All of the Alpha 3 teams, with the support of the Ihanu villagers have transplanted just over 150,000 pine seedlings into polythene tubes hand-stuffed with soil over the past three months. The project has a long-term goal and now, as we all head home, it is time to hand the project fully over to the Community Management Committee. During the last Community Action Day we held in the village, the project was ceremoniously handed over to a committee of nine villagers – three villagers from each sub-village of Ihanu – that will take ownership of the project.
The Environmental Committee will ensure that the whole community of Ihanu will care for the tree nursery for the next six to twelve months until the seedlings are mature enough to be planted in the village’s 200-acre tree farm. Once planted in the ground, the trees will then need to be occasionally pruned to ensure the trees grow to their full potential before being harvested in 10 to 15 years.
Among this committee is Daudi Joseph Kalinga – husband to one of the teachers at the local primary school – whom we interviewed about the project.
His hopes for the project are positive, he explains, “everyone in the village wanted the project, so they will take responsibility for making the project a success.”
The venturers asked him, “How do you think the NRM project will benefit the community of Ihanu in the future?”; he stated, “The project will help with conserving the local environment and water sources and it will create employment opportunities, which will increase people’s income through the timber produced. This will help parents to put their kids through further education.”
Daudi understands that education plays an essential role in addressing the environmental issues that face Ihanu. Each week for the past three months we have carried out awareness raising sessions at the local primary school to children ages 6 to 13, about the impact cutting down trees has on the local, national and global environment. The children of Ihanu are the future of the project as the trees cannot be harvested for at least 10 years so it is vital for them to have the awareness and knowledge in order to continue the project.
From the strong relationships built with the community we are positive that the community believes in the importance of maintaining the natural forest by only cutting down trees that have been grown solely for that purpose. One reason it is particularly important for the community of Ihanu to maintain its natural forest, is so that it doesn’t disturb the current water balance in the area. One of the nearby villages, Isipi, operates a hydroelectric dam that provides electricity for many surrounding villages including Ihanu. This electricity is provided very cheaply on the basis that the villagers don’t cut down too many trees and disturb the water balance. The people of Ihanu are determined to protect their way of life and conserve the natural forests for generations to come, and we are happy and proud that we have had the opportunity to work with them to make this happen.