Greenpop. Cape Town’s coolest and fastest growing environmental enterprise.
After launching two years ago, Greenpop certainly have their feet planted firmly in the ground, with over 17,000 trees planted in 210 locations, benefiting almost 100,000 people. Greenpop have stepped outside of South Africa in an attempt to tackle the degradation of Africa’s forests.
Zambia has seen rampant deforestation in recent decades, mainly as a result of bad land management, slash and burn farming methods, unsustainable logging and tree cutting for charcoal. According to the UN-REDD programme, Zambia has approximately 50 million hectares of forest, with an estimated deforestation rate of 250,000 to 300,000 hectares per year.
Deforestation in a country like Zambia can have catastrophic outcomes. A change in local ecosystems directly relates to a loss of biodiversity and increased potentials of both drought and flooding. Ultimately, deforestation will cause reductions in agricultural yields, which in turn, will affect food security.
In 2012, Greenpop launched Trees for Zambia, a reforestation and eco-awareness project which began with a 3-week tree planting event and was followed by an ongoing campaign to inspire awareness about deforestation, climate change, tree planting, environmental sustainability and alternative energy sources. Partnerships were built with local authorities and NGOs, and in the 3 weeks, Greenpop successfully planted 4135 trees with the help of local and international volunteers.
A variety of indigenous and fruit trees were planted. All of the trees were bought locally, allowing Greenpops support for the local economy to shine through. Greenpop rely heavily on donations from around the globe to be able to carry out projects such as Trees for Zambia.
With the help of the Conservation Farming Unit (CFU), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the Department of Forestry and the Ministry of Agriculture, Greenpop will be facilitating workshops for setting up micro-nurseries for local farmers and community members. Greenpops aim is to be able to buy from these nurseries this year for the Trees for Zambia Project and conservation efforts in the area.
In collaboration with the Department of Education, Greenpop have introduced a creative education programme, that teachers children the importance of their natural environment and actually gets them involved in the tree planting process. This year, Greenpop will introduce their One Child, One Tree programme, which will see each child taking responsibility for a tree.
2013 will also see the promotion of conservation farming methods through the launch of Greenpop’s workshops that teach local farmers how to successfully move away from their traditional farming methods (Chitemore) that cause soil degradation and deforestation.
Traditionally, wood and charcoal are used for cooking and heating, and contribute to serve deforestation. Greenpop will launch a project which will spread the use of solar powered cookers to combat the traditional way of cooking. Solar cookers will be made from 99% found materials, including cardboard boxes, old crisp packers, tape and wood glue, and communities will be taught and trained to use this method effectively.
Almost a year after the initial start-up project, levels of excitement and interest are flourishing. High levels of sustainability have been brought to the forefront in this innovative reforestation project, ensuring that the community will continue their involvement and the education will keep flowing.
Greenpop have big dreams for Trees for Zambia as a long term project, but judging by the success of 2012’s initial event, it looks as though the project will be growing up and branching out this year.
Photographs © Kate Pettit