Newsletter Stories

Tuesday, 16 May 2023
Zebras in Africa: progress from the field

By: Ben Jablonski, CEO, The Good Charcoal

When Americans pick up an FSC-certified product at the grocery store, they know they are buying a product that is committed to by the highest set of values. However, sometimes it can be hard to clearly make the connection between the FSC label on the product, and the impact on the ground. Consumers may ask, how do we quantify the impact?

This anecdote from a recent trip to Africa may help.

The Good Charcoal works with the FSC to harvest the invasive acacia bush in both Namibia and South Africa and convert it into sustainable charcoal. The problem “bush encroachment” covers 100 million acres in Namibia alone. Acacia is spreading at an incredibly fast rate, at the expense of grass vegetation in the savannah. The lack of grass vegetation has limited space for animals like the zebra and the cheetah, leading to terrible results such as blindness for cheetahs as they run into the acacia bushes while trying to hunt.

We ran our first production at the beginning of 2021 working with farms in Namibia to help them solve for bush encroachment. Today, The Good Charcoal is available chain-wide at Sam’s Club and Target. In November 2022, me and my partner Rob Silverman went to plan 2023 production. We were driving through the 100 million acres of invasive bush and in a clearing saw some zebras roaming.

“What are these zebras doing here?” I asked. The farmer answered with a smile: “These zebras here are the result of your first production in 2021.” It was surreal to me. To know that the work that we do with the FSC has a real impact on the earth, restoring equilibrium to the environment and creating a better future for our world’s forests, vegetation and animals alike.

See the zebras here.