Cultivating Tomorrow's Green Leaders: Landscape Restoration in Kalemie

In July and September of 2023, the University of Kalemie (UNIKAL) partnered with the US Forest Service (USFS) to launch practical training programs focused on landscape restoration. These programs engaged over 300 students, all between the ages of 18 and 25, from the University’s Agricultural Sciences faculty.

The training sessions included both theoretical and practical segments. Led by Semenyo Nyakokpa, a USFS Reforestation Specialist, lessons covered seed treatment, germination methods, and seedling care. Nyakokpa demonstrated practical techniques utilizing local resources to enhance seedling growth conditions.

Semenyo Nyakokpa, a USFS Reforestation Specialist, gave lectures on seed treatment, germination methods, and seedling care. Photo courtesy of Vincent Salumu.

The emphasis of the training was on reforestation methods, plant cultivation, and overseeing reforested areas. Students learned about the importance of reforestation and mastered techniques including plot preparation and demarcation, planting methods, and ongoing plant care, focusing on forest, fruit, and ornamental plant production.

The hands-on segment held at the UNIKAL experimental farm provided students with practical experience in planting methods and plant management. They learned about the benefits of planting and creating optimal nursery locations in their communities. Topics included selecting the best nursery site, mastering techniques for effective plant production, weaning, seed harvesting, processing, and conservation, as well as potting, sowing, watering, and plant care. Additionally, the training highlighted the advantages of compost and taught students how to create compost using specific methods and techniques.

Beyond the classroom, students were encouraged to initiate their own entrepreneurial ventures by establishing nurseries at home. Photo courtesy of Semenyo Nyakokpa, U.S. Forest Service International Programs.

By the end of the trainings, the students had planted 7,500 seedlings. Beyond the classroom, students were encouraged to initiate their own entrepreneurial ventures by establishing nurseries at home. The revenue generated from their efforts may end up supporting further educational pursuits, help them to expand their nursery operations, and contribute to addressing food insecurity in their communities.

Supported by the US Department of State’s Conserving Critical Congo Basin Forests (C3BF) project, this training aimed to equip youth with practical skills for climate-resilient practices, contributing to environmental conservation efforts. C3BF, funded by the U.S. Department of State Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs (OES), aims to provide technical assistance for conserving Congo Basin forests, preventing deforestation, increasing forest cover, and promoting national afforestation and reforestation efforts. USFS will continue to support youth engaged in climate initiatives, empowering them to play significant roles in sustainable land management and broader climate change mitigation initiatives.

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