Plant a Million Trees

The rural areas of Zambia are greatly suffering from deforestation. Zambia is losing 276,000 ha of forest per year, making a loss of over 100 million trees or roughly 6% of native (‘wild’) trees per year due to illegal logging. To counteract this phenomenon, the Government of Zambia has launched the “Plant a Million Trees” campaign. The campaign’s objective is not just to plant trees, but to foster a ‘tree-based-economy’ with the aim of diversifying the country’s economy and ending its copper dependency. This will be done through cultivation of sustainable timber, agri-food processing, planting of exotic and indigenous fruit trees, nut trees and other edible foliage, manufacturing wood for wood products, and many other additional endeavors.

The goal is to create 300,000 new jobs in the planting, maintenance and sustainable exploitation of the trees. In order to make the initiative economically viable in the long-term, the Government of Zambia will also facilitate the enabling environment for and incentives to promote ‘value-addition’ industries for trees, including bio-oils, fruit juices, furniture and other wood- products. A key part of the project is the creation of tree nurseries to continuously supply new plants in the targeted areas. Moreover, to train future generations, a 30 % share of the profits will be channeled into an educational fund for children and youth.

The length of time until profitability will be directly affected bythe growth-rate of the trees and the yield of tree-products (fruits/oil/nuts/ timber, etc). In order to achieve income in the shortest possible time-frame some fast- growing species will be included, e.g. moringa and bamboo, which will yield a harvest in 1 – 2 years. The wider economy in the area will move in tandem as bamboo will be harvested for use and processed locally while the moringa leaves can be picked, dried and ground locally too. The target Internal Rate of Return (IRR) is 20%+ for the business ventures through value- added products sold locally, regionally and on international markets.

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Article: Plant a Million Trees