CONGO BASIN DEFORESTATION

18-Apr-2005
The Congo Basin forest is the second biggest tropical forest region after the Amazon. Slash and burn cultivation is a threat to the forest. If deforestation goes on at its present pace, about 70 percent of the forest in the Congo Basin may be gone by 2040. MEA
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STORY: CONGO BASIN DEFORESTATION

TRT: 3.41

SOURCE: MEA

RESTRICTIONS: NONE

LANGUAGE: CH 1 ENGLISH / NATS
CH 2 ENGLISH / NATS

DATELINE: RECENT
SHOTLIST
1. Various shots, lush verdant forest and trees
2. Various shots, village of Belo
3. Various shots, children and women in village
4. Close up, Comfort filling bucket
5. Wide shot, Comfort leaving house
6. Wide shot, Comfort walking to nursery
7. Med shot, Comfort putting water in to her bucket
8. Wide shot, Comfort approaching propagator
9. SOUNDBITE (English) Comfort Lo-ah-Mifacig, Belo Nursery:
(starts under video) "Normally in this community most of the farmers around don't have plums or safu in their farms, in their areas. The reasons being the safu tree will take eight or nine years before it starts giving fruit. But with the technology we have here the safu tree will start giving fruits from three to four years. It increases their income because from now if a farmer knows that if he plants a safu tree and harvests after three years equally it will help that farmer to pay his student school fees, pay hospital bills, and pay electricity bills."
10. Various shots, safu tree
11. Wide shot, market
12. Med shot, boy buying plums from women
13. Close up, plums
14. Med shot, boy pays for plums
15. Various shots, Bangha Anthony working on tree
16. SOUNDBITE (English) Bangha Anthony, Farmer:
" This nursery has changed my life completely, because the trees, the fruit trees that we were planting before hand they stayed more than ten to fifteen years before bearing and when I joined the nursery, I found out I will plant trees and harvest earlier."
17.SOUNDBITE (English) Zac Tchoundieu, World Agroforestry Centre:
"Is it possible to have economic growth without damaging the nature? This is exactly the answer of participatory tree domestication. This is what we are trying to address. If you cultivate on large scale exotic species not adapted to their environment you harm the environment. But by cultivating this well adapted species in their ecosystem you don't harm the nature."
18. Various shots, children filling bags with soil
STORYLINE
The Congo Basin forest is the second biggest tropical forest region after the Amazon. Stretching across 190 million hectares, it is home to half the continent's wild animals, as well as more than 10,000 recorded plant species.

In the village of Belo, a farming community, slash and burn cultivation is a threat to the forest. If deforestation goes on at its present pace, about 70 percent of the forest in the Congo Basin may be gone by 2040.

Millennium Assessment field workers have been developing farming techniques in this region since 1998. Every morning Comfort Lo-ah-Mifacig leaves her family to go to the local nursery that she runs. Until the intervention Comfort and others farmers in this region cultivated cash crops like cocoa and coffee. This made them vulnerable to price fluctuation, but Comfort has been part of the team that has worked closely with communities like Belo.

SOUNDBITE (English) Comfort Lo-ah-Mifacig, Belo Nursery:
"Normally in this community most of the farmers around don't have plums or safu in their farms, in their areas. The reasons being the safu tree will take eight or nine years before it starts giving fruit. But with the technology we have here, the safu tree will start giving fruits from three to four years. It increases their income because from now if a farmer knows that if he plants a safu tree and harvests after three years equally it will help that farmer to pay his student school fees, pay hospital bills, and pay electricity bills."

The aim has been to pinpoint high value indigenous fruit trees that are a realistic alternative for farmers, earning them regular money while also ending the traditional slash and burn farming. Using propagation techniques, Comfort has encouraged farmers here to plant safu, or African plum tree.

The safu tree has transformed the fortunes of the villagers. In the last four years, project researchers say income for farmers has increased between twenty to thirty percent.

Today almost one hundred villages are taking part in tree domestication in Cameroon. The safu fruit, or African plum, is used widely both nationally and internationally. Millennium partners are hoping to extend the techniques throughout the Congo Basin, Gabon, Equatorial Guinea and the DRC. Organizers say the results of the work are helping reduce poverty in the region, one of the principal goals of the Millennium Assessment.

Farmer Bangha Anthony stimulates rooting on a safu tree by covering it in sawdust - something he learned at the nursery.

SOUNDBITE (English) Bangha Anthony, Farmer:
"This nursery has changed my life completely, because the trees, the fruit trees that we were planting before hand they stayed ten to fifteen years before bearing and when I joined the nursery I found out I will plant trees and harvest earlier."

SOUNDBITE (English) Zac Tchoundieu, World Agroforestry Centre:
"Is it possible to have economic growth without damaging the nature? This is exactly the answer of participatory tree domestication. This is what we are trying to address. If you cultivate on large scale exotic species not adapted to their environment you harm the environment. But by cultivating this well adapted species in their ecosystem you don't harm the nature."

Where once the values of slash and burn farming were taught to children, today in Belo the lesson is in reinvigorating soil using natural nutrients. The planting of safu is being passed on to the next generation.
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