Developing sustainable livelihood initiatives for forest users
ZSL and ECN started the Salakpra Elephant Ecosystem Conservation Alliance (SEECA) to develop conservation-development projects that would reduce the impact of forest users on the environment, taking pressure off the elephants while at the same time providing the villagers with much needed income.
The project began by identifying sustainable livelihood options for forest users and preparing project action plans. Every group member completed a questionnaire about their forest use and income per activity so that we know what each person must earn to equal the money derived from forest resources.
With the help of some training and modest start-up funds, eleven small projects in five villages are now underway. The initiative has been greeted with much enthusiasm and is highly regarded in the area.
So far, we have ten working groups tackling six activities: mushroom farming, sewing, fruit drying, rubbish recycling, herbal nurseries for traditional remedies and indigenous tree nurseries.
All enterprises are underway and despite being too small scale at present to make a viable living, it has still been enough to demonstrate the project’s potential.