Conserve, Reforest Kilimanjaro Ecosystem
Thanks to collaborative planning by leaders in Tanzania, we have a plan for a massive conservation program that can help us fight climate change, poverty and wildlife poaching. Our local partners have submitted several proposals to help address all of these issues simultaneously. This is one of the largest conservation and reforestation opportunities on the planet today. Carbon capture is one of the critical strategies in the fight against climate change.
The most effective carbon capture system in the world operates on photosynthesis. Forest conservation and reforestation can help us make the planet sustainable and communities more resilient.
Africa’s tropical belt is one of the most threatened ecosystems in the world. Millions of people across the continent have already been displaced due to drought, famine and conflict. Desertification has already taken its toll in northern regions and it’s creeping southward because of resource-hungry humans and climate change. The humanitarian crisis is adding to the environmental crisis. Without aggressive intervention, it will escalate and the ecosystem will collapse. It will take endangered species and cultures with it.
In Tanzania and elsewhere in Africa, investments from India and China have created an economic boom. This escalating economic disparity—including the entitlement of foreign investors, myths, cultural factors, and corruption—is driving a devastating trade in illegal wildlife parts, including elephant ivory, rhino horn and others. The demand for endangered species’ parts is rapidly driving them toward extinction.
Both the African elephant and the rhino could be poached into extinction within a decade, if drought and starvation don’t wipe them out first. Lions will go right behind them. The collapse will continue until the land won’t support man or beast. Containing this ecological and humanitarian disaster to Africa will be impossible. The entire world has a stake in saving this delicate ecosystem and others from collapse.
The entire planet must address the issues of overpopulation, deforestation, biodiversity, poverty, endangered species, sustainable agriculture and economic development. These complex issues are becoming more entwined every day.
Record Human Population: No one knows what the maximum occupancy is for our planet. Unfortunately, there is only one way to find out.
Deforestation: Deforestation is a widespread problem around the world and across Eastern Africa. Rising demand for charcoal results in a loss of some 575,000 hectares annually for fuel wood just in Tanzania. Fires, illegal harvesting and clearing for short-term millet production still contribute to deforestation.
Food and Water: The major effects of deforestation in Tanzania, for example, have been deterioration of ecological systems with negative impacts on soil fertility, water flows and biological diversity. Soil erosion has become a serious problem in many parts of the country, particularly in the central region. Sheet and gully erosion are widespread, rendering most of the land unproductive. Deforestation has also affected watersheds. There is extensive evidence of reduced dry season river flows and drying up of springs and groundwater. There also is increased sedimentation of rivers and dams and a greater frequency of dangerous and damaging flash floods.
The effects of deforestation are causing changes in weather patterns with few heavy rains across the region. Waters from the highlands of Mt. Kilimanjaro and Mt. Kenya are decreasing and millions of people below are dependent on that water for survival. It is predicted that ice on Mount Kenya will disappear in 30 years or less. Groundwater supplies have also been depleted because of reduced infiltration of rainfall into the soil caused by deforestation. The poor water quality and quantity has been associated with incidences of many waterborne diseases such as typhoid, diarrhea and cholera. The diminishing water table also is taking its toll on plants and trees.
Economic Disparity and Development: The depletion of forest resources is affecting the health of agriculture industries, not to mention the health of the people. Further decline could cost Kenya alone more than US$300 million per year, in terms of tourism, energy and agriculture. All efforts must be made now to reverse the economic threat.
Biodiversity and Extinction: Tanzania may have lost half its elephant population since 2007. It could be wiped out entirely in just seven years. Kenya’s wildlife also is under assault like never before. Adding to the crisis, there has been loss of wildlife habitat and biodiversity as a result of fragmentation and loss of critical ecosystem linkages and over-exploitation of the natural habitats. This loss of habitat brings humans and wildlife into more and more conflict over food, water and space–which means more bloodshed. Tanzania’s elephant population declined from an estimated 109,000 elephants in 2009 to around 70,000 in 2012. Around 30 elephants are killed for their ivory every day, almost 11,000 each year and rising. It’s estimated that more than 35,000 African elephants were killed for ivory in 2012. The number likely rose again in 2013 and will rise again in 2014.
