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WCS and the non-profit search engine Ecosia announced today a massive effort to replant some 900,000 trees in degraded landscapes in Tanzania.
The planting will take place over two years in Tanzania’s iconic Southern Highlands region, primarily in and around Mt Rungwe and the Njombe forests.
Most of the trees will be planted to restore areas of the park and reserves that have been affected by fire or illegal timber cutting. Some will help villages restore forest cover in important water catchment areas, helping to protect streams and ensure a regular supply of clean water.
Other trees will be planted on farms, and in the future can be pruned for fuel wood, helping to reduce dependencies on the natural forest. Ninety percent of the trees will be native species.
Previous projects have enabled the restoration of water catchments around Rungwe and Kitulo National Park, with more than 2 million trees planted thus far.
WCS Southern Highlands Conservation Project began in 2000 to conserve montane forests and plateau grasslands of Mt Rungwe and Kitulo Plateau in southwest Tanzania. WCS initiated restoration work to restore degraded forest areas of parks and reserves to increase wildlife connectivity – especially for the kipunji (Rungwecebus kipunji) a new primate discovered in 2005 by WCS and the first new monkey genus in Africa to be discovered since 1923. Other key species found in the region include Abbott’s duiker, Rungwe galago, leopard, serval and seven species of chameleons, four of them endemic. In addition, the Highlands provide vital natural resources to national and local economies, particularly water catchment services and carbon sinks. The program’s goal is to conserve and manage key upland species and habitats for the benefit of wildlife and people alike.
Said Tim Rayden of WCS’s Conservation Science and Solutions Program: “Planting trees is only part of the work we do. Conserving forests and allowing trees to regenerate naturally is much more important where it is possible. But engaging people in restoration, as we can through this collaboration with Ecosia, helps us raise awareness of the importance of forests and build consensus for conservation. We hope this is just the beginning, and we look forward to continuing to work with Ecosia in Tanzania and elsewhere.”
Based in Berlin, Germany, Ecosia is a search engine that uses its profits to plant trees. The certified B Corporation has planted more than 85 million trees across 31 reforestation sites worldwide, including sites in Madagascar, Brazil, Burkina Faso and Uganda.
Christian Kroll, CEO of Ecosia, said: “We are excited to regenerate the Southern Highlands with WCS and raise awareness of this unique ecosystem among our 15 million users. This will be Ecosia's 18th project in Africa. We’ve seen first hand that the positive impact of trees goes far beyond sequestering carbon - they provide food and shelter, boost the water cycle, support communities of subsistence farmers by enriching the soil, and help provide and preserve habitats for endangered species. We look forward to growing this project together.”
Pieter van Midwoud, Chief Tree Planting Officer at Ecosia said: "We choose our partners very carefully as it’s critical that the trees we plant don’t just survive, but thrive, in order to bring the best possible value to humans, wildlife and nature. The WCS team takes a very holistic approach to restoration, also focusing on the livelihoods of local communities by bringing in fast-growing timber species and fruit trees. They prioritize native species for forest restoration, which is essential for diverse and natural ecosystems. We’re really happy to work with such a respected partner!"
WCS Tanzania Southern Highlands is also supported by the Trillion Trees programme a 25-year initiative among WCS, BirdLife International, and WWF to help implement and scale global forest commitments and spur greater ambitions towards protecting and restoring one trillion trees by 2050—maximizing the land sector’s contribution to a safe and stable climate.
Headquartered in Berlin, Germany, Ecosia is the world’s largest not-for-profit search engine. The start-up has planted more than 85 million trees across 31 reforestation sites worldwide. In 2018 Ecosia gave away its shares to the Purpose Foundation, to assure that its founders can never take profits out of the company or receive dividends. Ecosia is an accredited B Corporation and has built two solar plants to ensure it is 100% renewable. The company was founded by Christian Kroll in 2009.