Many communities in the Cal Madow are largely dependent on frankincense harvesting, and this makes them vulnerable if the trees are in decline. Moreover dependency on one or two species for economic livelihood is not considered viable by the United Nations and diversification is a development goal for Sanaag. Other destructive extractive industries such as charcoaling or small-scale mining with toxic chemicals are easy immediate options, but both of these are dangerous and unsustainable.
A critical component to long-term conservation of the Cal Madow is establishing alternative economic options to increase employment, give youth a sense of purpose, and diversify families’ income sources, as well as to promote conservation simultaneously.
We are currently exploring and developing options for alternative economies. These may include payment for ecosystem services and restoration projects, small-scale ecotourism, non-timber forest products such as honey, development of agriculture in areas with greater access to water, and cultivation of valuable native flora such as aloes.