Curving woods for artisans : Combination of tree planting and technical training

Situation in the Past
Many men and women used to rely on natural resources in the protected area due to poverty and culture. Once arrested by patrolling rangers, they would be jailed and would be forced to pay fines despite the high level of their poverty. This situation always tensed up the relationship between the park management and the surrounding communities. A long-term solution had to be created

Programs by POPOF-I
Pole Pole Foundation International started planting trees around the Kahuzi-Biega National Park in 1993. The planted trees serve to secure the park and reduce the illegal tree cutting. Also we set out on a program of providing technical training to some ex-poachers around KBNP in order to converting them to artisans.

These measures would also contribute to the benefits for the gorilla, their habitat’s protection and for the education of the new generations in the communities.

The local people received seedlings from POPOF-I, planted them in the fields and gardens, and harvested the trees for their needs such as poles, charcoals, planks. Among these distributed seedlings, there are trees like Markhamia lutea, Spathodea sp, etc. that are suitable for curving as well.

Artisans Receive Woods
In 2013, thanks to the Whitley Fund for Nature’s award, POPOF-I was able to buy some woods from farmers, which were distributed to them long time ago. And the ex-poachers, now trained and converted to artisans were able to carve and varnish 75 pieces of gorilla portraits.

Primary school pupils holding carved gorilla portraits

Teaching materials
We are using the wooden gorilla portraits as teaching materials in different schools (Kindergarten, elementary and secondary schools), for different groups and categories of men and women in both public and private sectors.

Many pupils and even adults have no chance to see a gorilla in its natural habitat like tourists do. But they have a chance to admire the portraits instead, which is important as well.

Challenge
POPOF-I is also selling some of the portraits to visitors although most tourists still fear to come to Eastern DRC although the security situation around KBNP is calm and safe.
A land and workshop are urgently needed for these artisans, the brave people who changed their way of life and started to contribute to the conservation.

We believe that everyone can change the situation and contribute to the society. Small donation like USD 5.- from each of the friends all over the world can make a big difference. It may help build up a fund to buy a land and build a workshop for these artisans and also it will also be a training center for new artisans to create more jobs.

By working together, we can do more to save our planet for the benefit of our next generations!

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