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At Zip we believe that it is our responsibility to help maintain the planet's resources. By supporting Trees for the Future we are actively reducing our environmental impact . . .
working towards a cleaner, greener world.
Our donations to the Fenchir nursery project in Ethiopia will be changing the lives of the people of this community through the reinvigoration of the land which sustains them. On this site we will show you the impact these contributions are having on the landscape and the daily lives of the people of the region as the project develops over the coming weeks .
"Zip brings warmth and comfort to many thousands of homes every year. The people of Rebu are struggling for the very basic requirements of food and shelter. In our busy lives, it is easy to forget how fortunate we are and that it is our duty to help those who are not as lucky as us. The passion, enthusiasm and dedication that TFTF show is an inspiration to all of us and we are proud to support the work that they are doing"
Terry Coates, MD Standard Brands
(producers of Zip firelighters)
TFTF have been working in Ethiopia with their local partners, Greener Ethiopia, since 2003. They are an active and influential presence in Ethiopia, having redeveloped large areas of forest and re-established a number of communities. In 2008, TFTF grew and distributed over 4 million seedlings for local farmers to plant on nearly 1500 hectares of degraded lands.
The success of the work in Ethiopia has received widespread support from the community, businesses and most importantly from the President of Ethiopia. Zip began actively supporting TFTF in June 2009 and are currently working with Katbare nursery and to establish a new nursery in the village of Fenchir, which lies on the Rebu River about 150km southwest of Addis Ababa.
Many factors have contributed to Ethiopia's cycle of poverty. Years of unsustainable land-use practices and the pressure of an increasing population has led to severe land degradation throughout the country. Fenchir is no exception. The poor quality of the land reduces agricultural productivity and fodder production for livestock, forcing people to farm and graze the land even more intensively to sustain themselves, and so the problems worsen.
TFTF are breaking this destructive cycle by rehabilitating the land. To meet the long-term challenges faced by the rural communities where they work, the tree planting program is focused on implementing systems that restore the land to provide long-term sustainable productivity. At the same time this planting yields edible fruits, livestock forage, medicinal plants and wood for fuel and construction purposes.
We strongly believe, particularly in agriculture-based economies such as Ethiopia, that planting trees to increase land productivity and encouraging people to use their land more sustainably is the best way to improve their lives both now and in the future.
See the project diary to find out what is happening in Fenchir now.
TFTF work with farmers and community groups in Fenchir and the surrounding areas, as their full participation in the projects is crucial to the success of the project.
Since June 2009, when we started supporting the project, more than 1 million seedlings have been raised in our Nurseries. These seedlings were distributed to communities in the area and planted to restore degraded lands, increase agricultural productivity and provide products life fuel wood, fodder, timber and food.
Our contributions are helping support the development of TFTF's on-site training and support programme allowing over 50 community members, both male and female, to participate in training activities throughout 2012.
The University of Addis Ababa will also be studying the results of looking at planting combinations, seedling and tree species performance, fruit vegetable and livestock production, water retention and quality and carbon mitigation. Its success will then pave the way for other community projects all over Ethiopia.
At the end of 2011, an agreement was finalised to establish a new nursery in the village of Fenchir, which lies along the banks of the Rebu River about 150km southwest of Addis Ababa. Though we have planted seedlings with the community of Fenchir in the past two years in Katbare nursery, until now we have been unable to start a full project with them.In the facinity of the village of Fenchir, fuel wood collection and overgrazing are extremely problematic here and lead to severe land degradation. Providing sustainable sources of wood and fodder which can be obtained from around their households, not only saves families time and resources but also takes pressure off of existing forests and productive land.
The products which are not used within the household can be sold in local markets to generate much needed income. Some of the farmers who began working with us a few years ago are now making more money from selling fruit and fuel wood, for instance, than they have ever made before.
This income is used to pay their children’s school fees, buy supplies and clothes and invest in small business ventures. This is the type of sustainable livelihood development we are trying to achieve with all of our participants.
In December, after being allocated land for the nursery, work began on clearing and preparing this land for seed beds. At the same time, the nursery manager, experienced in raising seedlings provided training for community members on nursery establishment and management.
Clearing land for the Fenchir Project Laying out seedbeds in Fenchir
Work also began on training local communities on various soil and water conservation techniques, including finding contours on sloped land and building stone and stick check dams, soil bunds and terraces in order to slow down the movement of soil and water.
Training on Soil and Water Conservation in Fenchir
The majority of the training is practical and being undertaken to restore degraded areas in and around Fenchir.
Later in the year, the community will further learn how to supplement and reinforce these structures by planting different trees, shrubs and grasses. This added vegetation will not only further control erosion and improve infiltration of runoff water but will also help to improve the soil’s health whilst providing useful products like fodder, fuel wood and posts.
