By Jimmy Eggers, Wildlife Works Special Projects
Wildlife Works hosts the Sixth Field Dialogue for Interests in Investing in Locally Controlled Forests
Sponsors include Wildlife Works, Nedbank
As the owners and protector-operators of the Africaâ€™s first carbon offset project under the new (2009) REDD guidelines, Wildlife Works was happy to recently host members of The Forests Dialogue (TFD) on November Â 29, 2010. Â There were some 47 members from all parts of the world, including Canada, the U S A, Scandanavia, Europe, Asia, Central America, South America, and Africa.
Delightfully, these travelers were able to mingle and exchange ideas with the chiefs and directors of Â the very communities adjacent to and supportingÂ our Â REDD related efforts. Â Kenyan governmental ministries were also well represented. It was a wonderful opportunity for all of these persons that subscribe to and live by theÂ TFDâ€™s broad credo of diverse peoples being committed to the conservation and sustainableÂ use of the worldâ€™s forest.
Even better, with this event being tagged as the Sixth Field Dialoguefor those interested in idea of local people Investing in Locally Controlled Forestry (ILCF)— whether they be small landholders, community peoples, indigenous forest-dependent people, or persons like WWC owners and employees—-the Â commonality was bright and perceptible.
Although TFDâ€™s schedule included a day on site with us on the Rukinga Wildlife Sanctuary in southwestern Kenya, it also included trips to both Northern and Southern Kenyan coastalÂ forest preserves, Â providing the group unusual diversity for a single trip.
The group assembled in the Wildlife Works eco factory shortly after arrival on theÂ Rukinga Sanctury grounds. Â They were first welcomed and then given an overview of the full range of WildLife Works activities by VP of African Field Operations, Rob Dodson. Â TFD executive director Gary Dunning then reinforced the principles of The Forest Dialogue and reminded the group of the extraordinary parallels guiding both TFDâ€™s and the REDD programâ€™s work.
The next stop at the Wildlife Works seedling nursery and greenhouse seemed to generate a lot of curiosity and a very broad range of questions for the presenters of the Â seedling programs. Â Of special interest seemed to be our community seedling buying program whereby very small seedlings of many different species are brought to us by community members in small containers.
The â€śsellersâ€ť are paid an advertised amount for each seedling. Â These seedlings then are cultured and grown for a year under our protectiveÂ nursery conditions, then in turn redistributed throughout area communities for use inÂ tree planting programs. These help the entire region recover from decades of deforestation for human consumption. Â Some purchased seedlings will be used in our ownÂ treefarm activities mentioned below.
Everyone present, no matter where they are from, seemed to be very aware of theÂ deleterious effect of hardwood charcoaling in regions where charcoal is the primary cooking fuel. Â In our region of east Africa, it is probably a larger source of deforestation than clearing for subsistence agriculture. Â Jamie Hendriksen, Â WWCâ€™s Â Rukinga field operations manager, described for the group Wildlife Works’ new effort to produce sustainable or green charcoal by using coppiced or pruned branches from Acacia species indigenous to our area.
These are raised on â€śtreefarmâ€ť plots now being started on appropriate non-carbon project ground and charred by a barrel-kiln charring process found to be much more efficient than the bush ground kiln processes. Â Fingerling branches can be harvested every year—with no trees cut. Â Wildlife Works is hopeful this will eventually replace illegal bush charcoaling while providing even more jobs to community peoples. Â All seemed to enjoy witnessing the actual barrel-kiln charring process.
We all enjoyed lunch prepared by and served Camp Kenya safari camp, a long time safari concession operated on the Rukinga Sanctury, now operated by Camps International (CI). It was announced that CI was this yearâ€™s winner of EcoTourism Kenyaâ€™s Eco-Warrior Award, and we all congratulated them on that. Â Another extensive question and answer session involving almost everyone in attendance concluded the session. Â A serious flurry of contact info exchange preceded the conferees loading onto the buses by 4 PM for the substantial journey back to Mombasa for a dinner conference that evening and field trips the following two days.