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Building resilient communities through nurturing indigenous forest woodlots

INDIGENOUS forest seeds have never been favoured by communities due to a number of factors which include slow-growth, lack of knowledge and information about suitable conditions for growth as well as negative attitudes and perceptions about them. BY PETER MAKWANYA In some cases, due to inherent water scarcity in many dry regions, growing trees has not always been a viable option. Above all, the local communities are not in the habit of collecting indigenous forest seeds for planting but for decoration. While it is easy and quite common practice to nurture exotic trees due to their fast-growing patterns, indigenous forest seeds require commitment, patience and dedication in watching them slowly grow. In this regard, local communities are not patient to endure this slow and painful process to see their frustrations bear fruit and culminate in resilience. Furthermore, tendering indigenous forest seeds into woodlots and forest regenerations has been viewed as a waste of time, space and resources but as the effects of climate change bite, communities need to deconstruct centuries-long unsustainable habits and breathe a new impetus into forest regeneration. Now that the natural forest cover is fast disappearing due to human activities and climate change, local communities need to start venturing into sustainable nurturing of indigenous forest seeds from local tree species, adaptable to their geographical conditions and landscapes. This should be facilitated by empowering and supportive communication networks from the forest discourse communities and authorities for this life-long practice to thrive and change people’s lives in order to build resilience to climate change. It is a retrogressive practice that, to this day, forest farming is viewed as a practice for the elite and rich entrepreneurs who do not care about the environment. For this reason, a new brand of small-scale but thriving agro-ecopreneurs should be given a chance to venture into sustainable agro-ecological forestry and make money while taking care of the environment. Indigenous forest seed nurseries can act as back-up for the fast dwindling and threatened forest colonies due to human invasions in search of firewood, charcoal, timber, fruits and medicines. In short, rural communities depend on forest resources and products for their livelihoods. Since the forests are so vital to the lives of local communities, it is high time they ventured into reforestation on a small-scale to recreate, adapt and build resilience to the effects of climate change. In return, this would help to reduce pressure on the natural forests so that they can grow, build up and clothe the landscapes once more as well as avoid desertification. Forests have been growing through their natural order and cycle but this trend is under threat from human activities like land clearing for farming, building of houses, brick moulding and the effects of climate change. Against this backdrop, some tree species are under threat of extinction hence communities should come up with indigenous forest n

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