In the Rebu area, Katbare and this new nursery will be the primary nurseries used to raise seedlings. For 2012, Trees for the Future are involving community members in establishing nurseries and seedling product in their own communities.
In association with the Guraghe Zonal offices of Agriculture and Rural Development and of Finance and Economics, government offices, Greener Ethiopia, Trees for the Future and Katbare are now in the process of identifying the communities where trees will be planted this year. These trees will be for food, fodder and fuel wood production, and others will be planted to restore degraded areas, to increase yields in their fields and gardens by protecting gardens from animals, wind and by controlling soil erosion.
After a year of hard work by the dedicated team, all 750,000 trees from the Cheha nursery have been planted! It is an amazing achievement and we are all proud to see our seedlings now in the ground.
Visit the gallery to see more of our most recent pictures of the team planting out the seedlings.
Whilst this is fantastic news it is not the end, there is still much more to do. In the coming months we will be training our new technicians and development agents on best practices for agroforestry and nursery management. They will be going out to the communities to extend this training to other farmers and community groups.
What do the people in Rebu really think about the project?
Bedru Ahmed is a small-hold farmer living in Fenchir. He has been working on the project since it began in 2009 and both pleased and grateful for the work that is going on. He has spent a lot of time with the TFTF team to understand the benefits of the new trees and is really looking forward to seeing improved crop production from the nutrient rich soil that is being protected by the newly planted trees. He is excited about the coming year, and looking forward to learning new ways to work with the land, and getting involved with planting the next nursery.
Bedru is particularly looking forward to trying the leaves from the Moringa tree, as he knows it will be good for him and his family.
Moringa contains more than 90 nutrients and 46 types of antioxidants.
We also spoke to Habtamu Lewute, Development Agent for the Office of Agriculture and Natural Resources.
Habtamu is the team leader of the three development agents that are working with our project in Fenchir. He has been very helpful in mobilizing the community to participate in the planting activities, and will play a key role in the trainings and other activities we have planned for the near future.
What do you think about the project?
“It's very good. They are facing lots of problems there due to shortage of trees and erosion. This is good for the community and three or four years from now they will see many changes and the area will be covered by green-desert changed to forest”.
What impact do you expect it to have on the people of Rebu?
“The farmers' mindset will be changed. They will know how to improve their land. I want to see every person who cuts one tree to plant at least ten. People will be educated about the causes of their problems. This year individual farmers might be planting 100 trees each, but I hope that next year and years to come, they will be planting 1000 each.”
What are you particularly enjoying at this stage?
“I like living and working with the farmers, talking to them, and convincing them of the importance of using the land more sustainably.
What are you most looking forward to?
“I am 100% excited to continue with the project. He said the aim of the project is to make Ethiopia healthy. This is necessary, he said, and he looks forward to doing this at a larger scale next year. He said this is just the beginning-we will continue until they can all do it for themselves.”
In October we will begin nursery preparation for the next planting season and by this time next year there will be another million trees planted in and around Rebu. These trees are transforming the land and continuing to improve the lives of the people working so hard to rejuvenate their world.
It has been an eventful year leading up to this, but it is finally time to plant the trees! The rainy season is here, and everyone is hard at work distributing and planting seedlings. Some trees are already being planted in Cheha (where Harmony Farms Nursery is) and over the next few weeks the rest will be planted in Goro (just north of Rebu) and in Welkite (just south of Rebu).
Many of the benefits from the soil improvement, erosion control, fodder and wood will come within the next year. Benefits from windbreaks and food production take a couple more years. With the increased number of fruit trees and produce that these will provide, the communities will be able to sell surplus for additional income which is often used to send their children to school or buy school supplies, clothes, etc.
The cycle of regeneration is now taking effect and the hopes and hard work of the community will soon be rewarded with tangible results.
Fantastic progress continues to be made. In the photo you can see rows of bags, each containing one of the 750k seedlings we have already planted at our nursery in Cheha, on the north side of the river. We are in the process of building shade structures to protect them from the elements and will soon be preparing for the planting out season that will run through June and July. These trees will mark a new beginning for many of the people in Rebu as the first tangible stage in the rejuvenation of the land they rely on.
The species chosen are all multi-purpose, fast-growing species that will provide countless benefits both to the environment and to the people who are planting them. So far we have planted 13 species, including Mimosa, Leucaena and pigeon pea, which are great ‘pioneer’ species. These are the first to be planted in the degraded lands to control erosion by fixing nitrogen in the soil. When their nutrient rich leaves fall and decompose, they enrich the soil and provide food for micro-organisms like worms and millipedes. These organisms bore tunnels through the soil, allowing air and water to penetrate, improving its quality. As the soil is repaired it becomes capable of supporting other trees and plants and the positive cycle of regeneration begins.
