Defragmenting forests in biodiversity hotspots using meliponiculture and agroforestry as ecological corridors.
Reducing fragmentation of forests in biodiverse hotspots of East Africa through the planting of fruit trees and other agroforestry practise
I confirm that I am fully aware of the eligibility criteria and terms of the Act for Biodiversity Challenge and that I am eligible to apply.
I am 18 years old or older.
Agroforestry practised in tandem with meliponiculture in a biodiverse hotspot of Kenya
Initiative's representative name
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Headquarters location: city
Where are you making a difference?
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Growth (have moved past the very first activities; working toward the next level of expansion)
Yearly Budget : What is your current yearly budget for the initiative?
1. Founding story: Share a story about the "Aha!" moment that led the founder(s) to get started or the story of how you saw the potential for this project to succeed.
Most rural communities in East Africa are dependent on forest ecosystems for food, fodder, medicine and other sources of sustenance, albeit the existence of accelerated depletion of natural resources has further eroded biodiversity on all levels. Meliponine bees are highly abundant within this biodiversity hotspot and are mainly hunted for their medicinal honey, but since they mostly nest in trees, such trees have to be felled to harvest its honey. The changing moment came when the project team taught the rural community how to domesticate meliponine bees in man-made hives, source new colonies from live trees using non-destructive methods, thus reducing fragmentation in habitats and preserving biodiversity of forest biomes.
2. The problem: What problem are you helping to solve?
Most forests in the Afro-montane biodiversity hotspots of East Africa are heavily degraded, and certain drivers of this change are attributed to agricultural related activities and expansion within these regions. Most rural communities in East Africa are dependent on forest ecosystems for food, fodder, medicine and other sources of sustenance, albeit the existence of accelerated depletion of natural resources has further eroded biodiversity on all levels.
3. Your solution: How are you working to solve this problem? Share your specific approach.
Rural communities are shown and taught how to domesticate meliponine bees in man-made hives, sourcing new colonies from live trees using non-destructive methods, planting native trees which are endemic to the area thus reducing fragmentation in habitats and preserving biodiversity of forest biomes.
4. Innovation: How are you innovating or using unique approaches to solve the problem?
We are also employing innovative methods in domestication such as the use of other nesting materials for the meliponine bees such as clay pots, discarded thermos flasks and dead logs. The project team had noticed that these bees never absconded or moved far way from the mother colony, and this was good news for surrounding trees because you can have one mother colony and several other daughter colonies number as high as ten in number. We made sure that locals could source for new colonies from surrounding live trees using non-destructive methods, thereby preserving the natural forest systems where these meliponine bees naturally occur.
5. Collaboration: How does your initiative seek to bring key players together to preserve biodiversity?
This project has already identified with several farmers from two main villages in Kenya (Kakamega and Taita) where they have shown significant interest in restoring their fragmented forests and its related biodiversity while simultaneously improving their livelihoods through meliponiculture. Numerous projects have been adopted by icipe (international center for insect physiology and ecology) and also the scientific community after seeing the huge potential meliponiculture can contribute to food security and biodiversity conservation.
6. Impact: how has your project made a difference so far — in terms of both business outputs and social impact? How do you plan on measuring progress?
Farmers have began to see the numerous benefits of domesticating these species, and this has spurred on to become a small scale business venture for a number of farmer groups in Taita and Kakamega cities where this venture is adopted.
7. Growth strategies: what are your main strategies for scaling your impact?
We intend to develop and expand our trainings to more geographic regions and areas bordering the afromontane biodiversity hotspot. We would also like to open a franchise for female meliponine bee keepers to provide more organised markets for their products like also teaching them the best practises to adopt for sustainable forests.
8. Creating shared value: How does your initiative create value for society? Or different stakeholders?
Conserving our forests is one of the most potent ways to ensure the preservation of earth's biodiversity, and meliponiculture has shown to be an innovative way to create shared value about biodiversity for the society and for the human populace. Meliponiculture farmers are gradually reaping benefits from the domesticating of the species while simultaneously protecting the forests which is highly needed for these pollinators to thrive.
9. Financial sustainability plan: can you tell us about your plan to fund your project and how that plan will be sustainable in the short, medium, and long term?
We intend to use crowd funding platforms to raise funds for this project on the long run. We are motivated strongly by gender inclusion in sustainable practises to achieve SDG goals, hence we would adopt 50 females from 5 villages already practising meliponiculture and expand their ventures to include tree planting, agroforestry practises while simultaneously integrating meliponiculture into it.
10. Team: what is the current composition of your current team (types of roles, qualifications, full-time vs. part-time, board members, etc.), and how do you plan to evolve the team’s composition as the project grows?
The current team members comprise of 2 entomologists, 4 farmers, 1 village head and 5 community mobilizers. This diverse team mix helps the success of our project, monitoring and evaluation through the different roles that each person plays.
11. How did you hear about this challenge?