December 6, 2023

Preserving Nature and Tradition: The Mutuba Reforestation Project

We are thrilled to announce the successful conclusion of our three-year reforestation initiative in collaboration with the Jane Goodall Institute in Western Uganda. The project has not only preserved the Mutuba fig tree but also aimed to revitalize and bring more awareness to the traditional art of barkcloth processing.

Between November 2020 and November 2023, a total of 15,000 Mutuba tree cuttings were distributed to over 300 households, safeguarding not only the tree species but also strengthening the communities’ livelihoods. This endeavor significantly contributes to environmental preservation, fosters sustainable development, and safeguards habitats for endangered species, including chimpanzees in the Budongo-Bugoma Corridor.

The Mutuba tree’s bark, with its rich history dating back to ancient times in Southern Uganda, can be transformed into barkcloth without causing harm. Unfortunately, rampant deforestation in recent decades posed a threat to both the Mutuba tree and the invaluable tradition of barkcloth processing.

The “Wrapping Nature in Culture” project went beyond safeguarding trees and distributing tree cuttings, it aimed to showcase the cultural, economic, and ecological advantages of the Mutuba fig tree while preserving the time-honored craft.
In the ten engaged villages, farmers underwent training in sustainable forestry, tree care, harvesting, and barkcloth production. This newfound knowledge not only empowers them to be guardians of the forests but also provides an opportunity to generate additional income by selling barkcloth in the future — a true win-win for nature and the local communities.

Photocredits: Lennart Stolle