But controlling the erosion is not all that these species do. Some, like Jacarand and Moringa, will be used as live fences to protect gardens from grazing animals or for windbreaks or shade. Many, including Riverbean and Mexican Cypress, can be used as forage supplement for livestock to improve milk and meat production, particularly in the dry season when forage is scarce.
The trees also provide a more sustainable source of fuel for the people of Rebu. Most of these species can be harvested regularly, without killing them, helping to control deforestation. This readily available supply also saves the women and children of the community many hours each week as they no longer have to search out decreasing supplies.
The people around the Rebu River will be affected by the positive effects of these trees within their first year of planting, and as the trees grow – the benefits continue to grow with them.
We are filled with hope for this project, and progress to date gives us every reason to view this first year in Rebu as a success, and one on which we can build, improving the lives and surroundings of the communities on both sides of the Rebu river.
Like Europe, there are a number of holidays that fall in December and January – so it has been a very festive few weeks. But even with these festivities going on, the hard work continues. The Rebu nursery preparation is coming along well. The nursery has now been divided into sections, each of them separated and surrounded by trees. They have been cleaned and cleared, and the volunteers are now preparing the soil for bare root seedlings and marking out the rows for the potted seedlings.
This week we transplanted some vetiver and napier grasses from another nursery, which will also be cultivated at Rebu. These grasses have an incredible ability to bind soil in their fibrous roots as well as to prevent it from washing past them, and so are a great natural complement to the trees in erosion control systems.
Alongside the work that is going on building the nursery we also have to plan where the trees will go once they are ready to transplant. We are visiting/evaluating some of our past project sites, and making more plans for the coming year. Our seedlings will be used to expand some of these existing tree-planting projects as well as starting new ones throughout the extensive project area. Many of the seedlings will be planted by community groups and youth clubs to restore eroded and overgrazed land and to protect watershed areas, others will be for farmers and households to plant in their fields and gardens.
It is great to be able to see the progress now. We are moving past the initial discussion and planning phases and into the practical side of planting and growing. Now more of the community can actively get involved and you can see the support for the project growing more and more every day.
We had a productive meeting with the local agricultural agency, along with community leaders and the youth group from Rebu last week. The leaders will be helping us with the planning of the forest garden layout along with other planting projects, and the youth group (mainly young adults) will be the primary group involved with building the fences and planting the forest garden and live fences.
One of the specific interests the community leaders had was bee keeping. I talked to Abdulwaheed, the bee keeping trainer for Harmony Farms, and he agreed to facilitate a training for them as part of our overall training program. Beekeeping is a great complimentary project to the forest garden, as the tree and vegetable flowers will provide food for the bees, the bees will pollinate the vegetables and fruits, and the community can produce, eat and sell the honey - it fetches a high price on the local market.
Talks are well underway and, working with partner organisation, Greener Ethiopia, over the last month we have met with both government and community stakeholders. The response has been really positive- it’s going to be a fantastic project that we are all excited to be a part of.
Last week we spent a few days visiting some of our nurseries and past tree planting sites in the Gurage Zone. While there we met with some of the stakeholders from the government and community around Rebu, as well as Merkebu, our technician in the area, to discuss and further develop the implementation plan for the Rebu project.
This week, several people from the community near Rebu are clearing off land to prepare the new nursery site. There is quite a bit of work that needs to be done to get it up and running. Here, we will grow the seedlings that will be used to begin the forest garden and to reforest some of the river bank and the degraded lands in the area. This nursery should have the capacity to produce around half a million seedlings this year.
We still have a few months before the bulk of the nursery work needs to commence, so in that time we will meet with the community to decide which species are most appropriate and beneficial for them. Depending on the degree to which the community can uphold protection measures, we may also need to build some fences around some of the reforestation areas. These would be helpful in protecting the land from grazing animals that would otherwise eat the seedlings.
Most of the seedlings will not be started in the nursery until early Spring. When the rains begin, hopefully in June, they will be ready for transplanting into the fields.
In the meantime, we will continue to develop plans for the training center. This is a very important component of the project, used to facilitate workshops on sustainable development practices. Through the training program, ideas and concepts for sustainable development will be put into practice. It is this type of grassroots community development that leads to better livelihoods for the people involved, as well a healthier environment and a more promising future – it is a great thing to be a part of.
Welcome to the Rebu Project diary. Over the coming months we will update you on our plans and the progress that we are making.
At this time of year we focus on planning and training, as we cannot begin nursery preparation until the spring (usually March) - but this doesn't mean that we are relaxing!! Everything is building towards tree planting season which starts in July (the second rainy season), but there is lots to do before then.
This month and next, the focus will be on talking to the surrounding communities about the implementation of the project. This will involve officially acquiring the land from the local government, and working out agreements so that the land will belong to the communities and can be managed and protected by them.
The groundwork for these projects is huge, gaining the trust and respect of the community as well as motivating to get involved. The challenge of getting them to believe and commit to the project is essential to the project's overall success.