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Development project 7 of 16
Title
Tree Planting
Location
Kahuzi Biega National Park, DR Congo
Gorillas
Eastern lowland gorillas
Local Partner:   POPOF
Description

With fewer than 3,000 eastern lowland gorillas remaining in the wild, populations are under threat from habitat loss caused by illegal mining, political conflict, encroachment and trespassing. It is estimated that around the Kahuzi-Biega National Park, DR Congo, which is home to this sub-species, approximately 95% of all energy consumption comes from burning wood. The park has therefore been under intense pressure from local communities who rely on it as a source of firewood, as well as exploiting the forests for timber. The Gorilla Organization began working with local partner the Pole-Pole Foundation (POPOF) in 2002 to plant trees on the periphery of the national park, creating a buffer zone that not only separates the forest and local farmland, but also provides local communities with a source of firewood and timber so they no longer have to rely on the forest.

The overall objective of the project is to reduce human pressure on the Kahuzi-Biega National Park by promoting tree-growing in the local communities to provide firewood and timber. The specific objectives are:

  • To establish tree nurseries where saplings are cultivated and grown
  • To distribute saplings within local communities for planting in the national park buffer zone or on individual farms
  • Follow up and training of tree beneficiaries by project staff to ensure the trees are growing well and being cared for appropriately


  Plant a tree for the gorillas - £5

Progress

To date, 15 tree nurseries have been established on hired land and in school gardens, including five that were set up in 2008. Tree saplings are cultivated and grown before being planted out in the buffer zone or distributed during special ceremonies for planting on individual farms. At present the project is concentrating on four species of tree: Grevillea robusta; Markhamia lutea; Cassia; and Eucalyptus. While not indigenous, these species are fast-growing and both Grevillea and Eucalyptus grow incredibly straight, making them ideal for poles and timber. Through the project, almost 800,000 trees have been planted - over 350,000 in 2008 alone - and the buffer zone continues to grow. Awareness-raising ensures that the communities are actively involved in caring for the trees and understand the need for forest conservation, further contributing to a secure future for the eastern lowland gorilla.

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