We're still collecting donations
On the 23rd December 2021 we'd raised £8,347 with 62 supporters in 23 days. But as every pound matters, we're continuing to collect donations from supporters.
+ est. £1822.25
To save rainforests, alleviate poverty and save wildlife in African forests by providing alternatives to hunting and slash and burn farming
by rainforestsaver in Edinburgh, United Kingdom
On the 23rd December 2021 we'd raised £8,347 with 62 supporters in 23 days. But as every pound matters, we're continuing to collect donations from supporters.
To save rainforests, alleviate poverty and save wildlife in African forests by providing alternatives both to hunting and to slash and burn farming
Fertile Inga alley with young maize. Note the weed free mulch from the Inga trees that the crop is growing in.
Well done everyone. Many many thanks. We have reached our target. An additional £2500, bringing this up to £10,000 would enable us to buy more piglets and construct more pens and provide the necessary supervision for these. This would enable us to help several more farmers to give up hunting. So the essential expansion of the project would take place quicker, helping more hunters to give up hunting to their benefit, and to the benefit of the wildlife. We keep everything we raise above our initial target, whether we reach the stretch target or not. Many thanks to all our supporters.
NOTICE: We had a live Q&A session to explain more about our work. To see the recording visit Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/rainforestsaver
This project is intended to reduce the illegal hunting of wild animals in one of the most diverse ecosystems in Africa by providing the hunters with the good viable alternative of pig farming. The villagers we work with are enthusiastically behind this idea. The project also aims to further expand the provision of much better harvests for the villagers using the Inga Alley cropping farming method (See appendix). The full co-operation of the villagers led by our partner, the charismatic Linus Arong Melike makes this an extremely viable and desirable project.
GREAT NEWS! Our very generous donor has now put in his contribution of £2500, which he promised us if we reached £5000. We now have to take it to £7500 or we lose the lot.
Tropical rainforests are a carbon sink and contain vast amounts of biodiversity. In spite of our increasing awareness of their vital importance with regard to climate change they are still being destroyed at an alarming rate. One cause of this destruction is slash and burn farming. According to a recent study it accounted for over 90% of forest loss in Africa. Meanwhile the slash and burn farmers remain among the poorest Africans. There are few alternatives for them. If they migrate to the city they end up in poverty in the slums. Large commercial agricultural projects claiming to better the lot of local people often deprive them of the little they have, only providing employment in harsh conditions for little pay.
keeps the land fertile long term, while giving good yields, so the farmers get better harvests without clearing the forest. Win-win for all.
The present project is in the rainforest area of SW Cameroon.
Our partner in the area is Linus Arong who was fully trained by our first Cameroon partner, Gaston Bityo in 2016. Since 2017 Linus has vigorously promoted Inga farming in 9 villages and has been very successful. Two more villages are waiting till we have the resources, and several more are interested.
Linus works with the village community. They create communal Inga nurseries, then plant out the young trees going to each farm in turn in a group. The weeding round the young trees is organised similarly. Most of the farmers are women. In Cameroon they are responsible for feeding the family. Linus is helped by three assistants whom he has trained, and each village elects one woman to be their organiser.
On left a village work party filling planting bags with soil while the nursery is being built, on the right Inga nursery with thousands of thriving seedlings for the village.
Initially the idea of growing trees to plant crops when for generations the traditional wisdom has been that you cut down trees to plant crops represented a huge cultural change rather than just a tweak to farming practice. Some farmers dropped out before seeing the harvest which comes two to three years after first planting. However, once the harvests came in and they saw that these were 3 to 4 times bigger than without the Inga they re-joined the project, and others who were not part of it are joining too. Not only are the harvests bigger but they also ripen quicker.
Linus has started Inga plots with at least 250 farmers in 9 villages, and done the initial sensitization meetings in two more villages. Over 27,000 Inga trees have been planted. Maize, cassava, ground nuts, cocoyams, pepper, poky seeds, bananas and more have been successfully grown, as well as increased cocoa production when Inga was planted as shade trees in cocoa plantations. Yields of all crops have been higher with Inga than without, even though the farmers chose their poorest plots for the Inga. He has now listened to the concerns of the hunters and is keen to address the difficult problem of bushmeat hunting.
