The tree planting project is run by Friends of Usambara Society- an organization based in Lushoto that uses sustainable tourism to preserve culture and conserve nature of Usambara mountains region. FoU is widely known for its popular Cultural Tourism Program, which apparently attracts hundreds of tourists annually and serves as an appendage for generating resources needed for sustaining FoU’s core organizational activities/ community based projects i.e. biodiversity conservation, livelihoods development projects as well as direct contribution to specific village development priorities (within the catchment area) in the form of village development fund (VDF) where by 20 percent of the business revenue are used to support community relating projects.
Great for Earth
Properly planted, and in the right area, trees are an incredible water resource restoration tool. The root systems “spongify” the soil, creating space for precious rainwater to be absorbed before it can rush off, and for all manner of nutrient-rich microbes to thrive. This rainwater is absorbed by the soil, and much of it is eventually channeled down to replenish underground aquifers and stream sources. The aquifers, in turn, provide a more reliable and steady stream of water—extremely valuable when navigating a long dry season—to the local community. This is particularly relevant to Usambara Mountains which are one of the primary sources for hydropower resource for Lushoto, Tanzania. By maintaining a vital forest ecosystem, the project ensures that groundwater capacity in the region is maintained and stable in the face of threatening climate impacts.
Positive for People
FoU is directly involved in community-based environmental awareness creation and education campaigns which they see as integral in changing the attitudes of locals towards natural resources. In addition, the trees are providing a route for agroforestry inclusion for smallholder farmers that are increasingly being impacted by climate change & will improve the biodiversity in the region. Till date, over 3 million trees have been planted with a big focus on indigenous tree species. After planting, FoU takes responsibility for the young saplings for up to 3 years to ensure that they are well taken care of & ensure minimal mortality for the saplings.