neil and Shona Godefroy:

One thing about being on our first safari, and not least our honeymoon, is that we rely on the expert knowledge of our guides and particularly enjoy their infectious enthusiasm.

Imagine our delight today, when we experienced what our guide Masumba described as his most fabulous sighting this year (and as we are now in mid-May this was quite something)!

Waiting patiently close to a lagoon, about a mile from Nkwali, we happened upon an african darter perched on a tree. Masumba explained that the darter, when in the lagoon, resembles a snake and then dives to catch fish and can be under water for some thirty seconds. On cue the darter left his branch for the security of the lagoon, then “snake-like” dived, re-emerging some 30 seconds later with a tilapia ( I think!), which he promptly dropped. Then he dived again, surfacing across the lagoon with another fish!

KuduLion and Lioness

We had a fabulous day with many excellent sightings including a collared palm thrush, dwarf bittern, goliath heron, a close up of a male kudu, and a pair of sleeping lions. This was of course amongst many other great sightings we had.

I think Masumba and his fellow guide Benjamino (as Masumba calls him) had as good a day as we did. It certainly was a day for us to remember on our honeymoon.

Have a great week!

Cheers,
Amanda

For more information on the tree project and how you can help, please contact me on amanda(at)robinpopesafaris.net

Sunset

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