All The Couples Dancing Cheek to Cheek
“I like to spend some time in Mozambique,” Bob Dylan sings. “The sunny sky is aqua blue, and all the couples dancing cheek to cheek.”
For many, the name Mozambique conjures blue skies, Indian Ocean, sandy beaches, tropical islands, fauna, flora and piri piri prawns. And while it may be home to all of those things, Mozambique has taken a battering recently.
The country has been devastated by civil unrest, assailed by poverty, besieged by Islamist militants, and now facing increasing food prices due to, among other things, Russia’s war in Ukraine. And the list goes on. People have been displaced, the economy is crumbling, and a once promising gas industry is stumbling.
Meanwhile, the country is prone to natural disasters including cyclones, floods, and droughts and, as a result, widespread crop failures are commonplace. Mozambique is one of the poorest countries on the planet.
Recently, it has been beset by COVID, while species of zebra, falcon and rhinoceros, among others, are endangered. Elephants, searching for food and water as they lose their forest habitats, are coming into conflict with humans. There’s even been a rare strain of wild polio. Not so much to dance about these days!
Mozambique, home to over 5,500 plant species, 740 species of birds, 80 reptile and amphibian species and 3,000 species of insects seems to radiate with biodiversity. Yet, the deforestation rates are alarmingly high. Slash and burn farming and illegal logging are two of the main culprits. Getting hit by three cyclones and two tropical storms in six weeks only makes things worse. How bad is it? Each year, Mozambique loses 541,000 acres of forest cover. That’s like losing one-third of the acreage of Devon, every year! We need to change that.
The crazy thing is planting trees will move the needle on a lot of the above issues, including reducing flood risk, increasing food production, decreasing poverty and famine, restoring habitat for the elephants, and effecting positive climate change through reforestation, clean water and carbon storage.
JUST ONE Tree planting half a million trees
Here at JUST ONE Tree, we're working together with Eden Reforestation Projects, planting half a million trees and reforesting vital native forests in Modo, a site within the Miomba woodland ecoregion.
In addition, JUST ONE Tree have funded the establishment of the nursery for this project.
A mainly dry woodland area of mopane forest and wetlands, Modo provides a habitat for various endangered species and is home to elephant, buffalo, greater kudu, eland, sable, bushbuck, and waterbuck .
Historically, the nearby forest has been crucial to providing income, medicinal products, food, and fuel for its inhabitants, resulting in deforestation and forest degradation.
The simple act of tree planting can work to resolve a whole host of challenges, employing the local villagers to plant a diverse mixture of native trees in the right places at the right time to restore their environment. The project will provide them with financial support through planting and protecting these trees rather than relying on agricultural produce that is continuously failing and causing conflict with the native fauna.
The project is expected to further reduce conflicts with elephants as we provide them with larger territories and alternative food resources. Those same elephants, known as the “mega-gardeners of the forest” boost carbon stocks and spread precious nutrients in the soil.
An increase in the number of trees will result in cleaner water and less flooding as the network of roots beneath the trees breaks up the soil structure, enabling water to run underground rather than on the surface. Storms and sudden increases in rainfall are therefore redirected safely under the ground and away from homes. This also results in a higher water table which means more accessible drinking water from wells and boreholes, increased food production, helping species survive and restoring peace to the elephants.
Sing it Bob: “I’d like to plant a tree in Mozambique. The growing forests are deep dark green, and all the elephants dancing cheek to cheek.”