The Selous Game Reserve, for example, has lost more than 80 percent of its elephants to poaching in the last six years. In 2007, it had an estimated 50,000 elephants. A recent census found just 13,084 elephants. “Tanzania has lost the majority of elephants in some of their most iconic national parks,” said Dr. Max Graham, a wildlife conservationist. “If they want a viable tourism product, they have to act very quickly—within the next 12-18 months. Otherwise, the elephants will be gone forever.” In addition, poachers killed at least 1,004 rhinos in Africa last year–a record toll that just keeps rising. At this pace, the rhino population will be pushed into extinction within a generation at most. Interventions across Africa are necessary and our partners in Africa can help.
Climate Change and Extreme Weather: Deforestation is responsible for approximately 20 percent of the contributions to global greenhouse gasses. That number does not account for the capacity of these forests to absorb ongoing carbon buildup in the atmosphere. This reforestation project can address climate change and resiliency for people and wildlife. Forests in Eastern Africa are rapidly declining due to pressure from rising populations and agricultural land uses. For example, about 50 million people live in Tanzania today. Even urban residents still use fuel wood and charcoal. Thus, Tanzania is still burning its forests at an alarming rate. To help reverse the negative deforestation trend in Tanzania and elsewhere across East Africa, we’re collaborating with regional NGOs, government leaders, community leaders and others to implement several comprehensive and integrated efforts to assure sustainability in the region. We’re working with locals across East Africa to promote economic development and sustainability simultaneously.
Mt. Kilimanjaro Project
An integrated reforestation, conservation and community education program. The Mellowswan Foundation Africa-Tanzania will start three large greenhouses (higher elevation) and nurseries. Land has already been donated to the project in Rombo district by the Rongai forest plantation authority. Rombo District Council has offered another nursery site. Both nursery sites are on the borders of Kilimanjaro National Park. Mountain climbers who take the Kinapa route will walk by one of the nurseries. The Moshi Municipal Council offered a third nursery plot for urban reforestation. Unlike past reforestation efforts in the region, we will focus on local needs and long-term sustainability of the new trees. Despite clear evidence that most villagers know what species they want, most foresters in the past ignored those preferences. For example, the Maasai are a unique pastoral group. They keep large numbers of livestock in a harsh environment to meet family subsistence needs. As they have explained, they need tree species that are suitable for their herds. (Full project detail available upon request.)
Tanzania National Economic Development Project
An integrated reforestation, conservation and community education campaign across the entire nation of Tanzania. Mellowswan Foundation Africa-Tanzania plans to expand its first project across all of Tanzania. This economic development program has been approved by The United Republic of Tanzania. The reforestation plan includes an area of 426,889,704 hectares across all six regions and 55 districts.
The government will commit more acreage for conservation of existing forests. We will work with government leaders and Village Natural Resources Committees (VNRC) about their responsibilities in all districts and regions. We will train them on the latest provisions and policies of the Forest Act, Environmental Act, Land Act, Wildlife Act and Water Act. We also will collect and distribute best practices from the VNRCs and other local and district leaders to share the knowledge for maximum impact.
The project also will include aquaculture, beekeeping, agroforestry, ecotourism, conferences, training, awards and community education. It also will promote strategies to reduce human-wildlife conflicts, including safekeeping livestock from predators and safeguarding crops from elephants. We also will develop several community centers that can be used for trainings, community events and tourism support.
In almost each district, we will plant timber trees, indigenous trees, trees to attract rainfall, trees that conserve groundwater tables, fruits, and commercial fruits such as clove, cocoa, palm, baobab, mango, guavas, avocados, etc. to benefit habitat, biodiversity and communities. We also will have an urban forestry program. In urban environments, street kids can harvest fruit for income and survival.
Tanzania is rich in National Parks and Game Reserves. There is still a conflict between cattle keepers and game reserves. The domestic animals, such as cattle and goats are penetrating to national parks searching for food.
We must dig water troughs for domestic animals to help protect wild animals from disease. In many areas, there are no rivers. We will need to drill wells for watering the nursery trees, but the right species can survive in these harsh environments once reestablished.
