Planter: Baban’i Japo (Botomalanza) & Soa Zara
Reforestation Site: Mahabana, Madagascar
Length of Employment: 5 years
Children: 1 son (12 years old)
An Eden worker by the name of Baban’i Japo planted the first mangrove seeds (known as a propagule) sometime around October 15 2007. Eden’s Mangrove restoration efforts first took place in a deforested section of the massive saltwater estuary near the village of Mahabana. This remote village is a grueling one to five days journey by sailboat (depending on winds) from the big port city of Mahajanga, Madagascar.
But Baban’i Japo wasn’t always a planter. In fact, his previous effort to earn a living in Mahabana actually centered around cutting down trees! However, his life was extremely difficult before his change in profession. He would cut down trees and transport them over one hundred miles to Mahajanga where buyers would often cheat him by NOT giving him a fair price for the trees.
When The Eden Projects was beginning to look into a mangrove project in Mahabana, Baban’i Japo was asked to go plant a propagule and see if it would grow. So, while he was out cutting trees he planted the first propagule. Within weeks he was excited to see that the propagule had grown roots, sprouted leaves and was growing into a healthy sapling. Hence, the project started and Baban’i Japo was part of the first team of 8 employees. Today that mangrove tree is reaching 16 feet high!
Since giving up the logging of mangroves for the job of replanting them, Baban’i Japo has played a part in the planting of over 31,000,000 trees and counting, which is tens of millions more than he ever cut down, and is committed to the restoration of Madagascar’s natural environment. He is extremely excited as he says he can see the roots of the trees holding the mud together, and talks about the water being cleaner, the fishing better, and the forest returning.
Another amazing benefit of his work with the Eden Projects is that he and his wife have a tea and coffee stand in the village that has allowed him to send his son to school. He beamed while telling us his son was now completing 7th grade!
Baban’i Japo never dreamt that his planting of that first propagule would be the catalyst to the restoration of the Mahabana estuary and other coastal wetlands in Madagascar.
Thank you so much for your tremendous work Baban’i Japo!
Until next time,
Nolan & Elizabeth