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Digging into how tree planting should be done

Last week, my article focused on how trees reduce global warming. Interestingly, I got feedback from one tree expert Jacob Kirui that challenged me.

“Hello Hellen, your article raised a pertinent topic, but you did not address a fundamental issue. Kirui pointed out that planting trees for forest restoration is much more than simply putting a seedling in the ground and waiting for it to grow.”

That to him is what happens in many cases because of ignorance of some tree planters. Kirui pointed out that some organisations are planting trees for the sake of it, which makes the whole campaign ineffective.

“People are planting the wrong tree in the wrong place and they abandon it later on by not nurturing it with water,” he complained.

He argued that the way that the tree is planted, where, and its aftercare is what harnesses that power.

He rightly pointed out that reforestation is not just about getting trees in the ground: it’s about providing the building blocks of an ecosystem.

According to the World Economic Forum, while many of these initiatives are certainly ambitious, it’s important that we establish a set of best practices to get the most from the resources we put into restoring forests.

I will share some insights for successful tree planting initiative:

Put locals at the heart of the project

For a restoration project to last long, the community must be involved because they are the ones who will take care of it long after the cameras have left.

Research shows that many attempts at forest restoration fail simply because the local community was not involved.

It has been noted that indigenous knowledge holds huge value and should never be underestimated.

The local people are the subject experts in the forests themselves, and the issues facing them.

Select appropriate areas for restoration

Land Life Company says areas of land that previously had forest cover are a yes; grasslands, wetlands, peatlands, and other areas with no previous forest coverage should be avoided.

The reason is that a lot of these areas capture a lot of carbon in the soil. It is worth noting that not every plot of land is made equal when it comes to reforestation.

Use trees that are resilient to adapt to a changing climate

With climate change and rising global temperatures, it is in order to use resilient and diverse trees for the area to have good levels of genetic diversity and increase the chances of survival of the trees.

Pick seeds and seedlings with a healthy amount of genetic diversity so that they can withstand shocks like pest attacks and harsh climatic conditions.

To hack this, work with experts from organisations like Kenya Forest Services.

Make it pay

Forest restoration involves effort, money, and time and to make it sustainable, it needs to be crafted into an income-generating activity. For example, tree planters can consider selling sustainably produced forest products, or setting up an ecotourism centre.

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