Reforesting South Sudanese refugee settlements:
The advent of rising sea levels, superstorms, and other extreme natural disasters will see a rise in climate change refugees over the coming decades. Sudden, high-density refugee settlements can leave an undeniable ecological scar because the basic need for food, shelter, and energy oblige refugees to rely on nearby forest and water resources.
Palorinya in northern Uganda is the second-largest refugee camp in Uganda, home to more than 100,000 South Sudanese refugees. In dryland areas like Palorinya, further loss of trees in dry forests leads to desertification, increased drought, and decreased food security due to irreversible soil loss and productivity. After a successful small-scale pilot, which demonstrated how community tree planting and tree care training can increase food security, WildFF has begun a landscape-scale research initiative to understand how to protect and restore forests in and around refugee settlements.
Understanding forest conservation best practices within refugee communities
The goal of this sustainable initiative is to help provide basic needs for refugees while protecting the local forests. Made from local materials like clay, grass, and water, the cookstoves are smokeless with high heat retention, providing a steady fire with regulated airflow. The purpose of constructing high-efficiency cookstoves is to decrease demand for fuelwood, as well as reduce indoor air pollution due to cooking fires. Currently, we have funded the construction of more than 2,000 cookstoves, which support about 100,000 refugees.
In total, the data we collect in northern Uganda will not only help to conserve local forests and improve the lives of tens of thousands of people but enable WildFF to contribute to the development of improved conservation practices worldwide.