Reforestation

East Africa's Albertine Rift landscape is a diverse ecosystem that provides a prominent habitat for many rare plants and animals, like endangered chimpanzees. It houses over 50% of the birds, 39% of the mammals, 19% of the amphibians, and 14% of the reptiles and plants found in mainland Africa. However, these forests face a multitude of threats that contribute to wide-spread degradation. Over the last 25 years, millions of hectares of forest have been lost due to the increasing impact of human settlement, large and small scale agriculture, logging, and fire.

After years of upheaval in the 1990s, millions of Rwanda’s people living in rural areas suffered from poverty and food insecurity. 78% of the country’s forests disappeared as the country worked to resettle refugees and rebuild infrastructure. To restore both the land and economic opportunity for rural communities, entrepreneur Norce Elysee Gatarayiha founded Norelga Macadamia.

In Malawi, food insecurity and malnutrition are increasingly relevant concerns for the rapidly growing population. 51.8 percent of Malawians experience severe food insecurities and in 2019, 3.4 million people were undernourished. What’s more, nearly 80 percent of Malawians rely on agriculture for their livelihoods, leading to a deforestation-causing land crunch.

In Nyeri, Kenya, local farmers have removed native trees to plant crops. Trees lock moisture in the soil and prevent erosion using their extensive root networks. Fewer trees can result in significant erosion, damaging river ecosystems and increasing flooding. The challenges of growing crops in these degraded areas are heightened by disease and changing rainfall patterns, jeopardizing the financial success of many small farmers.

Bees and the honey they produce provide critical benefits to both the environment and rural farming communities across Botswana. People use honey as a natural sweetener and in the medical industry as a natural anti-bacterial, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant agent.

The hilly landscape of Northern Maroua, Cameroon was once rich with tall trees and green fields. With sufficient rain, local farmers enjoyed consistent crop yields and herders grazed their healthy livestock. But in the last two decades, demand has increased for farmland, pasture, and firewood for cooking at the expense of forests and grasslands.

The 75,000-hectare Makuli-Nzaui landscape – located in the Southwest of Kenya’s Makueni County – supplies water to four of lifegiving rivers, the Kaiti, Thwake, Kikuu and Mwilu. This small area, only 13% of the county, supplies the water of nearly half the local residents and underpins the economic vitality of its rural and urban communities.

In Sudan, farmers and herders are increasingly feeling the pressure of climate change and desertification. Those same communities rely on the natural resources that healthy land provides for their water and food.

Benin's sacred forests, protected out of respect for traditional religious beliefs, are maintained by local communities throughout the country. But many of these areas are now degraded due to overexploitation for the forest products that they provide, the expansion of agriculture, and urbanization.

Rwanda is among the fastest growing countries in sub-Saharan Africa. Even with this breakneck pace of economic expansion, over 70% of the population makes a living from subsistence agriculture and natural resources like forests and rivers.  

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