We kicked off the week’s itinerary with a visit to an illegal coal-burning kiln in government-protected Dambwa Forest. There we listened to an interactive presentation on the dangers of such kilns from Benjamin Mibenge and Kebby Kambulwe – Zambian locals, champion re-foresters and two of Greenpop’s key partners on the Trees for Zambia project.
Coal burning is legal in Zambia but burners have to buy a licence. Most can’t afford it and with few livelihood alternatives resort to burning coal illegally in protected areas like Dambwa Forest. The Ministry of Forestry is tasked with enforcing the coal-burning legislation but with not a single vehicle to their name, have little means of doing so. It’s easy to see why coal burning is the greatest contributor to Zambia’s chronic deforestation rate, the second highest deforestation rate in the world. The group hung to Ben and Kivi’s words, surrounded by chunks of teak and rosewood coal ready to be sold for peanuts.
After a saddening morning, we were relieved to plant trees at Zambezi Basic School. The kids (who forewent their public holiday to plant with us) greeted us with a traditional dance, followed by hand eaten pap with relish and a tree-planting demonstration. Thirty trees and thirty mini tree-naming ceremonies later, we hung out in the courtyard, singing (you can never have enough singing), clapping and feeling chuffed. By design or intuition, Greenpop had taken us on a clever journey. The morning painted a very real picture of natural resource destruction while the afternoon showed us how to recreate.
If you’d like to get involved with Kebby Kambulwe’s combat climate change project visit his Facebook page. To date he has planted over nine million trees across Zambia and he plans to plant five million more.
If you’d like to sign up as a Greenpop volunteer or gift a tree to an undergreened community, visit their site.