Buwerimwe Secondary School Forest Reforestation Project (Marange Communal Area)

Community members participating tree planting at Buwerimwe. Photo By Shamiso Mupara


19°23’20.5″S 32°15’53.2″E Mutare https://goo.gl/maps/gzBdAfWZPHn

Marange is in Zimbabwe’s Natural Region IV. The region receives annual rainfall of about 650mm and is erratic. Temperatures can reach highs of 35 degrees Celsius during most part of the year. These climatic conditions make it difficult for meaningful crop production to take place, worsening the livelihoods and food security in the area, leaving forests as the only livelihood option.
The restoration project is located at Buwerimwe Secondary School. The goal is to restore forests lost to deforestation by involving both community and students in the project. Expected outcomes will include, increase in vegetation cover, raising a generation of students who are environmentally sensitive and custodians of the environment, control erosion, create a source of nectar for future bee keeping projects, provide habitat for wild animals and have a pilot project which if successful will be used to implement similar projects in schools and communities in Zimbabwe.
A total of two thousand trees have been planted since 2017. Water Shortages and fencing have been the major challenges. Students are now bringing water from home and the community is being sensitized on the need to stop grazing livestock on the restoration site.

Quick Facts

Geographic Region:

Country or Territory:


Grasslands & Savannas - Temperate

Area being restored:
13 606 m2

Project Lead:
Environmental Buddies Zimbabwe Trust.

Organization Type:
NGO / Nonprofit Organization

Project Partners:
1. Ministry of Environment, Tourism and Hospitality Industry 2. Forestry Commission, Zimbabwe 3. Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education 4. Buwerimwe Secondary School 5. Marange Traditional Leaders and Community 6. Global Greengrants Funds (USA) 7. United States Department of Agriculture Forest Services International Program Office

Project Stage:

Start Date:

End Date:

Primary Causes of Degradation

Agriculture & Livestock, Climate Change, Deforestation, Fire & Weather Events

Degradation Description

Cutting down of trees to meet the Community’s energy (firewood, lighting), furniture and construction needs are the main causes of deforestation. Harsh climatic condition over the years has hindered the ability of forests to rejuvenate. This coupled with overgrazing has left the land heavily degraded. In 2005 Chief Mazwi allocated the already degraded area to Buwerimwe Secondary School to construct a school. The school further cleared land for construction of school structures and school sporting arenas. This further worsened the situation. Due to lack of funds the school has not been able to construct structures as planned, leaving all the large pieces of land they had cleared bare and exposed to water and wind erosion. In addition, a lack of proper fencing of the school premises has seen community members continue to graze their livestock in the school yard, putting pressure on the already stressed vegetation, resulting in further degradation.

Ecological Effects
The land is characterised by gullies slicing the landscape into different fragments, lack of vegetation cover. It is covered mainly by grass with few bushes and trees. A lack of vegetation cover to aid infiltration results in the land being flooded the few times when the area receives heavy rains. This has also seen classes being disrupted when water gets into classrooms. The gullies continue to widen and expand towards the school buildings putting the school structures at risk of being swept away in future if the situation is not controlled.

Socio economic effects
In the past when the area was still forested, it used to house small game such as hares and kudus and edible worms, fruits wild vegetables that used to contribute to the community’s nutrition needs. Absence of forests has seen the reduction in game numbers and extinction of the much sought-after Mopane worm. Beekeeping and honey production have also slowed down due to lack of foraging plants for bees, resulting in loss of income for the majority of the unemployed community members who depended on bees as a livelihood option.

Defining the Reference Ecosystem

The reference ecosystem is primarily based on historical information about ecological attributes at the site prior to degradation.

Reference Ecosystem Description

Prior to restoration efforts the area was mostly dominated with grass and a few bushes. Grass will be mostly dominant during the rainy season and wilts and dries off during the dry season. The dry grass made the area prone to veld fires summer times. After restoration efforts started, the area has close to 2000 new trees growing.

Restored system will be:

• Increase in tree population density.
• Increase in the number of animals, birds and insect species coming back to the area.
• Closing of gullies and reduction in soil erosion
• Increase in the number of community members and students involved in the project.

Climatic conditions were used to select species planted. Marange experiences high temperatures and low rainfall. Thus drought resistant trees were selected for restoration efforts. Also, to ensure trees adapt easily, species that used to occupy the same area were the ones that were planted.
Due to long dry spells and shortages of irrigation water at the school, students now bring water from their respective homes to irrigate trees. Also all plated trees have been mulched to reduce evaporation.

Project Goals

Forest landscape restoration at Buwerimwe Secondary School.

• Plant at least 5000 trees at Buwerimwe Secondary School.
• Promote conservation of forest resources via awareness campaigns.
• Establish a source of tree seeds for future restoration activities and fruits and edible vegetables to meet nutritional needs of the school and community.
Grow more tree saplings in the recently constructed Marange Nursery. This will aid in building upon a lot of work that is underway.

  • Job creation


Monitoring Details:
Monitoring include checking : growth rate, survaival rate of trees, new animals,birds and insects coming back into the area. Students and local community along with EBZ are monitoring the plantings.

