In Wadouba Commune of Mali, deforestation and desertification are serious problems that affect the well-being of villagers, contributing to food insecurity and causing increasing needs for new water resources. Fifteen villages have come together and created an association, Ologuelemo, to protect the remaining trees in their area and promote the assisted regeneration of trees in the fields, practices which help both the environment and crop yields. In Mali, such formal organizations allow villagers more respect in their communities, greater access to community decision making processes, and more support from the government, both financial and technical. Tandana strives to help these village-run associations to be as effective as possible in achieving their goals.
Many communities in Ecuador's Quichinche parish also recognize the importance of reforestation for protecting their water sources, windbreaks, pasture conservation, beautifying their villages, and promoting biodiversity and clean air. Schools take the lead in this effort, teaching students the appreciation and skills of caring for native trees. Tandana often supports these grassroots efforts to care for the local environment and show love for Pachamama, or Mother Earth. We provide native trees, such as alder, acacia, and pumamaki from the UCINQUI native tree nursery to communities and schools and sometimes also fencing materials to protect them. Often Tandana volunteers pitch in, working alongside villagers and students to plant trees. Tandana has provided over 3500 trees for these efforts.
UCINQUI, the Union of Indigenous Communities of Quichinche, has taken the lead in promoting reforestation and counteracting the negative environmental impacts of the cement factory located in the parish. UCINQUI owns a native tree nursery that is staffed by one very dedicated tree-lover, Matias Perugachi. With thousands of young trees to take care of and prepare for use in reforestation projects, pasture conservation, and environmental restoration, Matias can hardly keep up with the work on his own. Tandana volunteers often help out when he is busiest, trimming roots, moving young trees, and weeding. In 2011, UCINQUI moved the nursery from borrowed land to a plot in Achupallas that the Union owns. Tandana helped to construct an acclimatization area for the tree seedlings at the new location, as well as a greenhouse, a water tank, and an office-storage building. With its fresh air, lush surroundings, and mountain views, the nursery is a pleasant place to work, but most importantly the work is clearly appreciated and important for sustaining the nursery and protecting the environment of Quichinche. Tandana volunteers have donated many hundreds of hours to the nursery, weeding, pruning, planting, preparing soil sacks, digging ditches, and assisting with construction projects. Tandana groups have also collected hundreds of seedlings and cut hundreds of suckers to start new plants for the nursery. Matias articulates Tandana's vision and unique approach in this message.
"I would like to thank the foundation and its volunteers for their support because I would not have been able to complete the work by myself. The nursery was in danger of collapsing and with the foundation's help we are pulling ourselves back up. My dream is to keep planting and diversify the species we have so that the nursery can continue supplying plants for reforestation and to protect our water sources."
Olouguelemo, an environmental association of 14 villages in Wadouba Commune, Mali, is committed to improving the natural environment on which their survival and well-being depends. They hold meetings to agree on policies and organize brigades to monitor the protected forests. Government forestry representatives preside over training sessions for representatives of all the member villages, explaining forestry policy, how the association can best coordinate with the ministry, and how to encourage regeneration of trees as well as answering villagers' questions.
Olouguelemo also organizes training and support for farmers who want to assist the natural regeneration of trees in their fields, a practice that halts deforestation and improves soil stability and fertility. By pruning trees properly, farmers can encourage them to grow up instead of out, so that their roots can prevent erosion and their leaves can add nutrients to the soil, without their branches blocking too much light from the crops. Over time, prunings from the encouraged trees can fulfill firewood needs.
Olouguelemo's next initiative was to start the local production and distribution of efficient cookstoves, to decrease the need for firewood that motivates cutting of trees. They organized a training session for representatives from each of the member villages, who learned how to make two kinds of cookstoves and are now fabricating those stoves for sale in their villages. Seeing the importance of Olouguelemo's work, seven additional villages decided to join the eight founding villages, so there are now 15 villages involved. Tandana has supported this association with the process of legal registration, training, and supplies.
Next, they plan to seek an agreement with the government to gain legal authority to manage the natural resources in their 15-village area, to undertake anti-erosion work in their entire zone, and to create two tree nurseries for reforestation.