The Cost of Deforestation
A blog post from Benson Chiumia, our Project Manager for Nkhata Bay Natural Way
In northern Nkhata Bay, at the epicentre of Temwa’s operating base, lies Usisya. Here, the term climate change is not new as a majority of the residents have felt the undesirable impacts of drought, forest depletion, and temperature changes on a daily basis.
I remember I was once asked a simple but complicated question by a village member, a question which would have an answer filling many books and still not be completely understood; “What’s the cost of deforestation?”
Indeed for a layman to calculate the cost of deforestation would not only bring headaches but also difficulties in understanding the real cost of not only cutting down trees, but also the many layers of challenges which also arise from their loss. When people see thousands of families washed away by flash floods, hunger reports due to prolonged dry spells, fishing industries dwindling- do they realise that that is the cost of deforestation?
Now as the world joins hands for commemorating a day to combat desertification, we continue to plea for the villages which feel the impact of deforestation the most. Deforestation begins with a single person cutting down one tree- and that those individuals add up as we see trees being cut further and further back to the point where there is no longer a forest, but rather single trees.
At Temwa we believe in community empowerment. Through a wide range of programmes we focus on equipping communities by developing sustainable natural resource management strategies, improve food security and livelihoods for the most disadvantaged households in the district. We train community members in tree nursery establishment and management as well as agro-forestry to facilitate tree planting. We also work with afforestation programmes as mitigation measures aimed at climate normalising through long term strategies involving environmentally friendly conservation programmes such as bee keeping.
Though we understand, appreciate, and acknowledge what the government and our counterparts are doing in the fight against desertification and prolonged droughts which have not only cost property but also precious lives, we at Temwa send one message.
Tree planting will never be a success unless we act as guardians of these trees. With well outlined and implemented strategies, well coordinated operations between the government and the corporate world, and a well enforced forestry act which would see perpetrators of forestry crimes brought to book, the world will be brought back to a life full of trees. If commitment such as this is made, then there will be no need for a villager to calculate the cost of deforestation as such a question will cease to exist.