In Yaeda Valley, the basis of our success has been the community developed land use plans that designate areas for farming, grazing and full protection (see map), the latter being critical for the Hadza as a hunting area and of course the core of our REDD project. This 75,000 hectare area is then managed by the village governments and community groups who employ 33 walinzi wajadi, or community scouts, with revenue from carbon sales. Their job is to patrol and ensure that the land use plans are being followed.
In the beginning of July, our project manager in Yaeda Valley, Issac Bryson, called to report some land conflict issues on the Gideru ridge, an important area of woodland used for hunting and gathering by the Hadzabe, and of course an integral part of our REDD project area.
The walinzi wajadi (community guards) had reported to Isaac and the village government, that several groups of Taatoga pastoralists had moved into the protected area to graze their cattle, which is allowed at the end of the dry season, but they had also started to build bomas or cattle enclosures, which involving coppicing Commiphora trees. This report set off a chain of events, and for us a test of the systems in place for dealing with land conflict issues.
The village held a community meeting to discuss these incursions and establish why this had happened. A village task force was sent up to the Gideru ridge, a challenging days walk, to investigate and importantly for us, document the incursions.
Three bomas were asked to vacate but the Taatoga protested that there was no grass this year and they had no choice, this of course led to discussions about why. So lets take a step back for the moment and talk about the reasons for the incursions, this year has been unusual, heavy rains late in the rainy season, a colder than normal June-August period and very cloudy. Yaeda valley, usually an 8000 hectare grassland is currently waterlogged and whilst there is grass, it’s a species that inedible.
Post our community meetings the Taatoga agreed to continue grazing but not make bomas, this sort of flexibility is important as we continue to expand our protected area system in Yaeda. We are of course focused on reducing carbon emissions from deforestation and degradation, but to do that we need to avoid land conflict and continue engaging neighboring village governments in improved land management.