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World Forest Week: Making a difference to communities in Cameroon

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Cameroon forest

Today marks the beginning of World Forest Week, with world leaders gathering in Italy for the Committee on Forestry’s weeklong summit, which aims to shape a new agenda for world forests and sustainable management.

From the Amazon to Indonesia, deforestation is a global issue, and the loss of tropical rainforests remains staggeringly high. According to Think Global Green, 150 acres of rainforest are lost every minute of every day. Addressing this issue is global conservation organisation, Rainforest Alliance, who is working on the ground to help local communities sustainably manage their own forests, concessions, and lands.

At almost thirty years old, the Rainforest Alliance is no newcomer to sustainable forestry. As one of the founders of the Forest Stewardship Council back in the 1990s, the organisation has been imparting positive impacts for three decades.

The Rainforest Alliance recognises that community forestry is among the most sustainable forms of forest management, and evidence from its work in Latin America emphasises that community forestry can be a working solution in lieu of deforestation. When locals are able to take control of their own lands, their actions tend to reflect the community’s best interests. A recent analysis of Guatemala’s Maya Biosphere Reserve shows that deforestation rates in community forests where the Rainforest Alliance has worked were close to zero, while adjacent protected areas experienced forest conversion rates that were higher than regional averages.

The Rainforest Alliance is now working with forest communities in Cameroon to provide support to those who are engaged in, or would like to engage in, sustainable forestry management and the harvesting of non-timber products such as nuts. To date, the Rainforest Alliance’s efforts have benefited 12 local communities, which are home to around 10,000 people. As a collective effort with these communities, the organisation has laid the groundwork for sustainable methods of harvesting timber and non-timber forest products, while strengthening their internal governance and enabling them to operate in a competitive market environment. Additionally, it has facilitated the establishment of four local community-owned forest enterprises as a tool for pooling investments in equipment and social infrastructure, increasing negotiating power and improving access to markets.

MINKO’O COMMUNITY

Whether aged five or fifty-five, education is still one of the most powerful gifts anyone can receive. And since training in best practices in forestry can benefit generations to come, it’s a gift that can keep on giving. A training session held in early July at Mintom, in southern part of the Dja Biosphere Reserve in Cameroon, saw trainer, Mrs Mballa Myriam, train members of the community forest management bodies on the creation and management of their own co-operatives. TEACHERCLASS

Sustainable forestry practices involve a holistic approach that takes workers’ well-being into account, as well as protecting the environment and biodiversity. A group of forestry workers in Sangmelima, Cameroon show off the proper protective gear needed to safely operate a sawmill.

SAWMILL TRAINING

Forestry workers from Cameroon eagerly gather around a brand-new sawmill from partners on the ground, Akom. This equipment will sustainably lend much-needed economic support to the entire community. The delivery of sawmills and the training of production teams are essential elements, which provide freshly formed community forest enterprises (CFEs) with a ‘raison d’etre.’ Portable sawmills are used to cut logs into lumber, typically juxtaposed next to the tree being felled. Pooled resources for the processing of wood also renders operational and maintenance costs more affordable for CFEs, while allowing communities the chance to attain higher profit margins. First and foremost though, access to this type of processing equipment provides communities with options; it frees them from involvement with agents who may seek to take advantage by imposing unfavourable terms or by exploiting internal conflicts into unilateral and sometimes-illegal operations which tend to lack consent from the whole community. COMMUNITY MACHINERY

Locally managed community forestry enterprises can directly help communities to sustainably manage their forests’ economic opportunities. The woman shown here is selling Ndo’o nuts, to generate income from the local market. The Ndo’o nut is derived from wild mangoes, and is processed into edible pastes. Irvingia gabonensis, its scientific name, comes from a species of African trees, and is sometimes known as wild mango, African mango, or bush mango. These are edible, mango-like fruits, and are especially valued for their fat- and protein-rich nuts.

WOMEN NUTS GROUP

Women from a Cameroonian forest community are seen processing Djansang nuts, which can be found growing naturally in the forest. This is a wild, hard-shelled nut that is processed into oil and body soap.

WOMAN NUTS INDIVIDUAL

At the CEPFILD Cooperative in the Congo Basin, workers process a delivery of a new Djansang Nutcracker, an important tool for the local community.

NUTCRACKERS DELIVERY

For more information about the Rainforest Alliance’s forestry work in the Congo Basin, please visit: https://thefrogblog.org.uk/2016/03/31/protecting-biodiversity-and-livelihoods-in-cameroon

 

 

Environment

Want to Connect With Nature? Start by Disconnecting From Busyness

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Connect With Nature

Have you ever found yourself staring at one of your (many) devices and feeling slightly disgusted with how much time you waste on technology? If so, you aren’t alone. We all have moments like these and it’s important that we use them as motivation to change – especially if we want to be more connected with nature.

How Busyness Impacts Your Connection With Nature

Whether you realize it or not, you live an ultra connected life. Between smart phones, tablets, computers, and wearable devices, you’re never very far from some sort of technology that can connect you to the internet or put you in touch with other people. That’s just the world we live in.

