The rhythmic beat of the African drum moves through the air as the Peace Parks team is warmly welcomed with song and dance by the Simalaha Community Conservancy residents.  Despite the soaring temperatures, there is a flurry of activity and excited chatter coming from a patch of dusty, sunbaked earth as the Peace Parks team is surrounded by a group of schoolchildren who are going to plant saplings using the biodegradable Groasis Waterboxx®.

Within the next couple of years, this landscape will soon be transformed into an unrecognisable patch of land filled with indigenous fruit-bearing trees such as lemon, guava and mango. This has been made possible by utilising the innovative Groasis Waterboxx®, an environmentally friendly planter box created by Dutch inventor, Pieter Hoff. The boxes are designed to restore degraded forests, provide food security to rural communities and with its ecological water saving technology, is perfect for drought-prone areas with a 90% tree survival rate.

So far, over 10 000 boxes have been donated to communities within Simalaha by the COmON Foundation. You can watch this video for more information on how these nifty planter boxes work.

One of the main hopes with the Groasis Waterboxx® is to reduce deforestation in conservation areas such as Simalaha whereby many large trees have been cut down and used for cooking or illegal charcoaling. Through providing fuel-efficient cooking solutions such as cookstoves, Peace Parks Foundation, with support from the COmON Foundation, has contributed to the reduction of wood and charcoal consumption.

Apart from assisting with reforestation, planting both fruit and nut trees provide the community with food security and assists in additional dietary sustenance. If there is a surplus of fruit, the fresh produce can then be taken to markets providing the community with an alternative source of income.

The introduction of planter boxes forms a part of Peace Parks Foundation’s bigger vision of providing environmental education and awareness to communities surrounding conservation areas. In Simalaha, through the collaborative efforts of the outreach programme Children in the Wilderness, seeds of knowledge are planted amongst primary school children as they are taught about the important role that nature plays in our survival, and through having to tend to a tree of their own, instils within them a sense of responsibility and pride.

Be sure to keep watching Peace Parks TV to see how these trees continue to grow and provide for the community.