‘Green Job’ Initiative in Mauritius focused on wise use of Guava wood for employment opportunities for the poor

Problem statement:

Mauritius, like most oceanic islands, comprises high levels of endemic floral and faunal that have suffered high extinction rates caused by a growing human population, habitat destruction and degradation. In order to safeguard the remaining biodiversity, the Government of Mauritius has established a terrestrial protected area network (PAN) on the mainland, funded by the UNDP/GEF. PAN has already been implemented by the National Parks and Conservation Service under the Ministry of Agro Industry and Food Security. The report can be found here.

The PAN is a comprehensive and coordinated approach to address invasive alien species, including the Chinese guava (Psidium Cattleianum). Currently, invasive species such as the Chinese guava are manually removed from nature reserves and discarded.

Due to the hardness of the guava wood, it has been used for many years in Mauritius to replace broken handles on imported items (Pioche) and are still sold in the local hardware shops. To date, broader commercial uses for guava wood have not been properly studied; no attempt has been carried out to scale up use of the wood and explore possibilities for transforming this local resource into valuable items for job creation.

Goals & objectives:

Mauritian national priorities currently include job creation to decrease unemployment, identifying new avenues for development and economic growth, and combatting poverty under the Marshall Plan. Other cross-cutting issues include solid waste management and promotion of ‘green job’ initiatives, in line with the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals.

The objective of this project is not only to bridge the existing gap between conservation activities (removal of Chinese guava) and green job creation, but also to foster the synergy between institutions for the development of ‘green job’ initiatives in other sectors in Mauritius. Initially, the project will focus on making use of the guava wood for social innovation and job creation for the poor.

Achievements:

The methodology includes a comprehensive research study of the Chinese Guava Wood (CGW) characteristics and properties, potentiality and applicability for commercialisation, and item and market identification. Findings will be used to scale up the use of this wood to create useful and commercial items to generate income among the poor.

The first set of funding came through the ENL Foundation and HSBC Bank Group in Mauritius. As at end of 2019, most of the funding has been spent on developing several items out of guava wood. Below are some examples of the items developed:

A proposal was also sent to ENL Foundation for the embellishment of ‘Bassin Canard’ found in Reduit using Guava Wood. But unfortunately no funding has yet been disbursed for the completion of the project and we are still looking for potential funders to complete this project. The final video on how ‘Bassin Canard’ would look can be found below:

Moreover, after working a lot with the guava wood trying to develop several items, the EPCO Team realised that more training is needed on how to modify to the guava wood so as to produce several other items and also more specialised tools are needed to process the wood. In this regard, the project manager is working on a larger project in the indian ocean regions in collaboration with other NGOS in the region so as to go for a training in Reunion Islands to learn more on how to treat those guava wood before the production of several items. The catalogue of the products that Reunion Island is offering can be found here. More info will be updated on this new project soon.