The ProjectChoma Hill is a large wooded area on the outskirts of the city of Mzuzu and is the only forested area near the city where firewood can be found. As it is not designated a national park, Choma Hill has no legal protection from the Government and deforestation is a major problem in Malawi - rapid population growth has led to land clearance for subsistence farming and there is a heavy reliance on wood for cooking. On top of this, because many urban households use charcoal burning stoves, a thriving charcoal industry is threatening the forest. Ecotourism is a growing industry in Malawi but is dependent on the preservation of the forested areas that remain. RIPPLE Africa has an education programme and a fuel efficient cookstove project in the area, reinforcing messages about the importance of the forest at a household level. Funding from EOCA will enable RIPPLE Africa to:
- set up 16 new forest conservation committees run by community members to help protect Choma Hill
- work with local chiefs and forest conservation committees to introduce new byelaws to protect Choma Hill from further deforestation and encourage regeneration of already deforested areas
- enable the planting of 250,000 trees by farmers, community groups and tree planting clubs. Fast growing trees will be planted for timber and firewood, protecting the existing forest from further destruction. Other trees will stabilise the soil, and fruit trees will provide additional food and income.