Start date, including baseline data collection:
September 2017

End Date:


1. Ministry of Environment, Tourism and Hospitality Industry acts as the regulatory and advisory body of all the environment related projects. It is the parent Ministry that is supporting EBZ and ensures that it operates within the boundaries of the environmental laws: Environment Act, Forestry Act, etc.
The Ministry has already given Environmental Buddies Zimbabwe the permission to operate in Manicaland Provinces and acknowledge their presence in the Province and is constantly working on connecting us to other relevant stakeholders.

2. Zimbabwe Forestry Commission
In this projects Forestry Commission is offering EBZ technical support. This include:
• Soil testing
• Irrigation water testing
• Advise on medium (soil) to be used in the nursery for saplings.
• Selecting trees that are viable for the Marange hot climate
• Compiling Tree profiles
• Seed collection and storage
• Extension work in the community (Education and awareness)
• Provide monitoring and evaluation advice

3. The role of Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education in this project is to issue an approval and directive to head of schools and colleges to allow the involvement of the students in the afforestation program. In this Project the Ministry has already given EBZ the permission to partner with Buwerimwe Secondary School in Marage to work on this Forest Landscape Restoration Project.
• Buwerimwe Secondary School Teachers; teachers are serving as patrons or an adviser to the students. They also communicate with both the Students and Environmental Buddies Zimbabwe on the goals, objectives and the overall involvement of the school in the project.
• Students; The students are important key actors on this project. Through them the information and knowledge gained at school about the project is being passed to the community. In addition, also take part in activities such as seed collection, practical work at the nursery, guided research on plant species and help collect and compile traditional/ indigenous knowledge on trees from their respective families.

4. Traditional Leaders and Community: Traditional leaders oversees all activities that happen in the communal areas. They approve the project and add their input on how best the project will be executed as they are knowledgeable about the community. They are the ones who also allocate land for the project. They also mobilise the community to accept and participate in the project. They also mobilise human resources they see fit for the project.

The Marange community is very important on this project. They are the final recipient of the project and they are also the host community for the project. The community is a source for indigenous knowledge on forests, they are also helping with collection of seeds. they are also involved in educating other community members on the goals and objectives of the project. Community also provides the workforce needed for the project.

5. Global Greengrants
EBZ received its first grant from Global Green Grants Fund. The fund went towards construction of the Tree Nursery in Marange. The Nursery measures 260m2 and has a capacity to carry over 20 000 tree saplings. To date EBZ has managed to raise over 5000 tree seedlings in this nursery. 2 000 of the trees that were planted at Buwerimwe Secondary School came from this Nursery.
6. USDA Forest Service
United States Forest Survive International Program (USFS IP) has been providing EBZ with technical support. The support includes trainings done in Zimbabwe on various aspects of Forests landscape restoration activities on species selection, improving genes, soil and water testing. They also have been providing EBZ with nursery pots and trays that durable and saves on the soil medium used. In addition, they also provide EBZ with nursery Equipment such as pH testing equipment that has helped in improving the soil medium used in the nursery. Also, callipers that are used to track growth of trees by measuring tree truck diameters.
Besides the equipment, USFS IP has financed one EBZ staff member to attend a Forest Landscape program in Oregon USA in 2018. Information learnt from the Exchange Program has helped EBZ improve its nursery activities and new ways to engage community members into the Marange Restoration Program.

Education and awareness Strategies
Community awareness initiatives are being conducted to increase the reach of the program. Several awareness meetings were conducted with schools namely Buwerimwe Secondary School, Chikuku Primary School, Chigonda Primary School, and Mafunde Primary School. In addition, EBZ collaborated with Mutsago United Methodist Church to carry out an awareness and tree planting programme. The awareness programmes managed to directly reach out to 4000 people
EBZ in partnership with Buwerimwe have managed to establish and Environmental Club at the school, which is still in its infancy stage. The main aim is to train and raise green ambassadors for both the school and communities. The club raises awareness on sustainable forest resources management in neighbouring schools and community. They also do exchange visits with the schools to share forests ideas.
Students at Buwerimwe and other neigbouring Schools have been involved in several tree planting activities, including after tree planting care such as watering and pruning the tree. In addition, students are now using the newly constructed nursery for their hands-on practical lessons in Geography and Agriculture classes.
Community members have also participated in tree planting activities at Buwerimwe Secondary school since 2017. In addition, EBZ had a Bee-keeping and Beading workshop with the community to sensitise them on the importance of non-timber products as livelihood options.

How this project eliminated existing threats to the ecosystem:
Existing threat: Deforestation • Seed collection • Raising tree nurseries • Land preparation at the out-planting area • Tree planting • After tree planting care. • Capacity building and awareness campaigns

How this project achieved a desirable species composition:
A total of 50 different indigenous species were selected and used for the restoration efforts. 1) Hardwoods such as Pod Mahogany for firewood, furniture and construction. 2) Nectar trees such as Sausage tree amd Miomba to promote bee keeping and support bee populations 3) Fast growing tree such as Kenyan Croton for firewood 4) Mophane, African Ebony to promote Mophane worm production to meet proten needs of school and community 5) Fruit trees to meet nutrutuional needs of students

How this project reinstated structural diversity (e.g. strata, faunal food webs, spatial habitat diversity):
Plants that ranges from grasses such as Vetiva grass to succulents such as sisal and alloy to large trees such as Pod Mahogany were all included in the restoration efforts.

