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A Con-Tree-Bution

Fact – The World Bank reports that between 1990 and 2000 alone, more than a fifth of Malawi’s forests vanished.

Fact – Lake Malawi is home to some of the greatest fish diversity of any lake on earth, but deforestation is resulting in soil erosion and silt problems.

Fact – By 2004, about 16% of Malawi was under some form of protection. The country is home to 658 bird species, 108 mammals, 207 reptiles, 56 amphibians, and 3,756 plant species.

Seedlings being grown to repopulate Malawi's forests.

Since 2005 the Malawi Project has been actively trying to affect the future of Malawi’s forests. Tucked within the plan to help the poor by providing food and clothing is the Shoes for Trees program. In its focus to provide shoes for the children, handicapped, elderly, invalids, widows and widowers, and poor in the villages the Project (and the Malawi organizations that work with the Project) are focused on sustainable programs to encourage the people to make a contribution while receiving the shoes. This is done so the people do not see the shoe program as a give away that breeds dependency, but a program that helps people make a contribution that will give them a sense of self worth, and having made a contribution to their families, community, and nation.

In a recent shoe distribution program in Chopi Village near Zomba, Wilson Tembo reports, “The Shoes for Trees” program by the Malawi Project is increasingly making a big impact to the Nation – More trees are being planted. Now, more villagers are participating in raising seedlings ready for this year’s planting season.

Near the home of group Village headman Chopi in Zomba, 40,000 trees were planted last season. Now, due to the initiative, 44 villages are participating in tree planting exercise, and there is hope to increase the number of trees to 100,000 this season. For this to happen, a total of 30 nursery beds have been raised in readiness for the planting season. The Forestry Department is providing the necessary materials and technical guidance.

The provision of shoes as incentives to these people has increased the hard working spirit and dedication towards the work.

Mr. Gagula, the District Forestry Officer for Zomba District, had this to say, ‘In the 2012/2013 season the District registered a total of 2.9 million trees that were planted. These were facilitated by several initiatives such as Shoes for Trees program.’”

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