Beyond Planting Trees

by Community Forests International on October 7, 2013

Tree planting is an act for the future, an act of stewardship that transcends the present.

In order to plant a tree for the future, we must secure the now. In 2011 Community Forests International visited a small islet off of Pemba called Kokota, in order to see if the village wanted to participate in the organization’s tree-planting effort. Although the interest was high and the village was excited to get started, one woman stood up during a community meeting and voiced an important question, ‘How can we grow trees if we don’t have water?’ The village of Kokota had no source for fresh water, as drilled wells had found only salt water. The community faced other challenges. They had no school, no electricity and no local food production. The community had started to build a school but had run out of funds before a roof could be put on the building. CFI provided the materials and the community provided the transportation and labour. Each day boats would ply the 2-hour stretch between Pemba and Kokota, moving sand, water, cement, steel roofing and bricks. After months of community-led effort a roof was put on the school, serving to shelter the students and collect much-needed rainwater. The villages didn’t stop there. With CFI support the community has built a solar energy grid, planted over 15 acres of food crops, planted 52,000 trees, built fuel-efficient cook stoves and have begun constructing homes from earth blocks. Communities have even eliminated the need to cut trees for charcoal by using a wooden press to compact organic waste material into burnable briquettes that can be used for cooking. “In order to build the water tank Kokotan’s had to dig down a meter through hard coral rock. They worked from sunup to sundown with pick axes chipping away for over a month. I’ve never seen so people work so hard, the need was so high. We worked hard and in the end we transformed Kokota into a model of sustainability.” - Jeff Schnurr,  Co-founder and executive director, Community Forests International

Let's make Kokota a model for community-led change around the world  

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