We will construct a training center where we will have conference halls and a hostel for visitors. This will help the sustainability of Mellowswan Foundation Africa and its ability to care for the deformed orphans. We also can rent out the conference hall to community members.
Plus, we are exploring the possibility of introducing biogas plants for those who keep animals and introducing “bio-latrines” for villagers.
We will build greenhouses to accelerate the growth cycle of our seedlings and to maximize our replanting capacity. We will staff them throughout the year to maximize production.
We will publicize the reforestation and conservation program locally at airports, hotels, national parks and game reserves so that visitors can visit and/or support the reforestation project. We will urge volunteers from around the world to come work side-by-side with us for eco-holidays and internships. We plan to work more cooperatively to promote wildlife tourism aggressively across the region and around the world.
The District Directors and Forest officers in Tanzania are very happy with this overall project and have offered to help in multiple ways. Such an economic stimulus can help take some of the pressures off of wildlife, especially endangered species such as the African elephant, rhinoceros, lions and others. Presently, wildlife traffickers can hire locals to poach elephants for just a few dollars. The tusks and horns are then smuggled to China, Vietnam, Thailand and other nations where they are worth billions on the black market. It will take several strategies to shut down this deadly supply and demand, but sustainable economic development in Africa can help address the problem, while providing a platform for more productive community engagement.
Our goal is to provide education and help indigenous people understand the importance of forests and all wildlife. The objective is to provide information about the ecosystem and how environmental factors are influenced by negative human activities, including deforestation and wildlife poaching. (Full detail available upon request.)
School-Based Reforestation Project
This reforestation project will be implemented by 20 schools, including students, teachers and parents, in Muleba District. The Eco-Schools project will plant at least 720,000 trees (fruit trees and multi-purpose trees for firewood, poles and shade) over 12 months. With full funding, we will plant two million trees over two years. Tree fruit production has a great potential for improving the income earnings, food security and living standards of poor people. On the global scale, considerable potential exists for Tanzania to increase fruit production and exploit export markets by capitalizing on the out of season markets in the temperate countries. The project aims to build the capacity of young farmers and school pupils and students, to engage in or upscale integrated fruit growing and agroforestry activities for improved food security and income generation for the school with minimum environmental risks. It seeks to foster income diversification and increased food production for self-sufficiency in terms of dietary and nutritional needs. Action for Ngono Basin Reforestation (ACT-NGONO) was formed in Muleba District-Tanzania in 2006. The organization is an official Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) in Tanzania. Its purpose is to protect the local environment while advancing health, education and economic growth in the wider local community. The organization has been involved in community based projects including, beekeeping, tree nursery development, and youth, women and community based environmental education. More than 10,000 people will benefit indirectly from the project through improved food security, nutrition and income generation. (Full proposal available upon request.)
Conserving Tanzania’s Otters
Otters are a top predator using both the terrestrial and aquatic environments and their loss has a profound impact on local food webs, biodiversity and habitat relationships. They need good water quality which is essential for all species, including our own, and so they are excellent environmental indicators. Otters are one of the most overlooked African mammal species, as most attention is directed towards endangered species such as elephants, rhinos, leopards and lions.
They may be hunted for fur and traditional medicine and many of these traditions have been carried out for centuries. Local medicine men still believe in the strength of otter products and although some will only use a small piece, others will take one otter for each “patient.” In some areas otters are eaten as bushmeat, although some tribes regard this as taboo. These traditions and customs are all part of the culture of certain African tribes and it is difficult in these circumstances to change attitudes. Somehow we have to show that traditions involving the use of wildlife for medicine and improving virility are no longer acceptable.
Habitat destruction is far more serious, especially as a result of the rapidly expanding human population. Plus, fishermen are poisoning otters to increase commercial fish catches. Therefore, it is important to involve communities in any conservation work as it will only work with the support of the people. In areas where there is conflict between otters and fishermen it is vital to meet personally in order to understand the extent of the problem.
To address these problems, the International Otter Survival Fund proposes a regional workshop for community leaders and stakeholders across sub-Saharan Africa. It will last for five days and will be a mix of classroom studies and discussion, and practical field work. This format has proved to be effective at previous such training workshops. Instructors will be volunteers from the IUCN-SSC Otter Specialist Group (OSG) and all instructors have agreed to provide their services free of charge Funding will be provided for students in order to make this a regional event.
