What’s the Kilimanjaro region worth? How about the entire ecosystem of Kenya, Tanzania and all of East Africa? What will it mean to millions of people and critically endangered species–including elephants, rhinos and lions–if this vital ecosystem collapses?
Deforestation, drought and wildlife poaching make this ugly premise a real possibility. Further losses of biodiversity will change the region forever. Further climate change will make the watershed unsustainable for people and wildlife across several countries. The snows of Kilimanjaro are almost gone.
To help avert this threat, we’re leading one of the largest reforestation efforts in all of Africa. We have lined up several stakeholders and projects to help reforest these nations, while fighting climate change and the loss of habitat for endangered species. As an economic development program, we will create hundreds of jobs that can help alleviate the economic pressures that are driving endangered species such as the elephant and rhino into extinction.
Phase I of this effort will reforest the foothills and lowlands surrounding Mt. Kilimanjaro on the Tanzania side with 10 million trees over the next five years. The work has been approved by the Government of The United Republic of Tanzania. The Forest Department will play a pivotal role in the supervision and implementation of the project. Mellowswan Foundation Africa-Tanzania has coordinated the visioning and planning. It will continue to coordinate the effort.
In subsequent phases, the Tanzania project is scalable to include the entire nation (all six districts) in a comprehensive and sustainable economic development plan. More than one billion acres have been identified for reforestation and conservation. Of course, that means that we have an opportunity to plant and conserve millions and millions of trees. That means jobs, habitat, watersheds, wildlife and hope. The vision for this phase also includes beekeeping, aquaculture, agroforestry and additional economic development strategies.
These reforestation projects are the first step of a global program that will help fight climate change and poverty, while helping protect endangered species from loss of habitat and rampant wildlife poaching in both Tanzania and Kenya.
In addition, the projects will include community education and other strategies to help conserve trees and wildlife. For example, Earth Keepers plans to develop fences with bee hives to help keep elephants away from villager’s crops. When elephants invade crops, people and elephants have been killed, so this is another strategy to promote coexistence and biodiversity.
“The Mellowswan Foundation approached us and asked if we could help save the country’s vanishing wildlife,” said Gary Chandler, co-founder of Sacred Seedlings. “We asked if they could support a reforestation program to generate jobs, save wildlife habitat and help combat climate change?”
The Foundation and other NGO’s seized upon the idea and started developing the scope of work for multiple projects. Once funded, local teams will work with forestry officials to build several nurseries and greenhouses to launch the project. After about four months, the seedlings will be planted permanently in a variety of settings, including deforested areas around national parks and forest districts. Crop-bearing trees will be planted in urban areas to serve as weather barriers and to generate food for the locals. These trees will be too valuable for anyone to cut down.
In addition, Tanzania and Kenya are ground zero in the war on wildlife. More than 10,000 elephants were slaughtered in Tanzania alone for ivory just last year. Only about 70,000 elephants remain in that country today. The same plight is happening in Kenya and elsewhere in Africa.
Without a variety of interventions, extinction of the African elephant, rhinoceros, lions and other endangered species is probable within just a few years. Economic development with clean and green jobs is one way to help take the pressure off of these animals, while helping the local people earn a living. Plus, deforestation is responsible for about 20 percent of the rise in greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.
“We’re tracking down sponsors, grants and donors to help make this program possible,” Chandler said. “We need about $1.2 million to cover the first 10 million trees. The scope of work now includes five nations with plans that can make an impact on many levels, including global and regional climate change.”
This will be the first of several reforestation projects around the world. The company is adding projects in Ecuador and Nicaragua now.
“The Tanzania project will incorporate several species of trees that are indigenous to the area,” said Tumaini Mosha, project director for Mellowswan Foundation Africa-Tanzania. “Crop-bearing trees such as coffee, cocoa and palm also will be grown and planted in urban areas to block buildings from the weather and to grow food. That way people won’t cut them down for firewood.”
For more information, please visit: http://sacredseedlings.com/tanzania-project/