Weʼre raising £20,000 to Plant trees and provide income in one of the poorest countries on the planet
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Malawi suffers from one of the highest rates of deforestation in the world - it has lost 85% of its forests in the last 30 years, and yet, 90% of the people still rely on firewood and its derivatives for cooking and for heating - What is going to happen when there is no more wood? It is a scary thought and it is going to happen if we don't do anything - so we are trying.
We came to Malawi as economic migrants, as in, we came in part because Malawi afforded us a lifestyle that we could never aspire to in the West and in part because I had family here, so our reasons for coming were entirely self-centred. We came to Zomba and we now own and manage wwww.zombaforestlodge.com . Our background is in hospitality, not conservation but are learning all the time.
Business-wise, we don't want to lose the trees, we would otherwise be Zomba Lodge - it doesn't have the same ring to it! And ethically, how can we sit around and do nothing whilst the people around here lose their livelihoods?! And when you get to know the people, even as a visitor to Malawi, you realise just how warm, friendly and generous the Malawians are - we would be monsters if we were to turn a blind eye.
And so we set up Zomba TREEZ . It all started 3 years ago with the agreement from the Forestry Department that we could plant trees in the water catchement areas. Our priorities were twofold: to protect the water table from dropping further and providing the communities with trees that would be valuable to them: fruit trees, fast growing trees that could be coppiced, but also nitrogen fixing trees. We aim eventually to be able to provide bee hives in some of the newly planted areas, but also the exisiting areas as a further source of income for the villagers around. And this year we are going to be building our first solar dryers, a means to be able to preserve the excess fruit in the times of plenty.
So far we have planted over 18,000 trees but it is work in progress - we hope to grow the project as the need is so desperate but we can't do it alone.
So why £20,000 you may ask? Yes it is a lot but tree planting does not come cheap. The seedlings needs to be bought, the land needs to be prepared, the trees need to be planted, they need to be maintained thoughout the rainy season as otherwise they could be swamped by other faster growing plants - and then in the dry season, they need to be protected from fires. Fires rage across the country every year and every year Malawi loses thousands of trees so it is vital to be able to protect these little guys until they are old enough to fend for themselves. In our case this means sponsoring 2 football teams to help with patrolling, the creation of fire-breaks and fire-fighting, buying tools for the Tour Guides on the Plateau who also help, the Forestry Department who need supplementing, the football teams and for various groups of women who help with the tree planting and maintenance.
To give you more concrete examples:
To plant and maintain 1 hectare (around 1320 trees) costs £500. Each year for the past 3 years, we have been planting an average of 6 hectares and maintaining the new and the old ones: That is £3,000 just for new trees each year.
The fire season costs, including the sponsorship of the teams, tools and training are around £3,000. And if you think about it: 6 hectares really isn't that much - we need to be planting so many more. And the good thing about it is that most of the money is fed into the local economy so the communities around us are not only benefitting more stable water levels, decreased soil erosion, sustainable sources of wood, etc but also additional income :)
And then to help us with our project, we need to replace our dying pick-up. We need a new "tree ambulance": a 4x4 that can ferry people to the fires on the mountain as quickly as possible, a truck that can move the seedlings from A to B. And we are not looking for anything smart -we just want a reliable pick-up that can work for and with us :)
But we are not sitting here doing nothing whilst we wait for someone to donate some money: all dinners and lunches from non-resident guests are donated to TREEZ, we have lovely guests who have and continue to help and we have friends and family who contribute too but always need more.
This year and hopefully every year from now on, we are holding a Run 4 Reforestation to help with the project. All the proceeds will go towards Zomba TREEZ. It consists of 3 races: a 5km, a 10km and a 21km on and around the Plateau - It will be very exciting! Each participant will pay an entrance fee to help fund the race and there will cash prizes for the winners and kindly donated goodies (T-shirts, beer coolers, mbaulas, chitenji bags, a seedling and a raffle ticket) for all the participants, as well as amazing prizes for a raffle.
Ultimately, whether you want to help a poor country or not, whether you are into conservation or not, if you want to stay alive, we need trees. Thank you so much for taking the time to read all this and for any small amount you may be tempted to donate :) As one of my favourite organisations posted the other day:
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Aug 21, 2018
Wishing you the best Tom, Petal, and Zomba Forest Lodge team! Thanks for doing this work.
Aug 20, 2018
Your worthwhile project is close to my heart
Tim and Gill Cox
Aug 20, 2018
Great work - wishing you every success in reaching your targetTim and Gill Cox (neighbours of Stuart and Judith)
Aug 20, 2018
Best wishes with your tree planting project. I'm concerned about climate change so very much believe in this project - excellent work.
Aug 18, 2018
May the forest keep growing....
Aug 18, 2018
Aug 18, 2018
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