In the past five years alone, 42% of the forest has already been lost and another 18% heavily degraded. This trend is likely to increase in the years to come if there is no intervention, while the needs of the local community living in or around the forest are growing. Current 'reforestation' efforts in the area have been limited and restricted to small areas outside the forest reserve, mostly on private land.
The project aims to sustainably restore miombo woodland in the original forest reserve. Farmers around the reserve are engaged in forest restoration and trained in agroforestry, using Assisted Natural Regeneration (ANR) in combination with enrichment planting of seedlings from local tree nurseries. In addition, WeForest focuses on reducing barriers such as competition with weedy species and recurring fire disturbances. To monitor the progress of the restoration efforts and the project in general, GIS mapping is conducted, resulting in a digital database.
The project aims to build local capacity to effectively transfer ownership of the forest to the communities. The purpose is to ensure that community members are co-creators of the forest management plan and will be able to participate and benefit meaningfully throughout the process, with a particular focus on women.
In Katanino, marginalised and vulnerable groups, and particularly women, are typically the primary users of natural resources. It is therefore key for the project to have a strategy to engage with these groups, and ensure that appropriate measures are taken to allow them to be represented and participate meaningfully. At the same time, a livelihood plan will identify key alternative strategies that could be implemented to alleviate the pressure on the forest resources and provide economic incentives.