These last two years have been undeniably tough. We are not going to lie.

As most of you probably know, Tom and I run a small guest house called Zomba Forest Lodge. This is our only source of income and the source of much of the funding for TREEZ.

Up to the beginning of March 2020, everything was going swimmingly with an ever increasing number of visitors and a worldwide increased interest in Malawi and conservation in general. Thigs were looking up.

And then there was Covid!

The lodge lost 90% of its bookings, and thus a considerable amount of potential income for both the lodge and TREEZ.

Tom and I have since struggled to keep the business afloat while retaining all of our employees. We figured that our staff need the money more than we need to save it - but it leaves us in constant turmoil whenever we have no guests for the weekend.

For much of last year and again this year, we are operating on a 50% capacity basis so as to allow social distancing and for appropriate covid measures to be followed.

All this to say that as we mentally and financially struggle to keep up, TREEZ becomes yet one more thing to worry about.

For this reason, we are sticking to the basics.

The funding that we have for TREEZ (thanks to your crazy runners and your supporters) will be spent on fire prevention activities, conservations, sponsorship and survival rate payments as these are the activities that we know we can manage and that can be done despite the worldwide situation.

A final thought about tree planting:

One last thing that we have been increasingly talking about, is the importance of moving away from the concept of numbers of trees planted, and start concentrating on how areas can be protected so as to allow for trees to regenerate naturally.

Over the past couple of years, we have noticed that there are a growing number of organisations planting trees. We have also repeatedly been asked how many trees we have planted and/or will be planting. The onus being on magic number of trees planted, and being praised for the effort.

But little is done to check that these same trees survive or what the survival rate is for those trees, and how long they can be protected for.

We have decided that the importance is not in how many trees we are planting (we are not actually planting that many, relatively speaking), but we do protect over 300 hectares of natural regrowth, and 500 hectares of pine, representing over 500,000 trees potentially. All those that are naturally regenerated are stronger than planted trees, meaning that their survival rates is higher.

And finally, tree planting exercises should NEVER be justify the cutting down old growth natural forest or woodlands.