Activities were undertaken to address any socio-economic aspects of the project:
Job creation: •EBZ has employed one full time nursery assistant. •EBZ has employed one full time employee for working on the Buwerimwe Secondary School Woodlot. He works with the help of students and staff members. •Various community members are contracted to pick seeds and supply top-soil whenever they are needed.

Ecological Outcomes Achieved

Eliminate existing threats to the ecosystem:
Planting trees has reduced the threat of both wind and water erosion.

Reinstate appropriate physical conditions",:
A total of 50 different indigenous species have been planted.

Factors limiting recovery of the ecosystem:
Water, enough water to irrigate the trees and fencing. The school is not fully fenced and thus goats sometimes find their way into the school premise and browse on the trees. The school has no sufficient water to cater for their staff and student needs. In such instances trees are not prioritised for irrigation.

Socio-Economic & Community Outcomes Achieved

Economic vitality and local livelihoods:
Job creation, capacity building. EBZ has employed two full time employed who work at the newly constructed Nursery and at Buwerimwe Restoration site. Some community members are empoloyed on part-time basis and they collect seeds.,supply top soil, prepare outplanting area and weeding.

Provision of basic necessities such as food, water, timber, fiber, fuel, etc.:
The trees from the nursery planted at Buwerimwe Secondary School are all alive and growing. Its too early to harvest any forests products from the restored site.

Cultural dimensions such as recreational, aesthetic and/or spiritual:
Whilst it is too early to formulate any conclusion but based on the markers of change such as increase in interest to planting trees EBZ is convinced that the environmental improvements will be positive to the community. Buwerimwe Secondary School started with 100 trees which they planted in June 2017 and now up to date they have planted 2000 trees at the school premises. The trees came from the newly constructed Marange Nursery. Community members are frequenting the nursery more often to pick up trees and to date 30 people (20 males and 10 females) have picked up 150 trees.

Regulation of climate, floods, disease, erosion, water quality, etc.:
The inclusion of sisal plant and vetiva grass is helping in slowing down the expansion of gullies.

Has the project had any negative consequences for surrounding communities or given rise to new socio-economic or political challenges?:

Key Lessons Learned

Key lessons
• The need to have several perennial water sources before restoration activities start.
• Have an irrigation system in place for at least the first 5 years of the restoration project to ensure tree are sufficiently watered to reduce wilting and eventually mortality.
• The need to have solid tree protection strategies in place.
• Continue with community engagements to ensure there is collaborative efforts in protecting the trees.
• If research shows that water absorbing gels will not have effects on the environment, they can be used to easy water shortages.

Adaptive management actions.
• Due to high temperatures off rain season, between March and November, most trees will be showing signs of stress. We engaged students who are now bringing 2 litres of water each from their respective homes to water the trees.
• Employed a simpler irrigation system for each tree that uses a 2liter bottle being inserted into each tree planting hole and water is released slowly for several days.
• Mulching also is being used to retain moisture.

Long-Term Management


EBZ will continue to manage the day to day running of the nursery. The main objective being to raise health  tree saplings to be used for restoration Efforts in Marange Communal Area.  EBZ will also continue to engage existing and new funding partners for financing the following :allowances for employees, borehole drilling, set up water pumping systems, irrigation system, raising nurseries and community outreach programs.

Buwerimwe Secondary school Restoration Site

Students and staff members with the help of EBZ personnel will  continue to manage the restoration sites. Activities will include watering, pruning, manuring, pests and dieses control. Students will mulch and water plants during the school days. In the event of any pests or diseases biological methods such as ashes to control termites will be done by students. In the event of any pesticides needed, EBZ will supply such.


Traditional leaders will enforce forest conservation strategies that  have been agreed on by Community Members.


Involvement  of  other government institutions will ensure the projects runs for decades of years to come. These are permanent institutions in the community and if they are there, they will ensure the continuity of the project and safe guard the project.  These include Forestry Commission , Zimbabwe and various ministries.

Sources and Amounts of Funding

1. Global Greengrants Funds (USA) (USD $7000). The funding went towards financing the construction of the Nursery. Prior as an Organisation, EBZ didn’t have a structure. Trees were raised on open ground often resulting in the need to water saplings several times a day, water and labour wastage. Most plants failed to survive the hot temperatures. Funding also went towards raising 3000 saplings, 4 workshops and allowances for both full time and contract workers.
2. US Forest Service International Programs – Is providing EBZ with ongoing technical assistance, nursery equipment, improved nursery pots/trays.

How much has been invested in the project to date?

US$ 30 000

Cost per unit restored

US$ 5000

Other Resources


Reforesting a Brighter Future in Zimbabwe



Primary Contact

Shamiso Winnet Mupara

Environmenetal Buddies Zimbabwe



Organizational Contact