Mountain farmers and savannah pastoralists: conserving sustainable livelihoods in East Africa
Mount Meru is a sleeping volcano that is part of the Arusha National Park protected area. It is one of the most threatened ecosystems in the world and is part of the 25 Global Biodiversity Hotspots (Conservation International). Its highland forest is rapidly disappearing, and so are the savannah ecosystems threatened by human activities. Subsistence rangers and small-scale farmers coexist along the Arusha-Longido ecological corridor, one of the most biodiverse ecosystems on Earth. We are committed to protect it by actively involving local communities in the sustainable management of the area.
We are working to protect 15,000 hectares of savannah and two community forests by training 20 forest rangers, in order to reduce illegal activities such as tree cutting and poaching, and 20 women rangers guardians. This is a rangeland restoration programme (50 hectares in total) led by women. It foresees simple and replicable solutions such as the creation of 10 nurseries, the production and planting of 2,500 seedlings, and the installation of 50 live fences. Concrete actions aimed at increasing the fertility of the land and thus improving the livelihood of agro-pastoral communities.
Awareness is the first step for any conservation initiative. For this reason, we promote education and awareness raising initiatives in the communities and in particular in schools: we will organize educational trips and theatre performances with 3,000 students in the area.
At the same time, we focus on promoting green business activities that can provide the community, especially women, with sustainable economic alternatives. These include a beekeeping business consisting of 100 beehives, the training of 10 new tour guides and the assistance for the renovation of Mkuru, a tented camp that serves as an educational centre and ecotourism destination.
The promotion of these initiatives represents a virtuous circle. The protection of the territory allows to reduce the spiral of degradation and poverty for a community of 20 thousand people. Their survival depends on the health of local natural resources.
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