While it could be argued that this sort of omnipresent connectivity is a positive thing, it’s also pretty clear that being permanently tethered to technology impacts our ability to strip away distractions and connect with nature.

When you’re always within arm’s reach of a device, you feel a sense of busyness.  Whether it’s browsing your social media feed, uploading a picture, reading the news, or responding to an email, there’s always something to do. As someone who wants to spend more time in nature, this is problematic.

4 Practical Ways to Disconnect

If you want to truly connect with nature and live a greener lifestyle, you have to be proactive about finding ways to disconnect. Here are a few practical suggestions:

1. Switch to a New Phone Plan

It’s not always practical to totally unplug from the world. Family and work responsibilities mean you can’t go off the grid and continue to fulfill your responsibilities. Having said that, there are some ways to scale back.

One suggestion is to switch to a prepaid phone plan. When you have a prepaid phone plan, you’re far less likely to spend hours and hours of your time making phone calls, sending texts, and surfing the web. It forces you to be more conscious of what you’re doing.

2. Get Rid of Social Media

Social media is one of the biggest time wasters for most people. Whether you realize it or not, it’s also a huge stressor. You’re constantly being exposed to the best snapshots of everyone else’s lives, which makes you feel like you’re missing out on something (even when you aren’t).

If you want to feel a sense of relief and free yourself up to spend more time in nature, get rid of social media. Don’t just delete the apps off your phone – actually disable your accounts. It’s a bold, yet necessary step.

3. Create Quiet Hours

If you aren’t able to get rid of social media and disable various online accounts, the next best thing you can do is establish quiet hours each day where you totally detach from technology. You should do this for a minimum of three hours per day for best results.

4. Build Community

Do you know why we’re drawn to social media and our devices? Whether consciously or subconsciously, it’s because we all want to be connected to other people. But do you know what’s better than connecting with people online? Connecting with them in person.

As you build real life, person-to-person relationships, you’ll feel less of a need to constantly have your eyes glued to a screen. Connect with other people who have an appreciation for nature and bond over your mutual interests.

Untether Your Life

If you find yourself constantly connected to a device, then this is probably a clear indicator that you aren’t living your best life. You certainly aren’t enjoying any sort of meaningful connection with nature. Now’s as good a time as any to untether your life and explore what a world free from cords, screens, and batteries is really like.

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Environment

6 Tips for an Eco-Friendly Move

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Moving can be a stressful and challenging time. No matter how many times you’ve done it in the past, the process of packing up, transporting, and unpacking isn’t very fun. It’s also not very eco-friendly. As you prepare for your next move, there are things you can do to ensure you leave less of a footprint behind.

6 Tips for a Greener Move

Because of the stress and pressure felt when moving, it’s pretty common for people to rush through the process and focus on getting it done. In fact, a lot of people take an “at all costs” approach; they’ll do whatever it takes to make the process as cheap and fast as possible. Don’t be one of those people. It doesn’t take much effort to turn a standard move into an eco-friendly move.

1. Maximize Each Trip

When moving across town, it’s imperative that you make as few trips as possible. Each trip requires more gas, more emissions, and more waste, and more time.

If you’re taking your personal vehicle, consider pulling a trailer behind it. You’d be surprised how much stuff you can fit into a small trailer. Not only will it make your move greener, but it’ll also save you a lot of time.

2. Donate Things You Don’t Want to Keep

The longer you live somewhere, the more junk you accumulate. This isn’t always obvious until you start packing for a big move. Instead of bringing all of these things with you to your next home, get rid of the stuff you don’t need! If the items are useful, donate them. If the items don’t have much value, toss them.

3. Reuse Moving Boxes

Not only are moving boxes expensive, but they’re also wasteful. If you need a bunch of cardboard boxes, consider looking around on Craigslist, asking friends, or checking the dumpsters behind stores. You can usually find a bunch of recycled boxes of all different shapes and sizes. Here are 12 places you can get them for free.

4. Get Creative With Packing

Who says you need moving boxes? You may find that it’s possible to do most of your move without all that cardboard. Things like storage containers, trashcans, filing cabinets, buckets, and dressers can all store items. Blankets and sheets can be used in lieu of bubble wrap to prevent your items from getting damaged.

5. Use Green Cleaning Supplies

Once you arrive at your new place, resist the urge to pull out a bunch of harsh chemicals to clean the place. You can do yourself (and the planet) a favor by using green cleaning supplies instead. Ingredients like vinegar, baking soda, and ammonia are great to start with.

6. Forward Your Mail ASAP

Don’t delay in forwarding your mail from your previous address to your new one. Not only is it wasteful for the Postal Service to route your mail to a place where you don’t live, but the next owner is probably just going to toss your letters in the trash.

Moving Doesn’t Have to be Wasteful

Most people only move once every few years. Some people will go a decade or more without a move. As a result, the process of moving often feels strange and new. The less experience you have with it, the less likely it is that you’ll be as efficient as you should. But instead of just diving into the process blind, take some time to learn about what an eco-friendly move looks like. That way, you can leave behind the smallest footprint possible.

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