We are now in a position to try to build on these successes and provide an alternative to the illegal hunting that is rife in the area, particularly in the Korup National Park which is considered to be one of the most biodiverse ecosystems in Africa. Hunting provides the farmers with a little extra income, but destroys the wildlife. Not only are the animals lost but many species that are essential to spreading seeds for new growth are decimated. In the Scientific community there is much concern about ‘empty’ forests in Africa where trees still stand but the wildlife, at least the larger wildlife, has been decimated . From Plos Biology 2019:
‘We identified hotspots of hunting-induced defaunation in West and Central Africa (Cameroon, Guinea, and Cote D’Ivoire)……. In the West African countries, particularly in Cameroon, more than 50% of the total number of species are predicted to have their populations reduced by 70%–100% because of hunting activities.’
Baby whose mother was killed
Linus became very concerned about the illegal hunting in his area. Previous attempts to provide an alternative failed. (One such was bee-keeping, but there was no way to sell the honey.) With the willing co-operation of the villagers he got data on how many animals and of what species were killed by hunters in a three month period in 6 of the villages he works with. In total 2678 animals of 14 different species were recorded as killed. So we needed a viable alternative.
Linus talking to the young men of Fabé about the project.
Linus talked to the hunters, particularly in his home village of Fabé, asking them what would make them want to stop hunting. They said, pigs. They can sell these through some of the routes they already have for bushmeat. That would give a more stable income without the risk of getting caught hunting. Hunting would not provide a future for their children, whereas a pig farm could be passed on. So they welcome our intention to extend our Inga project to include a pilot on providing pigs, as well as promoting sustainable crop farming with Inga. As the Inga increases farm yields there is extra food that can be fed to the pigs, thus keeping down the feeding costs.
Linus talked to the superintendent of Korup National Park, who is keen to collaborate. We could employ some currently unemployed park rangers. The project has been discussed in village meetings and monitoring committees would be set up to ensure that men given a start with farm animals did really stop hunting. If the village buys in to this project then social disapproval will be a powerful force to ensure compliance.
Inga trees have fruit, and pigs breed. So in time this project will expand under its own steam in both directions.
We want to start the first pilot of pig keeping in Fabé village, while also increasing the Inga planting both in Fabé and in the surrounding villages. As far as Fabé goes the villagers are now capable of getting on with Inga farming on their own. They have had two successful harvests. Linus and his team will just keep an eye on things and ensure that the plots are expanded sufficiently to help feed the anticipated growing pig population in future years.
We will start with 4 piglets, including one male and 3 female. These will be reared to maturity, in about 6 months, and the females will be bred. The resulting piglets will be distributed to the (ex)hunters, and more will be bred in the following 6 months. A fenced in outdoor area will be included with each pig pen. The main costs will be the initial purchase of the first piglets, building of the pens and enclosures, and feed for the pigs. Bought in food is quite expensive so increasing production of food crops like cocoyams in the Inga plots will be needed to make this project profitable for the farmers. Other costs, which will be supplemented from other resources by RFS are the salaries of Linus and his three assistants. We are insisting on high welfare conditions for the pigs, which will reduce the incidence of disease and give a better quality product to sell.
The list below gives an estimate of costs, but we emphasise that this is a first pilot and the implementation of the plan will have to be very flexible. One unpredictable variable will be the litter sizes. We have budgeted for ten piglets in each. When the piglets are divided between the ex-hunters we expect some of the pens to hold several piglets for more than one owner, thus providing company for the pigs and reducing the cost of the pens. Some of the piglets will be reared for selling at the end of the year (or a bit longer), while a few can be kept for breeding. The project will be based on the principle of those who breed the pigs passing on some to those who initially do not have them till everyone in the village who wants pigs has them and we are ready to start with the next village.
The main costs to be covered by this fund raiser are:
The hunters/farmers are eagerly waiting for us to find the money to set them on their new path of sustainable and better living. Please support this project so we don’t let them down.
Rainforest Saver SCIO is a small charity managed by volunteers. Since 2007 we have projects in Honduras, Cameroon, Ecuador and Kenya. We work overseas entirely through local people. This we hope will embed the projects well in the local communities so that when inevitably we eventually leave (to start new projects in new places) the work should continue. Inga alley cropping is a simple, cheap way of farming, free of all chemical inputs with all their costs and problems, that should spread well from farmer to farmer once they see the results. Working through local people also enables them to communicate their needs and priorities.
