Campaign manager: Zhuoma Sina
Partner: The Nature Conservancy
When campaign manager Zhuoma Sina set out to find ways to reduce fuelwood consumption threatening forests in Baima Snow Mountain national reserve, she uncovered some unexpected dynamics.
While poaching, overgrazing, fires, and use of wood for home construction were acknowledged as serious threats to the local forests, the heavy use of wood for fuel emerged as an equal concern and an opportunity to jump-start support for local conservation. Surveys showed that household fuelwood consumption in the Reserve accounts for an estimated 30% of deforestation a year. Twenty eight percent is used for boiling water and cooking, 32% percent for heating, and 40% for preparing food for animals such as pigs.
Zhuoma started with the first 28% by securing local and regional government funding to purchase a solar water heating system as an alternative to fuelwood use in household cooking. She recruited 100 families to pilot test the system and is currently monitoring results. She then turned to the rather surprising 40% of fuelwood that was being used to warm meals for pigs belonging to families throughout the community. With the help of a technical expert in feeding techniques, she identified ways to grow plants and grasses as alternative ways to meet the animals’ dietary needs. Yet changing long held traditions is not easy, so Zhuoma has held multiple workshops and training sessions to build support and adoption for the new techniques. She also recruited four families to participate in a controlled experiment, two using traditional feeding practices and two testing the new diet. Early results are promising, with the two pigs receiving the new plant-based diet growing equally healthy and strong as those given traditional feed.
Progress to date…
- Installed 100 solar water heaters in pilot homes
- Launched a women’s collective with 25 members, which has conducted garbage clean-ups and tree planting in the Reserve
- Conducted workshops for local farmers on animal food production techniques that require little fuelwood
- Designed a fuelwood monitoring system and established baseline data from which to measure the impact of the campaign
- Constructed kiosks at the entrances of seven administrative villages about the destructive effects of deforestation