What We Do
Mezimbite Forest Centre eliminates poverty in forest communities by providing sustainable economic alternatives that protect and restore the forest ecosystem.
The Centre is a community-based program with an integrated sustainable design, forest management and education/training center. The heart of our project lies in Mozambique but Mezimbite’s services and programs are expanding into neighboring countries.
We use the forest resources for employment opportunities and sustainable joint ventures with the people living there to create lifestyle products and services which enrich the lives of the people who make, buy and use the products and services.
Given that Mozambique has some of the highest HIV/AIDS rates (5th highest in the world), is in the top 10 countries for HIV/AIDS-related deaths (ranked #7), and is one of the poorest (ranked 122 out of 227 countries with 70% below the poverty line), least-educated, and one of the most politically corrupt countries (tied for 130 out of 180 countries by Transparency International) Link Another Link on the planet, Mezimbite must be realistic on the challenges that it must solve in order to break the vicious cycle of poverty and forest destruction. Though those statistics are staggering – it just goes to show you that with ingenuity and incredible strength of human will – a more sustainable life is possible.
Here are some of the challenges that Mezimbite works to address even before doing what we love – which is saving forests and creating worthwhile products:
The average life expectancy in rural-outlying areas where Mezimbite works is 31 years (men) and 32 years (women). Mezimbite provides health care for Mezimbite’s workers but unfortunately the health care services leave much to be desired. There are on average, 0.027 physicians/1,000 population and 0.8 hosptial beds/1,000 people.
Improper nutrition is widespread throughout the country causing high infant mortality rates (#13 out of 222 countries), low fertility rates (#11 out of 222 countries), and serious, sometimes non-reversible physical and mental deficiencies. Mezimbite provides highly nutritious foods grown by the people for the people.
Electricity production is close to 15 billion kWh. In rural areas, energy is relatively inaccessible and most people rely on fire and charcoal for cooking, boiling water, and for light. Mezimbite works to provide alternative forms of energy, including exploration and expansion into biofuels.
Education expenditure is only 5% of the country’s GDP. Though 47.8% of the population can read and write, the school systems are underfunded and overcrowded. Additionally, there is a major discrepancy among education of boys and girls. Almost double the male population is education compared to their female counterparts. Mezimbite provides scholarships for the children (boys and girls) of the workers. If Mezimbite finds out that a girl is not being sent to school because of her sex, that worker is fired.
Uncontrolled Burning – this represents the vast majority of forest destruction accounting for 91% of the forest degradation. This includes slash & burn, firewood and charcoal production, and burning mainly for burning. Mezimibite does not practice any of these operations and trains its workers alternative forms of energy and agriculture production. In most cases, uncontrolled burning has been replaced (or in some cases displaced).
Unsustainable Timber Harvesting – over the past decade, countries like China have moved into Mozambique logging all the precious hard wood. Mozambique has regulations making it illegal to export wood as lumber but due to the corruption of the government, this is disregarded. Though the rate that trees are extracted/year is far greater than Mezimbite’s tree planting initiatives, we seek to do our part.
Despite so many of these challenges, Mezimbite manages to do what we love to the utmost integrity. See more ways how you can assist in Mezimbite’s endeavors through Getting Involved.