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The heroes of Mozambique’s hardwood forests

It’s a predicament as old as the industrial revolution: is the progress of an economy worth the toll on its environmental resources? For Mozambique, a country that finds itself trying to rebuild from the ruins of civil war, the question becomes even more urgent.

A report from Al Jazeera’s environmental show Earthrise looks at the threat posed to the forest by loggers and laymen, who burn the trees for charcoal, and how this unsustainable logging is destroying a precious natural resource, putting livelihoods at risk, and contributing to climate change.

Now the Mezimbite Forest Centre, seeks to plant new seeds – both in the soil and in the minds of Mozambicans – to save the forests.

Ruy Santos, an architect, designer and second-in-command at Mezimbite, says the centre’s activities are about providing an alternative to desperate Mozambicans, who “have all these fantastic resources but don’t know how to use them”.

As well as planting and cultivating more than 10-million trees over the years to combat the logging industry’s damage, the centre also has a design and production division that uses loggers’ offcuts and other sustainable natural resources to create high-end products for sale locally and internationally.

Add a specialised skills development programme for bespoke design production, and education programmes for children in the community, and you have an organisation concerned with nurturing saplings of the plant and people varieties.

Cultivating a natural resource, creating sustainable work, developing skills and pouring funds into education all at once? It’s a lesson South Africa would do well to learn from.

Watch the full report here:

– Featured image: via WikiMedia Commons.

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