The Wildlands Trees for Life Programme is an initiative to bring livelihood support to previously poorer communities through the growth and barter in indigenous trees, which are then planted into forest restoration sites. Participants in the programme, dubbed Tree-preneurs, are taught to collect and germinate seed from local tree species and then to care for them using sustainable methods of natural resource use – for example using grey water from bathing and cooking. In the process they learn how they can utilize natural resources around them to improve their lives. In return for their trees the participants receive items such as Jojo water storage tanks, Qhubeka bicycles and Unilever livelihood product hampers. In addition some of the more productive Tree-preneurs opt to enter into the Khutaza Business initiative where they trade their trees for financial support to start or grow small businesses.
I recently attended a Trees for Life Activation day, where Wildlands close the cycle of the Tree-preneur programme and hand over the barter items for which trees have been collected. This particular day was for the handover of Qhubeka bicycles. In addition to the handover, participants are informed about new products available for barter and receive some training in the use of some existing products.
We then visited some of the inspiring homesteads of three of the Tree-preneurs. The first has started a chicken business in her yard, the second a copy and printing business and the third is successfully putting her four orphaned grandchildren through school. It was a super day that left me feeling extremely happy to be involved in work that brings such positive action for both human livelihood and conservation support.
Enjoy a few of the pictures of the day.