SeedTree Annual Report
Unexpected opportunity led us to concentrate this year with SeedTree Nepal. We are pleased to report progress and promising new approaches, program areas and alliances.
Approaches: As the causes of deforestation are many and intertwined, we are developing an array of approaches to secure enduring solutions. This year our approaches span the spectrum from collecting seed of rare species to initiating a system of certifying forest products "sustainably grown and harvested". All our programs begin with a careful dialogue to determine the communities’ interest.
Tree planting remains our initial "ground-breaking" activity in nearly all communities. Motivated by discussions of the many values of diverse tree species, self-selecting groups arise to work as a team toward long-range goals. This has immediate psychological and social benefits in addition to the many rewards the rapidly growing trees soon begin to bring. Each year SeedTree adds some new approach or appropriate technology to uplift both human and biological communities: from latrines in '98 to attaching home biogas generating systems since '99, from hand pumps in '96 to community reservoirs in '02.
New approaches added this year:
As SeedTree envoys were bicycling last year to project sites in the remote area of Chitwan called Madi, leaders of Dikurbari (Dove Garden, left) village halted us on the path, requesting teachers for the simple schoolhouse they had built. Their request prompted us to develop a rural environmental education course, publishing a 56 page illustrated manual: "Ourselves and our Environment," written in clear and simple Nepalese by our Program Manager, Bishnu Kumar B.K. (Madab K.C.’s cover illustrations, below).
One teacher, usually a woman selected from the community, receives training to teach topics, lead discussions and evaluate progress. The manual explains concepts, identifies problems and proposes solutions. From the home with family hygiene, fuel and waste management, topics range from kitchen gardening, soil, its fertility, erosion and conservation; causes, effects and reversal of deforestation, regeneration of declining species, seed collection, establishing and managing private and Community Forests, agroforestry, air, water, pollution, climate change, biodiversity importance and conservation. We are conducting these Environmental Education classes in 6 Chitwan villages, and preparing soon to teach more in Parbat.
We extended use of Community Environmental Trust Funds, successfully piloted last year. An anonymous couple sponsored one at Dikhurbari, Chitwan and we started three in Parbat. By extending micro-credit to community members for their own ecologically beneficial projects, these trusts keep our endowed resources working in the communities to revolve and grow indefinitely. We are carefully developing trusts to foster self-reliance and multiply benefits.
In addition to biogas plants, we added to our renewable and energy conserving technologies, education in utilizing solar energy options for water heating and electricity. We also began a program for improved smokeless cooking stoves (ICS) in three districts. Like the traditional stoves they replace, ours are made with local clay and stone, but improve efficiency, conserving about 25% firewood, saving gathering time and forest resources. The added chimneys contribute greatly to a healthy home environment, particularly benefiting women and small children. While biogas plants usually require a cow or buffalo, our stoves benefit even the poorest homes.
Donor Partners large and small sewed seeds of 2002's success. We are particularly grateful to those allowing us flexibility to the changing conditions within Nepal. One special donor, impressed with SeedTree’s cost-effectiveness and follow-through, challenged SeedTree to see what we could do with a $10,000 matching grant. Debley Foundation, OUEST (Occidental United Eastern and Southern Transfers) and a private donor provided the match. This faith and generosity enabled SeedTree to start 2002 by proposing to the UN Development Programme’s / Global Environment Facility / Small Grants Programme (GEF/SGP) an Integrated Human Ecology Project (IHEP) to serve two adjoining municipalities in Parbat.
Pending a decision from UNDP/GEF/SGP, we embarked upon a new season in our on-going SeedTree program, adapting to the escalating domestic strife. Frequent national shutdowns, destruction of infrastructure and terrorism hamper progress. Yet our steadfast support is appreciated more than ever. We began what appeared a very promising program in Gulmi, but lost contact after rebels destroyed Gulmi's transmitter. In April, we withdrew from southern Parbat after a range post, temporarily storing seed and nursery bags for two villages, was burned. In Dang, too, arson damaged an office of the Tulsi Boarding School where we send five girls, but no injury occurred. The girls are fine. They are doing well in school, triumphing over stereotypes associated with their abject caste status. All Dang’s delayed 2001 work is now done. The delayed deep well was completed under budget, allowing an extra 3 biogas plants to be added to the 3 built this year.
