Sustainable Livelihood via Sustainable Forest Industries
Life4Sofala is an acronym for Living Forest Endeavor 4 Sofala. Sofala is a province in central Mozambique, and the 4 stands for the four communities involved in the program, Zangue, Pungue, Mutundo and Santove.
Why we are doing this. Approximately 80% of the total population of Mozambique live in rural areas where the incidence of poverty runs at 54%. Dependence on forest resources is high. Yet the annual rate of deforestation is 219,000 hectares per year, which represents just under 4% of this valuable natural resource. Beyond the immediate loss of resources, continued deforestation means continued poverty for the rural population who are dependent on natural resources to survive. Rural communities suffer losses swept away in floods resulting from soil erosion; droughts such as this year’s result in crop failures. Most painful of all, are the consequences of routine relocations due to the nature of slash and burn farming. This is a lifestyle which denies its population of community services, such as medical care, schooling, access to goods and other advantages staying in one place offers those fortunate enough to enjoy a sedentary lifestyle. And not to be underestimated is the permanent destruction of important commercial resources vital to Mozambique’s future, which include fertile soils, timber and non-timber resources such as apiculture, herbs and tourism and possible future carbon credit. The loss of these resources will contribute to continued poverty for a very long time.
What Life4Sofala is all about is trying to change the above. We want to prove that by working together, communities, responsible private industry and international organizations can successfully reduce poverty, deforestation and reforest damaged areas. It’s a simple concept: make conservation worth while to the rural communities who live there.
The “we” in Life4Sofala includes the participating farmers of the four communities Zangue, Mutondo, Pungue and Santove, in the Northern Cheringoma district. As of today, over 64 farmers are participating in the program. The farmers are represented by the Associacao Pitshwa Mutondo; a registered association with a democratically elected committee which consists of a president, vice president, secretary and eleven other posts. Their role is in coordinating the economic development of matters within the community. Participants in the reforestation are recruited on a voluntary basis. The private sector participant in the program is Dalmann. Dalmann is one of two FSC certified forestry units in Mozambique and produces hard wood furniture and other products in Beira and on Catapu. Dalmann is a 100% Mozambican company, and this program is the natural extension of years of community development activities initiated by Dalmann. Also participating in the program are several volunteers who are devoting their time and resources to developing and sustaining the program. For more about those volunteers, see “about us”.
We believe by enabling the four communities of Zangue, Mutondo, Pungue and Santove to sustainably improve their living standards and simultaneously protect and enhance their natural
environment, that the objective will be achieved.
The program encompasses projects with paid environmental services, such as reforestation and fire prevention. Combined with continual training, a culture which values an intact environment
emerges. In order to reduce further land degradation, improved farming techniques, fertilizers (ideally organic) and crop rotation will be introduced