Defending Ecosystems With Community Engagement, Enrichment
The climate conversation often focuses on fossil fuels and energy policy, but deforestation is a major part of the equation. Of course, that also puts a premium on forest conservation around the world. Humans and other endangered species are counting on it.
For example, the Kilimanjaro region of East Africa is one of the most threatened ecosystems on earth. Millions of people and several endangered species depend on the snows and rains of Kilimanjaro for survival. As land use encroaches further into local forests, water flows are changing and conflicts with wildlife are rising. A nonprofit organization in Tanzania hopes to reverse those trends with a comprehensive forest conservation, reforestation and community-engagement program.
The Mellowswan Foundation Africa-Tanzania will defend the greater Kilimanjaro ecosystem with more than 10 million new seedlings, community engagement, wildlife conservation strategies and more. They will educate local stakeholders about sustainable forestry, sustainable agriculture and wildlife management. Unlike past reforestation efforts in the region, it will focus on local needs and long-term sustainability. The seedlings are indigenous species that can help restore and protect the integrity of the ecosystem, while helping rural communities thrive as stewards of the land.
Forests across the region are retreating under the pressures of agriculture and communities that depend on firewood. Water supplies also are retreating.
Tanzania lost more than half of its elephants to poachers over the past decade. They could be wiped out entirely in just five or six years. Adding to the crisis, there has been loss of wildlife habitat and biodiversity as a result of fragmentation and loss of critical ecosystem linkages and over-exploitation of the natural habitats. This loss of habitat brings humans and wildlife into more and more conflict over food, water and space–which means more bloodshed.
We will plant trees for sustainable timber, rainfall management, groundwater conservation, food, wildlife habitat and other regional needs. We will include an urban forestry program that will help “street kids” generate food and income. The urban canopy can help capture pollutants and water runoff, while making the cities more resilient and energy efficient.
Conservationists are demanding more efforts to protect endangered species now. In a letter published July 27, 2016 in the journal BioScience, 43 wildlife conservationists warn that elephants, lions, rhinos, gorillas and many other species will become extinct without urgent intervention, which must include habitat conservation, community engagement and more.
“We will soon be writing obituaries for species as they vanish from the planet,” said authors from Wildlife Conservation Society, Zoological Society of London, Panthera and many others. Extinction is a slippery slope.
Crossbow is donating its time to help generate sponsors, donors and grants. We also need volunteers and in-kind donations for these projects.
“We have some powerful sponsorship packages,” said Crossbow President Gary Chandler. “We also have some very unique rewards for donors. Please help spread the word to your friends, families and favorite companies. This is a very important program to the entire world.”