Participants will come from all over sub-Saharan Africa, including Benin, Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, Rwanda, South Africa, Tanzania and Uganda, and several people including rangers and National Park ecologists have already expressed an interest. Funds will be provided to cover their costs. By encouraging participants in the workshop to develop projects with the community it is possible to find solutions to problems together.
Projects Benefit The Entire Planet
Each of these projects will make a lasting impact regionally and globally. These projects are comprehensive solutions with the scale necessary to make a meaningful difference on many levels:
On a global level, anything that we can do to reduce, if not reverse, deforestation will help us fight climate change around the world. Forests are the lungs of the earth and a place where carbon in the atmosphere is absorbed and locked away in the trees, roots and soil. It’s estimated that 20 percent of the buildup of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere is from deforestation releasing that carbon. The effect is doubled when you account for the loss of earth’s capacity to absorb even more carbon when these trees and forests are gone. If fully funded, these projects alone will plant more than 100 million trees in the first five years, while conserving millions of acres of existing forests.
Protect Biodiversity and Habitat.
East Africa is home to thousands of plant and animal species. Iconic species such as the African elephant, rhino, lion and others are under assault by poachers and farmers. If we can’t stop the killing, these animals will be extinct in the wild within 5-10 years. Saving these species and the overall biodiversity of the area will require a multidimensional effort around the world to curb the demand and to cut the supply. Part of that equation is economic disparity. As parts of Africa are ripped apart by war, drought and famine, displaced people are forced to survive in different ways and poaching wildlife for profits is one such alternative. Therefore, we need to help spread Africa’s economic development to areas where poaching is problematic. If we can help these communities survive and thrive, they will be better stewards and guardians of the wildlife and the habitat. In addition to stopping the poaching crisis immediately, we also need to preserve critical habitat for wildlife. If we win the battle against poaching, we are still facing a larger war that could kill these magnificent creatures from thirst and starvation.
Minimize Human and Wildlife Conflicts.
If environmental degradation continues, it will escalate conflicts between humans and wildlife. Such degradation also will contribute to more conflict among humans. Such conflicts will only escalate the downward spiral of the regional ecosystem.
Watershed Protection and Management.
The watersheds in East Africa are drying up. Locals need help learning how to conserve and manage their scarce resources. Reforestation can help fight erosion, hold moisture and rainwaters and help generate the cooling patterns that can help restore some localized rain patterns.
Promote Sustainable Communities.
The United Nations continues to emphasize the importance of sustainable cities and communities around the world, if we hope to have a sustainable planet. That philosophy goes down to even the smallest of villages across Africa. Natural resource depletion and human activity go hand in hand. If we hope to turn the situation in East Africa around immediately, and if we want to see lasting change, we need to implement plans that benefit local people.
Stakeholder Engagement & Involvement.
The community networks that we will develop will help the region address many issues including poverty, economic development, education, sustainable agriculture, eco-tourism, cultural tourism, health, nutrition, sanitation and other factors that can help improve the quality of life in the region, while promoting overall sustainability. We also will help communities become more resilient.
Teams, Timelines and Budgets
The Mellowswan Foundation Africa and Sacred Seedlings are collaborating with the United Republic of Tanzania. District Councils and Forestry Departments throughout Tanzania will help Mellowswan Foundation supervise the reforestation project, while involving community members. The Forestry and Beekeeping Departments will supervise, monitor and evaluate all field activities. The District Executive Director, Forestry Officer, Beekeeping Officer and Community Development Officers of the respective divisions will be involved throughout the project. Mellowswan Foundation Africa will gather assistance as necessary from District NGO networks. Mellowswan Foundation Africa is registered in Tanzania, with entitled certificate of incorporation ID. No.84760 on 21st, July 2011, under BRELA at Dar es salaam Tanzania. The parties to this proposal have been at the frontline of environmental conservation in each District.
- Project Scope: Nursery development. Reforestation. Agro-forestry. Urban forestry. Degraded lands and afforestation of lands around Kilimanjaro, Rombo, SIHA and Myeba Districts.
