The project aims to raise awareness of the value and importance of the area’s biodiversity in the surrounding communities.
It focuses on building the capacities of rural impoverished communities to sustainably harvest and sell forest products from customary land and forest reserves; the incentives will also be promoted through community capacity building on Village Savings and loan (Village Banks) which use the methodology that does not provide financial support, but rather offer training for a group of members (that will be established in this project) interested in the creation and operation of savings and loan associations.
The purpose is to enable communities learn to save the little they have and be able to accumulate enough money for their needs, including money for venturing into various micro enterprises purposefully emphasizing the development of alternatives to biological resource use that threatens the massif’s biodiversity.
The project also aims to contribute and help to fast track the finalization of a management plan (and Co management agreements) which is currently still under modification.
1. Awareness creation on the need and importance of Natural resources management and biodiversity conservation of Wilindi, Matipa and mughesse forest reserves. The awareness activities have been targeting 47 communities around the forest reserves.
2. Promotion of Non forest based activities by introducing a Village savings and loans-VSL (Village Bank). The introduction of the village savings and loan system intends to encourage non forest based economic activities and promote the conservation of Wilindi, Matipa and mughese forest reserve.
3. Facilitate platforms to discuss with stakeholders (department of the forest, local management board, Block committees, Natural resources management committees, Misuku bee keepers Association and others) to discuss debate and complete the forest management plan.
4. Capacity building on best agricultural practices with emphasis on conservation agriculture to increase food security and reduce encroachment in the forest reserves.
Since the project was implemented in July 2014, the following are some of achievements:
36 days of awareness campaigns around the Wlindi-Matipa and Mughese forest reserves has been conducted and 47 villages educated in Natural resources management and biodiversity conservation.
The project is not a new model but rather its building on the successes and lessons learnt from work that has previously been implemented around the Mughese, wilindi and Matipa forestry reserves.
47 communities of Traditional Authority Mwenemisusku in misuku Hills which are close to Wilindi, Matipa and mughese forest reserves and whose livelihood is very much dependent to the forest reserves covering around 522 hectors inside the forest reserve and 622 hectors of customary land outside the forest reserve were targeted in the awareness campaign.
Another major achievement the Improved livelihood and biodiversity conservation project is the Promotion of Non forest based Village savings and loans-VSL (Village Bank)- which has eventually increase saving culture, provide an opportunity for business loans, entrepreneurship and has created jobs to more than 500 people where 60 percent are women.
A village savings and loans feasibility study identified 41 communities who are close to Wilindi, Matipa and mughesse forest reverse and whose lives highly depend on the forest resources and the forest areas are at risk of high degradation.
These targeted communities’ covers around 480 hectors of forest areas inside the reserve and 533 hectors of customary land outside the forest reserve.
20 groups of Village savings and loan system have been established with an average number of 25 memberships (subject to increase every month) which includes members of the Wilindi, matipa and mughese management board, members of the forest block committees, Village Natural Resources Management committees, Village headmen, Men and Women of Misuku Hills. Since the establishment of the Village savings and loan system in January 2015, each group has saved about MWK 110,000 equivalent to US$ 250.
Each Village savings and loan system has a constitution which clearly states that 10% of the interest that the group makes at the end date (when they sharing the money at the end of each year) will be devoted for environmental conservation of wilindi Matipa and Mughese forest reserve.
The rules and regulations for each of the Village saving and loans (VSL) group that has been introduced by this project require that individual group members should observe certain behaviors, group members are discouraged to get involved in activities that degrade the wilindi-matipa and mughese forestry reserve (eg. they promise not to degrade the forest, they promise to guard the forest, they promise to restore the forest).
The 500 plus people who are famers around Wilindi, matipa and Mughese forest reserve and are members of the Village saving and loan system established by this project have been trained in tree nursery operation which has so far realized approximately 50,000 new indigenous and exotic trees.