One of the main goals of the reforestation project in Lurë is to involve the local vulnerable community by offering them seasonal work as well as encouraging/promoting gender equality by working with women. Besides working with them when we plant trees, we involve women in local food preparation for our events with schools and in the nursery.
Another group we're interested in working within Lurë is young people. A few youth still live in the village; the rest migrated to bigger cities in Albania or emigrated abroad. The biggest challenge for them is the lack of work and new opportunities. Working on the project by digging holes, planting or assisting in organising the school events offers them a chance to work and socialise.
Local economy impact
We are incredibly proud to be able to provide regular seasonal job opportunities in the Lurë area for men and women who help us plant trees as well as take care of the tree nursery.
Benefitting families are smallholder farmers relying on their crop production/animal raising for livelihood. Considering the lack of a local market to sell their products, these families additionally rely on state aid (max 3000 ALL/month per family) or remittances from relatives. Working seasonally on Trees for Lurë diversifies their income stream and improves food security before winter, during which these communities are isolated due to heavy snowfalls.
Based on the amount of work families take up, the seasonal income from Trees for Lurë activities can reach up to 3 times of the monthly state aid, per work day.
One of the main goals of the Trees for Lurë project is to involve women and promote gender equality in remote areas, particularly in the patriarchal context of rural Albania.
Women living in these areas are mainly engaged in domestic work and taking care of their children/family. Work opportunities outside the house are nearly zero. Only two women, a mother and a daughter, worked with us in the first year of our reforestation efforts. They prepared local food for the team and the volunteers but did not participate as workers in planting trees.
In 2022, women's involvement increased. Ten women worked on planting trees, receiving individual payment separately from their husbands, and one woman prepared local food for everyone.
In 2023, the project of Trees for Lurë expanded and provided different tasks for women in Lurë, from engaging them to take care of the nursery, cooking food with local products during our stay in Lurë or school events, and hiring them as seasonal workers to plant trees. The other women involved in the project were the teachers from different schools who volunteered and the Trees for Lurë women, who managed the school events, trained the kids and supervised the planting activity.
Organising school events
In 2023, we introduced a new way to involve schools around Albania and kids from the village of Fushë-Lurë. The main scope was to have educational activities during the planting season as an additional program to the project.
We had an opportunity to show the kids the whole process, from the seeds - to saplings in the nursery - to planting trees in the National Park.
To give the kids a better understanding, we prepared a daily program to show and experience the entire cycle. Starting with extracting the seeds, planting them in recyclable trays in our nursery, and explaining the diverse growing processes of different species in a greenhouse in 1 100 m.a.s.l. We also taught them about the National Park and the species growing there. Before heading to the planting area, each kid was able to choose the number of trees they wanted to plant.
After teaching them how to plant a tree correctly in the reforestation area, each kid planted as many trees as they liked. Then, we proceeded to show them the (pinus nigra) trees planted in 2021 and 2022, as well as the monitoring system method for each year.
The daily program concluded with local food (byrek prepared by local women) and herbal tea, all gathered around the fire at the camping area next to where they had planted the trees.
This year, we had three separate events with three different schools (43 kids and 4 teachers from Fushë-Lurë, Rrëshen and Peshkopi). Considering the enthusiasm and interest shown by the schools, we will repeat these events during the seed planting season in spring, as we already have a few schools on the waiting list.