The Trees for Life programme, which has its roots in the idea that unemployed, destitute and marginalised communities can ‘grow’ themselves out of poverty has again delivered remarkable results since its inception in 2004. The true impact of the programme remains in the testimonies of the many people who are able to improve their quality of life through the trees they grow.
With continued support from key government and business donors Wildlands bartered a total of 1 360 465 indigenous trees from community-based Tree-preneuers during the past year. The trees were bartered for a total value of R8 817 616, an increase of more than R1 million from the previous financial year. In total 2 547 Tree-preneurs traded their trees with Wildlands during the last year, earning an average of R3 462 in barter goods per Tree-preneur.
The impact of these trades on the quality of the lives of individual Tree-preneurs is measured in the nature of barter goods available to them. During the past year the biggest focus was on water security and transport.
This was realised through the trade of some 263 JoJo water tanks. In addition, Tree-preneurs traded for food, in the form of health and wellness hampers and grocery vouchers and for small business development grants. These goods have played an important role in improving nutrition in Wildlands’ Tree-preneur communities and in nurturing a sense of entrepreneurship for Tree-preneurs to follow other business interests. The latter was especially significant as it was the first time Wildlands bartered trees for money, enabling Tree-preneurs to fund new business ventures. This supports the underlying philosophy of the programme, which is to foster eco-entrepreneurship. In the process of assisting poor people to start their own backyard nurseries, the seeds of entrepreneurship are sown. Business basics are entrenched amongst target communities and soon people start investigating other options to change their lives. Through Wildlands’ Khuthaza Business project, Tree-preneurs traded their trees for business grants, enabling them to start small-scale farming, sewing and other businesses. Through this, Tree-preneurs are able to create greater wealth in their communities and many have been able to provide gainful employment to fellow community members.
The Recycling for Life initiative was inspired by the success of the Wildlands Trees for Life program in 2010. It was realised that through this initiative, thousands of South Africans could collect recyclable waste and barter it with Wildlands for livelihood support and sustain themselves.
The Recycling for Life project has expanded significantly over the years – with the entire project now also being rolled out in Acornhoek within the K2C Biosphere Region this past year. This was made possible with support from Engen and Nedbank – who have expressed a real interest in job creation, development and upliftment in this area.
Waste-preneurs collect a significant amount of recyclables that come through the Wildland’s depots. This past year saw over 1922 Waste-preneurs collect more than 4 564 835 kg and traded waste with Wildlands. This waste was bartered for R1 980 173 worth of livelihood support. In addition 375 859 kg of waste was collected from residential areas and 929 875 kg from 123 schools.
The Nedbank Keyona account was also rolled out with Waste-preneurs this past year, which allowed Wildlands to transfer the value of their waste barter into their own personal bank accounts.
Recycling is fast becoming a popular programme to be a part of. The Waste-preneurs are seeing the benefits for themselves, as well as for their communities.