Attached are some photographs showing our reforestation project which we started in 1999. We grow indigenous trees from seed and plant them out in areas around us, which have been deluded of forest. Sometimes we sell our seedlings and also give them away to schools to encourage the children to become interested in reforestation. For the latest information, please visit: http://www.trees4moz.org/
It is our hope to expand our project to include the local people living around us to grow trees instead of cutting them down to make charcoal. However this is going to be a difficult one, as we will have to pay them to do so. They supplement their meager incomes by making charcoal and therefore will need to get something to make growing trees worth their while.
For some time now, my husband and I have been trying to form an association here to educate and encourage not only young but all Mozambicans about protecting their rapidly vanishing forests and wildlife. However, this has turned into a real struggle and I thought you might be interested in hearing how difficult - and dangerous - it is to try and save and protect in this part of the world.
My husband and I are British and for the last sixteen years have lived and worked in an indigenous miombo forest about 40 kilometres from the town of Chimoio in Manica Province, Mozambique.
Between 1995 and 2005, we estimate that about 30 000 hectares of this hardwood forest was completely destroyed by the population who were allowed to enter into and chop it down to open machambas (fields) to grow maize and to turn the trees into charcoal for sale in the towns. (Most people in urban areas don't have electricity, so have to use charcoal to cook their food).
Only small areas, dotted around here and there, now remain of this once beautiful forest.
One of these small remnants is the 28 hectares of original forest around our house. This was all that we were able to save - not without a great struggle, I might add - and even this is still under threat.
This small forest which we call the Nhamacoa as it is on the banks of the Nhamacoa River, now teems with all sorts of animals; Samango and vervet monkeys, night apes, buck, genet and civet wildcats, rock leguaans, etc., as well as reptiles and birds that fled into our trees for refuge when their habitat was destroyed by the people. Sadly, their survival depends solely on our continued presence here.
To raise funds to continue to protect this little forest and its inhabitants, we asked our lawyer to form us into a non-profit association. He told us that it would take one month to do so and that it would cost us U.S.$ l,000 (500 U.S. Paid to him up front). Well, we paid him up front and TWO YEARS LATER, we are still waiting to be registered!!
We then decided to put our films of the forest and its animals and birds onto the Internet in the form of a video blog in the hope of raising interest. We were helped by Lee Shoniwa, a young Zimbabwean refugee, who edited our films and our cook Douglas, also a Zimbabwean refugee.
You might find our video no. 8 'The Death of a Forest' particularly interesting as well as our video no. 7, 'Help! We have an explosion of monkeys!'
Unfortunately,our blog came to an abrupt end on the night of 5th December, 2010 when we were all attacked in our house in the forest by 7 bandits armed with an AK-47, a pistol and machetes.
The attack was extremely violent and we were lucky not to have been killed.
The bandits were caught soon after by the clever detective work of one of our Mozambican friends and it turned out that members of the Chimoio police had been working with them, renting out arms, ammunition and police uniforms to them.
However, this was not to be the end of them..
Two weeks later, we received a warning from one of the locals that made our blood run cold. Six MORE bandits had come looking for us, with revenge in mind!
Abandoning our house in the forest, we fled into hiding with a friend.
Poor Douglas came off the worst. In January, 2010, he went back to Zimbabwe to visit his family for a week. As the bandits had taken his wallet and his I.D., he had to cross the border using the smugglers route and here he was set upon by Zimbabwean soldiers who beat him up so brutally that he ended up in Chimanimani hospital for two weeks. He never came back to work for us and we miss him tremendously.
From this, you can see how difficult conservation is here. However, we are still here and continue our work.
We have asked many, many times for help from various conservation organisations, including the United Nations Environment Programme but, disappointingly, have never even had so much as an acknowledgement of our requests from them.
As a result, we have had to continue to use our own dwindling resources.
If we all united and helped each other, perhaps more could be achieved to save our planet and the wonderful creatures living on it.
We really need all the help and all the publicity we can get.
· Date: April 30, 2012 · Views: 2883 · File size:26.8kb, 138.0kb · Dimensions: 512 x 384 ·