Women Leading Livelihoods in Forest Conservation

Through a partnership with Forestry Department, BCP-supported livelihood initiatives are benefitting women, their families, and their communities. In the Luangwa Community Forests Project (LCFP), the livelihood initiatives are providing women with the education, resources, and support to grow their own businesses.

The increased income from forest conservation opportunities that this gender mainstreaming initiative provides has helped to not only encourage women to step into positions of leadership, but also increase the wellbeing of their families. Today, we are proud to highlight two female leaders who have grown their own bee-keeping and agro-forestry businesses as a result of this conservation livelihood partnership.

Bee-Keeping: Mrs. Charity Chulu – Nsefu Chiefdom

Mrs. Charity Chulu, pictured here with her family, is a bee-keeping farmer in Chitunda Village, Nsefu Chiefdom. She is delighted with her success:  she has harvested and sold honey through a direct to export market partner of BCP which has allowed her to pay school tuition fees for her children for the entire year.

“We shall continue to keep our forest intact because it has brought a lot of benefits, one of them being beehives which has given us money to send our children to school. It also brings a good environment to our villages as it has got a part to play in bringing rainfall and good weather all around” – Mrs. Charity Chulu

Bee-keeping is a valuable and sustainable livelihood that has brought Mrs. Chulu, and many other bee-keeping farmers within the LCFP partner Chiefdoms additional income to support their families. There are currently 11,200 bee-hives deployed supporting 1,120 households and in turn, 6,720 beneficiaries.

Agro-forestry: Mrs. Enny Simufwi –Bunda Bunda Chiefdom

Mrs. Enny Simufwiis the Lead Agro-forestry Farmer in Mweeshang’ombe community zone, Bunda Bunda Chiefdom. BCP first came to know Enny in 2013 as one of the earliest trained conservation farmers under the Lower Zambezi REDD+ Project.  Today, she leads and supports nine other agro-forestry farmers. Through BCP’s partnership with the Zambian Ministry of Agriculture, Enny has been able to improve her farming practices and increase her groundnut and maize yields using conservation farming techniques. Enny has also planted 78 citrus trees providing not only a source of income, but also a source of added nutrition from the fruits.

Enny had a lot to say about her flourishing orchard and their fascinating benefits.

“I planted mangos and oranges for home consumption. It is part of Agro-forestry.” Pointing to a Sennas ciamea Tree she adds, “Rainfall here is good because of these trees. When we plant these trees, they absorb carbon from the atmosphere and also help with rainfall.”

She adds, “the Faidherbia Albida is used as ‘green manure’. The leaves drop in October and November and make the soil so fertile.” Moving on to the Neem Tree she adds: “These leaves are used as medicine for chickens and people and cure about 200 diseases.”

Our ambitions are to scale up nutrition security in the 13 Chiefdoms we partner with over the next 36 months.  It’s an ambitious target, but it’s a necessary one.  According to Government statistics, some of these community areas of Eastern Zambia have some of the highest poverty and food insecurity rates in the country.  Our goal is to change this through forest protection.  In order to live BCP’s mission of making conservation of wildlife habitat valuable to people, we have to pursue strong partnerships targeting the most vulnerable households and scaling Enny and Charity’s stories across thousands of households.  We are proud that BCP’s partnerships with Government are building livelihoods and continuing to improve the livelihoods of women, their communities, and their farmlands and forests, and we are proud of Enny and Charity empowering their families through trees.

Possibly the Best Green Charcoal in the World!

Sustainably managed forests are both a renewable energy source for communities and a carbon sink for the planet. Roughly only a quarter of Zambians have access to electricity, thus charcoal and wood fuel are essential for heating and cooking and will likely remain that way for years. But how that fuel is sourced can make a huge difference to our forests, communities, and planet.

As it stands, Rufunsa’s deforestation rate is approximately 11 times higher than the national average. Fortunately, this can change. Producing Eco-Charcoal is one way to protect forests on community lands, providing legal and sustainable fuel, and generating funds for Government and communities. By selectively harvesting mature trees while delicately cutting the remaining trees to allow for natural re-growth, forests can produce charcoal for energy and then regrow in a sustainable manner. This process can protect our ecosystems while generating income and boosting community livelihoods.

Eco-Charcoal was started by BCP Trust in 2013 in partnership with communities and the Forestry Department to produce a sustainable charcoal using improved kilns from a forest in Rufunsa District. To date, 424 hectares that are on an 18-year rotation are being managed by community “Charpreneurs” (charcoal entrepreneurs) and 31 households are involved as both producers of Eco-Charcoal and protectors of the forests that the charcoal is sourced from. 

Photo Caption: Davy Mabunda, a BCP Charpreneur undergoing refresher training during April 2020 in Ndubulula Zone. The refresher training was conducted by Mr. Simon Bweupe (Forestry Department, Senior Extension Officer) in collaboration with BCP Facilitators. The purpose of the training was to refresh and train Charpreneurs on sustainable harvesting methods, sustainable forest management and pre and post harvesting activities.

The project produces around 270 tons (270,000 kgs) per year and has generated $39,798.00 in payments to Charpreneurs, and $12,636.00 for the production and conveyance licenses to the Forestry Department between 2017 and 2019.

Eco-Charcoal sells two branded products:

  • A wholesale volume bag of 90kgs
  • A premium 5 kg bag found in supermarkets 

It is hard to compete with the informal sector which doesn’t pay the same taxes.  So we’re looking at ways to scale Eco-Charcoal by selling more kilos. However, using high-efficiency kilns which result in a 20% longer burn time than standard charcoal and the peace of mind knowing that your charcoal has been produced through sustainable methods by the caring hands of our “Charpreneuers,” buyers cannot go wrong with Eco-Charcoal! 

“I have been participating in the Eco-Charcoal Project from 2013 to present.  In the past, I wasn’t involved in any income generating activity, but after BCP brought the Eco-Charcoal project, I am able to pay school fees for my children and procuring farming inputs such as seeds and fertilizer. I have also used money from Eco-Charcoal to buy goats and other monthly essentials.” Christina Miti – Charpreneur from Ndubulula Zone of Bunda Bunda Chiefdom

We are humbled by the support received from our long-standing partner, Forestry Department, as well as Musika, who have helped us along the way with funding to support our marketing efforts. Remember to look out for our bags of Eco-Charcoal at Melisa’s Supermarket, Mudpackers and Butcher Block. You can also purchase from us directly by sending a WhatsApp, text or call to +260 976 321 164.