- Timeline: Four years to completion.
- Preliminary Budget: $1.2 million.
- Contact Person: Tumaini Mosha, Project Director, Co-Founder Mellowswan Foundation Africa-Tanzania.
The United Republic of Tanzania will be a partner in this massive initiative. We plan to reforest communities, cities and rainforest areas in partnerships with District Councils and civil service organizations throughout Tanzania. District Councils and Mellowswan Foundation Africa will direct and supervise the diverse economic develpment project. The project will cover six regions, including Mbeya, Morogoro, Dodoma, Kilimanjaro, Arusha and Mwanza. We will work in cooperation with government leaders, including Forest Reserves, District Directors, Community Development officers, Beekeeping officers, 50 regional and district NGO’s Networks and four Catholic congregations. The community will be involved at every stage of the project. We have a plan for 426,889,704 hectares in all six regions. We also have millions of hectares for conservation of existing forests.
- Project Scope: National Economic Development. Beekeeping. Aquaculture. Nursery development. Reforestation. Forest conservation. Community education. Citizen engagement. Wildlife tourism.
- Timeline: Five years to completion.
- Preliminary Budget: $335 million.
- Primary Contact: Tumaini Mosha, Project Director, Mellowswan Foundation.
Eco-Schools. ACT-NGONO will work in close collaboration with the local people in Muleba District, the District Forest Office, the Agriculture Office, local councils, administration and relevant agencies.
- Project Scope: Nursery development. Two million trees. Reforestation. Agro-forestry. Urban forestry. Eco-Schools. Degraded lands and afforestation of lands around Muleba District.
- Timeline: Two years to completion.
- Preliminary Budget: $100,000
Contact Person: Richard Bataringaya
The International Otter Survival Fund proposes to hold the first training workshop at the College of African Wildlife Management Mweka, Tanzania. Mweka is the only training institution in the region and has trained over 5,000 wildlife managers from 52 countries worldwide (28 African countries and 24 other countries in the world). By holding this workshop at Mweka we can encourage the College to incorporate training in otter work in their general curriculum for students from throughout Africa. This will therefore have far-reaching effects which will be ongoing. We will be working with the Tanzania National Parks Authority (TANAPA), the Tanzania Wildlife Research Institute (TAWIRI and the Tanzania Fisheries Research Institute (TAFIRI). We are also working closely with Jan Reed-Smith of the African Otter Outreach Project (AoTOP).
- Project Scope: Workshops, networks and capacity building.
- Timeline: July 27 through August 1, 2015.
- Preliminary Budget: $38,000
- Contact Person: Paul Yaxon
The first President of Tanzania, Mwalimu Julius K. Nyerere, recognized the integral part that wildlife plays in the country. In September 1961, at a symposium on the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources, he gave a speech that has become known as the Arusha Manifesto. The statement resonates across most of Africa today:
“The survival of our wildlife is a matter of grave concern to all of us in Africa. These wild creatures amid the wild places they inhabit are not only important as a source of wonder and inspiration, but are an integral part of our natural resources and our future livelihood and wellbeing. In accepting the trusteeship of our wildlife we solemnly declare that we will do everything in our power to make sure that our children’s grand-children will be able to enjoy this rich and precious inheritance. The conservation of wildlife and wild places calls for specialist knowledge, trained manpower, and money, and we look to other nations to cooperate with us in this important task – the success or failure of which not only affects the continent of Africa but the rest of the world as well.”
The situation was crystal clear to local leaders 50 years ago and it’s almost haunting to read Tanzania’s manifesto in the midst of the regional crisis today. Of course, it’s not just about wildlife. It’s not just about Africa. It’s about biodiversity and sustainability of the human race. We don’t have time to waste. Momentum is building against the web of life and we have an unprecedented chance to draw a line in the dirt in Africa. Some courageous visionaries in Kenya and Tanzania have stepped up with comprehensive plans that can make a difference. With your help, they are ready to make a difference that can span the globe.
Fight Climate Change. Defend Ecosystems.
Meet some of our team members in Tanzania: https://www.youtube.com/watch?