We are also making quiet but steady progress there with nurseries and particularly, with improved cooking stoves. Avoiding public gatherings or training workshops, stove maker Sakkal Chaudhari goes from home to home, completing 23 improved stoves to date.
Our central Chitwan Program continues peacefully and productively, continuing to attract new groups requesting our program. Among the trees planted in Chitwan were 40,000 mulberry trees, grown from cuttings. The versatile mulberry also provides fruit and fodder for cattle. With the silkworms we provided, growers can earn over $1,580.00. Some of the farmers are raising more silkworms to continue the program. This year we found good seed for cinnamon in Kaski. This desirable species is often cropped, as in Chitwan (below), so as to produce little seed. Prem Neupane, now coordinates with administrators and student groups at the Institute of Forestry, Kaski, where we supported a demonstration and research nursery, particularly for non-timber product producing trees. Prem also organized a three-day workshop there for key people from IOF, Parbat and Tanahu, covering a host of integrated topics.
The 2001 flood mark from Chitwan (above) reveals typical flooding. Annually monsoon rains wash away 40 million tons of soil. The 2002 monsoon brought the worst flooding in three decades with destruction of lives, lands and property. It took a heavy toll on our nurseries, particularly in hill districts.
Yet the photos above - all in Parbat - reveal the promise of our perseverance. New roads exacerbate already severe erosion. Yet, our nurseries, like this one in Durlung, stock beneficial community tree planting projects as on Pang hillside, 3rd photo. In the 4th in Jauri Community Forest, Kurkot, Hem Raj Sharma shows results 18 years after he led such community reforestation on bare hillside. The forest attracts wildlife that bring in seeds of many non-planted species. It halts erosion, provides abundant firewood and ample timber for members. We supported a nursery for profitable enrichment plantings of valuable species growing well in the forest’s protection. Jauri Community Forest User Group is now developing a few non-timber forest products such as broom grass. We proposed an innovative market incentive approach to assist this latter stage of community forest management in our proposal to UNDP/GEF/SGP: to implement a system of certifying forest products: "sustainably grown and harvested."
This proposed innovation was key to our receiving on Earth Day, April 22, 2002, the good news that SeedTree Nepal’s Integrated Human Ecology Project was accepted by the UNDP/GEF/SGP. STN is now implementing this two year project serving two adjoining municipalities: Kurkot and Durlung of Parbat District. OUEST, had joined in partnership pledging $4000; SeedTree will contribute $8000 and management resources; as will GEF/SGP provide $45,000. The municipalities have also pledged support. 75% of these funds will go directly to the communities for human resource development, small grants and endowments to the Community Environmental Trust Funds, providing extraordinary opportunities to improve conditions in these communities.
IHEP’s workplan details and schedules output-specific objectives: for biodiversity conservation, improved water quality and to reduce soil erosion into international waterways, implement certification of "sustainably grown" forest products, promote renewable alternative energy resources, improve socio-economic condition in the communities, develop manuals, documentation and outreach materials, etc. IHEP is now mobilizing community organizations which will form the Community Environmental Trusts.
Our SeedTree Board Chairman Dr. Tom Hammett, has been teaching us and our friends in Nepal, about forest certification for several years. While in Nepal to evaluate their forestry for USAID, Dr. Hammett presented the topic with slides June 10th at GEF/SGP, Kathmandu. Representatives of STN, GEF/SGP, SeedTree Director Carol Kinsey, community leaders from IHEP, and other interested persons attended the working session. All saw great potential rewards for Nepal, especially for getting returns to those at the local level. Already Sampson Lumber in Maine has expressed interest in purchasing certified forest products from Nepal. Nepal needs any market advantage possible to pull out of its status as 8th poorest nation. Such a partner as UNDP/GEF multiplies opportunities for replication of a successful project. There are many phases to securing certification; much remains to be done. As SeedTree is a donor to IHEP, not a recipient, we seek additional funds to assure their success.
Our new Information Officer Emily Duffy, spends long hours writing html for our website. Please do visit www.seedtree.org. The site attracts thousands of visitors and many inquiries from all over the world. Emily has added convenient ways to support SeedTree’s work through online shopping or donation. E.P.A.Net said it is "earth friendly, informative and benefits universal welfare."
Go to the 2001 Annual Report for that news archives.
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