The Enkong’u Social Welfare Group on June 8 organised and participated in a tree planting activity in Oloolua Primary School. They were joined by students and the staff from the school as well as their family members. The Welfare group comprising of mostly men was established in the year 2011 with 66 founder members, but currently, only 19 are actively involved in the group activities.
Six years ago, the group planted trees in the same school and the trees have now matured proving reforestation is possible within 6 years. They used a very simple strategy of planting and fencing the area to prevent interference. Some of the trees have also shed seeds which have resulted in the sprouting of multiple seedlings. The group challenged other members of the community to participate in tree planting and above all in growing them. A member of the group came up with a proposal that emphasis should be put towards keeping people and cattle away from areas where trees have been planted. His proposal prompted our team to do some research on whether keeping humans and cattle away can increase survival chances of trees.
Manuel Guariguata from the Centre for International Forestry Research and Robin Chazdon from the University of Connecticut USA conducted research in Costa Rica. They noted that by the late 1970s much the country Guanacaste region dry forests had been cut down to give way for cattle ranches driven by the high beef prices. When the international market slumped around 1980 many small beef cattle farmers were unable to make ends meet. Many of the small farmers walked off their land and that is when the forest crept back to reclaim the unattended land. This is an extract from their report “Fast-growing vegetation established itself fast, tree seedlings and shrubs colonizing the disturbed soil. Soon they shaded out the grass, and attracted birds and bats to roost, eat berries and disperse seeds. As each year passed, new plants and animals arrived. Bit by bit, the forest returned”
The rear now has 50 percent forest cover and a significant amount of wildlife has returned. The above two case studies are a challenge to the local environmentalist who can tap into the knowledge towards regenerating our forests.