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Have a Christmas with a difference

If you’re stuck for present ideas for your loved ones this Christmas, why not peruse the A Rocha gift catalogue and make it a Christmas with a difference? We have new products for 2022, plus a range of other Gifts with a Difference that will bring lasting benefits to nature and community members across Africa, Asia and South America. 

You can give a wormery to improve the hygiene of families in India as well as the health of the soil, or an elephant crossing to ensure the safety of elephants and people living around Bannerghatta National Park. A clean cookstove for a family in Peru will help save the threatened dry forest landscapes and improve the health of local communities, or you can help train young people to create an organic garden, improving their diet and bringing them closer to nature. 

Each order comes with a free gift card to remind your loved one of the difference made in their name. Or, if you are feeling particularly virtuous, you can go paperless and opt for an ecard. (Hint: they are also great if you run out of time!)  

Shop now at 

Semiahmoo Bay looking south towards Drayton Harbor in the US, where shellfish harvest is permitted (by Hannah Mae)

Towards bountiful life in Boundary Bay

Meandering through A Rocha Canada’s Brooksdale Environmental Center is the Little Campbell River / Tatalu. Walking around the watershed, you might spot a flowering Vancouver Island Beggarticks, a nesting Barn Swallow or even an elusive Salish Sucker, thought for a time to be locally extinct. This little river, once a place of bounty, is now the greatest source of faecal contamination into Boundary Bay (Pacific Ocean). Harvesting shellfish in the Bay was an integral part of Semiahmoo First Nation nutrition and culture, but due to contamination, the Bay has been closed to harvest since the 1970s.  

To address this issue, A Rocha Canada works in partnership with the Semiahmoo First Nation and other members of the Shared Waters Alliance to monitor water quality in 19 locations: 17 freshwater sites along the Tatalu and its tributaries and two marine sites in Semiahmoo Bay. Water quality is an excellent indicator of overall watershed health, and this data addresses a knowledge gap about the current state of faecal contamination and how and where conditions have changed since the 1970s.  

A Rocha Canada is also undertaking microbial source-tracking to determine the causes of this contamination. These can include septic system discharges, runoff from agricultural land containing livestock waste, pet waste and cross-connections between storm and sewage pipes. A Rocha also partners with landowners and local municipalities to discuss the extent of the issue and how to combat it. One solution is to restore habitat along the river – putting up fences to keep out cattle and horses, replacing invasive plants with native species, for example – to increase the forest buffer, which helps filter contaminants and supports biodiversity.  

Ultimately, improving the ecological health of the water is important for everyone: from plants, to fish, from birds to people. A Rocha hopes that together, our efforts will enable everyone to enjoy the bounty and biodiversity that this watershed has to offer.  

You can hear more from A Rocha Canada and Semiahmoo Chief Harley Chappell in this video.   

Sunkpa Shea Women in Ghana

Sunkpa Shea Women: from rural Ghana to New York

The Sunkpa Shea Women’s Cooperative (northern Ghana) uses shea nut butter production as a way to care for the beautiful and biodiverse Mole Ecological Landscape. Through shea nut collection and shea butter processing, the collective of around 1,000 women encourages landscape restoration and builds a green value chain in the shea butter industry.  

The Sunkpa Shea Women’s journey started in 2013, when their daily task was to walk several miles to collect shea nuts and either sell or process them into butter to sell at the local market. Collecting shea from the wild is a time-consuming effort; making hand-made shea butter is a tedious process. The women faced additional challenges: a lack of transport to bring the nuts to a processing centre, inconsistent local or export markets, the felling of shea trees by charcoal producers – and less than premium prices for their shea butter.  

Through the Community Resource Management Area (CREMA) and support from A Rocha Ghana and the Savannah Fruits Company, the women organized themselves into a cooperative to address their challenges. Collaboration allowed them to establish a green value chain for quality hand-made shea butter and to address challenges across the chain. For example, the women established – and now manage – a nursery where they grow shea and other indigenous seedlings to use for landscape restoration to ensure a consistent supply of shea nuts.  

They also now have an ultra-modern shea butter processing facility, tricycles to ease transportation challenges and a link with a cosmetic company, Evolution of Smooth, headquartered in New York – the first organic shea butter from the Mole Landscape went to New York for sale in June 2021! For nine years, the Sunkpa Shea Women have been steadfast in their efforts to have their everyday rural livelihood bring sustainability both to their landscape and their business.  

The contribution of these women was recognised nationally and internationally in July this year with the awarding of the prestigious Equator Prize, a biennial recognition of outstanding community efforts to reduce poverty through the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity. This achievement highlights the importance of indigenous people as defenders of a country’s natural resources and the crucial role they play in conserving the environment.