Reforestation, reversing generations of slash and burn

School Children Prepare Soil for Tree PlantingSchool Children Preparing Soil for Tree PlantingDeforestation is a serious problem in rural areas of Zambia where villagers have practiced ‘slash and burn’ agriculture for generations. Typically a farmer will clear the land and burn the fallen trees and plant material to enrich the soil – which is not naturally strong in nutrients. The farmer then farms the land for one season using up all the nutrients in the soil and then moves on to slash and burn another plot of land. This is extremely difficult and unproductive work.

In addition, villagers depend on firewood for sterilizing water, cooking and cleaning. Village women find they have to walk farther and farther to find firewood. The loss of trees ends with the predictable problems of soil erosion, stream silting, loss of shade and quality forage for wildlife including honeybees who feed on flowering trees.

Hammer works with the village Chiefs and Headmen as well as the villagers to educate them to the importance of healthy forests.

"The Foundation for Wildlife and Habitat Conservation (FWHC) is a local Zambian NGO, working with communities surrounding the three most important national parks of Mpika district. The Lavushi Manda, North Luangwa and South Luangwa National Parks. Wildlife corridors are shared with three chiefdoms, with an increasing population of people now depending on wildlife and other natural resources from the forest, this situation has created massive pressure not only on the dwindling natural resources including forests, but also on the government resources to try and protect the parks from illegal poachers.", Hammer Simwinga

Hammer is teaching children to plant tree saplings. When he was in the United States for the Goldman Prize Ceremony – he earnestly asked if he could obtain a Budding Knife used to take cuttings from living trees to creating saplings. He got his knife and he is busy reforesting tracks of land in North Zambia while educating children and adults alike on the importance of forests.

To formulate good forest management practices Hammer networks with the Zambian Ornithology Society and the International organization: Commonwealth Forest Association.

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