It's how we started...
CHEMA`s pioneer project and central endeavor has been afforestation, originally through the establishment of tree nurseries in Bushangaro in 1991 and quickly spreading to the rest of the Diocese by 1995. Individuals, women`s groups, primary schools and others raise seedlings to meet the local demands, while technical know-how is passed on to community-based organizations and small farmers. Rather than focusing on the dominant Eucalytus spp., CHEMA introduced a variety of indigenous species suitable for fuelwood, agro-forestry, animal fodder and bee diets.
Establishment of tree nurseries
CHEMA established nurseries in several villages, including Lusahunga, Kalenge, Nyamahanga, Nyamirembe, Chato, Kibehe, Muganza, Igarula, Bukiriguru, Runazi, Kalenge, Ruganze, Kikoma and Kalebezo, just to name a few.
Several trainings were conducted to ensure the seedlings that were raised would have good health and could be planted problem-free. Training was provided in the following core areas:Tree nursery management
Tree seed collection
Seed treatment before sowing/storage.
General care after transplanting
Campaigns on bush fires
With outreach programs, CHEMA has increased awareness on forest conservation and protection as well. Creating such awareness in the community brings about proper resource management in the long run and reduces instances of bushfires in particular. Traditionally, bushfires are lit to clear land for cultivation or during honey harvesting - but many are ignorant of the vast environmental damage - ranging from loss of biodiversity to changes in the hydrologic cycle - caused by bushfires. Awareness campaigns were carried out in collaboration with village leaders and district officials, and now CHEMA has seen behavioral changes in campaign participants.
Lessons Learned & Issues Faced
CHEMA has encountered a wide-range of drawbacks in its work, some visible and quantifiable and some are not. For instance, much could be done to encourage collaboration of all environmental actors in the district instead of working piece-meal and individually. Also, CHEMA has seen that there is poor implementation of governmental environmental policy and/or law. Beyond bureaucratic considerations, the customs, taboos and attitudes of the target groups themselves are not always malleable.
Additionally, impact is often dampened by funding, transportation or information technology limitations. Human resources development is urgently needed along with strengthening the quality and quantity of machinery such as chainsaws to improve efficiency.
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