Amina Haji Ali is 27 years old and lives in Kitogani village in Zanzibar, Tanzania. Amina knows that trees are her future, which is why she chose to become a part of the Hifadhi ya Misitu ya Asili project (Conservation of Community Natural Forests), or HIMA.
Forests in Zanzibar, as in many places, have been deeply impacted by the effects of climate change. Shifting precipitation patterns and changing growing seasons have forced many people to begin clearing the land in order to try cultivating different foods.
Today, natural forests are found mostly in areas left behind during the establishment of coconut and clove plantations. In addition to lands being cleared for agricultural fields and infrastructure, people’s dependence on firewood for both fuel and as a source of income has placed the forests in danger.
“Increasing the number of trees planted in this community wood lot is a link to a better life for me, my husband and our children”, says Amina.
Planting trees is a tangible way to support the growth of the forests and provide people like Amina with an alternative source of income. With HIMA’s support, Amina says the number of trees planted by community members has risen from 1,000 in three seasons to nearly 1,000 per season.
Planting more trees is part of a larger, more comprehensive approach to forest management for Amina’s community. In addition to expanding tree nurseries to increase wood lot production, the community plans to strengthen its equitable decision-making within community forest management, develop alternative sources of income, and explore ways to reduce their own firewood consumption - such as through improved stoves that help reduce CO2 emissions.
This approach to forest conservation may even provide financial rewards for the community through carbon revenue from Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD). REDD mechanisms have been introduced in the country as a set of steps designed to use market or financial incentives to reduce the emissions of greenhouse gases from deforestation and forest degradation.
In the community forest close to her home, Amina says she hopes to benefit from the trees she is planting in two ways - by selling the trees for different purposes such as building poles or firewood and by conserving the natural forests and contributing to the revenue the community will receive through REDD.
Amina, like many women working in the wood lots, plans to use part of the money she makes planting trees to pay the school fees for her children. In this way her children will grow up strong along side the trees, supporting each other to build a better future for their entire community.
For more information about Amina’s story visit: http://www.careclimatechange.org/cop17/cc-stories