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The Root to Fruit project, Chintheche Inn, Lake Malawi
Posted on: Tuesday, June 03, 2014
Blog Category: 'Responsible Travel'

Mike and Marian Myers are living the bush-lovers dream! This blog covers their experience working with Wilderness Safaris' Root to Fruit Project, based from Chintheche Inn on Lake Malawi. Pictures by Mike Myers. 

The two champions of Chintheche Inn’s Root to Fruit project are Master Banda and Lucius Mveya. We visited the nursery in the Inn’s grounds and read through the literature posted in the information centre. This information talks about the carbon cycle and the emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) and points out that since the industrial revolution, there has been an enormous amount of carbon released into the atmosphere that has thrown off the balance and may be the cause of global warming or climate change.

Wilderness Safaris and Southbound Travel Group have partnered in the Root to Fruit project which encourages guests to offset their carbon emissions as a result of travel by sponsoring the seeding and replanting of trees in the communities around Chintheche. A trip from Stockholm in Sweden to Lilongwe in Malawi emits five metric tonnes of CO2 (including all the road transfers, etc). To offset this amount of CO2 it takes 250 trees one year of mature growth to sequester. Guests are able to sponsor the seedlings that will be germinated in the Inn’s nursery and will then be distributed to the communities.

A significant number of Malawi’s population lives along the shores of the lake where large sections of natural lowland tropical forest are cut to provide firewood, furniture and boats and areas are opened up to allow for subsistence farming. If this is not sustainably conserved, the resource will become highly threatened. The schools around Chintheche Inn are the Bandawe Schools and they consist of a primary, secondary, a hearing-impaired and an orphanage. All of these are part of the Children in the Wilderness programme that facilitates the distribution of the seeded fruit trees into the schools and communities.

It is such a grounding experience to be shown around the schools. We visited the Bandawe School for the Hearing Impaired. Here there is a thorough environmental education, especially relative to the trees and their value to man. The children learn about replacing the trees that are cut down; they also learn about coppicing whereby the tree gives them what they need by pruning off certain branches without killing off the tree. There are also vocational skills that the participants at the school acquire through learning about carpentry and agriculture as part of their extra-mural learning subjects.

The children and staff make the most of what they have and this works to keep the environment more sustainable, gives better livelihood practices while educating the communities about conserving their future. This year, the project has distributed 76,322 trees to over 200 clubs, schools, orphan-care centres, churches, family groups, HIV/Aids support groups and more. They hope to top this figure significantly in the coming year. Your visit and participation in the project at Chintheche will have a positive impact on giving back to the land and also to the carbon cycle.

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