For more information visit www.rainforestsaver.org
Or email us at [email protected]
Rainforest Saver SCIO is a Scottish registered charity no. SC050373. (We used to be Rainforest Saver Foundation SC039007).
In slash and burn farming the forest is cut and burned to clear the land for cultivation. The first year the soil is fertile and the crop is good. But after harvest the soil is left bare and the rains wash out the goodness from it. In a year or two it becomes infertile, and a new plot has to be cleared. Gradually the forest is destroyed, but the farmers remain poor. In earlier times with lesser population densities it worked because the cleared plot was given plenty of time to recover. But now a plot has to be reused too soon and so it keeps losing fertility, and eventually can become useless.
Slash and burn farming is a leading cause of rainforest destruction.
The destruction caused by slash and burn
With Inga Alley Cropping
Inga trees are planted as hedges with alleys between them. The trees are pruned and crops are grown in the alleys, with the prunings fertilizing the alleys. After the crops are harvested the trees regrow and the cycle is repeated year after year. The animation shows how this works in a section across one alley for the first three years.
This solution is unbelievably simple and yet very effective. It is not a hand out. It is a way for local populations to break out of poverty and become successful independent farmers without destroying the environment.
Why does Inga alley cropping work?
The fertility of rainforests is in the trees, not the soil. In an intact rainforest the nutrients are recycled from leaf litter through the tree roots to the trees. As the trees drop leaves they rot, release their nutrients, the tree takes these up, and the cycle is repeated.
Root nodules of the friendly bacteria in an Inga seedling that fix the nitrogen from the air to make it available for plants. Photo Gaston Bityo.
The Inga tree is a legume (like peas and beans) that increases fertility by fixing nitrogen (making it available to plants) and recycling nutrients, particularly phosphorus, with the aid of bacteria and fungi in its roots. Inga alley cropping imitates the natural rainforest by recycling the nutrients and providing a permanent protective cover of leaf litter on the ground so rains don’t wash the nutrients away, and it protects young crop seedlings from the hot sun.
A mature Inga alley, CURLA (the University), Honduras.
Why do we use the Inga tree (Inga edulis)?
Inga edulis was found to have special characteristics after much research by a British ecologist, Mike Hands, who studied many trees. It is a legume that fixes nitrogen, takes up phosphorus by mycorrhizae (fungi) in its roots, withstands repeated pruning, grows in the frequently acid rainforest soils, regrows fast and has a dense, broad crown that shades out weeds. Its leaves are thick and don’t rot too quickly, forming a permanent cover over the soil. Rainforest Saver is supporting research into other possible trees, but until these are tried and tested, we use Inga.
You’re probably familiar with the immense value and beauty of natural rainforest, and how they store carbon, but here are some facts you might not know:
When will the villagers become independent of RFS’s help?
It takes a few years. Linus insists that we continue our support for longer than one might have expected, because he has seen how too early an exit by the supporting overseas NGO has led to the collapse of projects. We are guided by him, and now the first villages are becoming independent as regards Inga farming. Both the Inga and the pigs are designed to give the local people food sovereignty.
Many people nowadays consider the eating of animals unethical. Whereas there are different views on this should we not have found a less controversial way to induce the hunters to give up hunting?
We are doing what the local people want and what looks very likely to be effective. Much better both for them and the environment that they farm pigs rather than hunt wild animals. Animal farming is generally acceptable to most people and we believe that these people have a right to decide for themselves what they do.
Why are we providing animal farming when climate change is such a big issue and meat consumption is considered a major factor?
We are simply substituting one form of meat consumption for another better one for people whose meat consumption is low. Some meat can provide essential nutrients to these people and the reduction should be made by those whose consumption is high. It is the large scale industrial production of meat that is the major problem. Unlike cattle pigs do not produce methane. We ruled out goats for that reason.
We have many rewards to thank you for your support. We hope that you will like. You may of course make a donation without a reward, but be assured, we are very happy to give these small tokens of our appreciation to all the wonderful people who support us.
NB.We regret that we are unable to offer rewards to non-UK addresses, except for greeting cards.
The images of rewards below are not to scale.
We want to say thank you very much to all the people who donated rewards to us.
This project offered rewards