Category Archives: tree nursery

A Lot Of Polage For Some Foliage – A Day Of Tree Planting

As some of you may have seen from yesterday’s blog, today was another part of a tree planting initiative being pushed by members of Shimoni village, primarily the area Chief for the Shimoni sub-location and Friends of Shimoni Forest.  GVI work very closely with both parties, and so headed out in the rain to lend a hand.  This was a great opportunity for FSF and GVI to interact with the villagers and demonstrate the importance of re-planting trees in areas of deforestation.   One of the GVI team, Lynsay Bradford, tells us about the day:

Local children help carry the saplings to their new home

Local children help carry the saplings to their new home

Mbambakofi trees are perfect species to introduce into the Shimoni area. These trees once covered the coastal areas, however due to their hard wood components they became readily harvested for production of furniture and houses. Mbambakofi takes centuries to grow and therefore have become endangered through extensive deforestation. Another important factor is the species interaction between birds and the Mbambakofi species. Certain birds such as Crowned Hornbills prefer to forage among Mbambakofi foliage. Re-introducing these trees may encourage more diverse bird populations around Shimoni.

Matata (Chairman of Friends of Shimoni Forest) with the mbambakofi saplings

Matata (Chairman of Friends of Shimoni Forest) with the mbambakofi saplings

An area of 15m x 60m was allocated between the assistant chiefs office and the Immigration Department . The ground being a mixture of coral rag, top soil and some flora; the GVI team were geared up for a full day’s work! The first part of the project consisted of a morning brief, in which Matata (Friends of Shimoni Forest chairman) organized some members of FSF to help with the activities. It was decided that in order to give the trees optimum growing conditions we must invent a goat deterrent, or pray for a miracle! Either way our three pole and sack shelter seemed most plausible…… it was time to get down to the nitty gritty!

Kris digging a new hole, as Lynsay and Matt look on

Kris digging a new hole, as Lynsay and Matt look on

Smiles all round as the work continues

Smiles all round as the work continues

Old poles were foraged from various places including our trusty banda. Rachel and Aisling went on the scavenge for sacks as one team, Kris and Lynsay as another, bearing in mind a Tusker was at stake (may the best team win!). The villagers were very receptive to the idea and donated many materials, including themselves!! Soon after the first hole was dug a number of locals joined in, hacking, sawing and chiseling; before our very eyes 32 holes appeared! The long day GVI and FSF had anticipated turned into a 2 hour village festivity.

Chris and Lynsay construct a 'goat deterent'

Chris and Lynsay construct a 'goat deterent'

Local community members get stuck in

Local community members get stuck in

Meanwhile…… Rach, Kez and Aisling gathered local children to help transport the saplings from Adini’s back garden to their new home. The chief even sent a representative to plant him his very own tree! The whole day was a huge success and the feeling of community spirit was high. It just goes to show that education and conservation can be a fun and fulfilling activity.

The representative for the Area Chief plants his tree

The representative for the Area Chief plants his tree

Planting Mbambakofi Trees In Shimoni Village

After a productive meeting with the Area Chief of Shimoni last week, Friends of Shimoni Forest (FSF) and GVI have set the date to start preparing for and planting 40 saplings of Mbambakofi (Afzelia quanzensis) along the coastline of Shimoni village, tomorrow Tuesday 27th of April.

The Area Chief has a tree nursery at his house, just up the road in the neighbouring village of Anzwani. He has been nurturing over 100 saplings of Mbambakofi that will planted in different areas of Shimoni, Locations included are the coast line, Shimoni Primary and Secondary schools.

An example of the flower (photo courtesy of mpingoconservation.org)

An example of the flower (photo courtesy of mpingoconservation.org)

The Mbambakofi tree (Afzelia quanzensis) occurs from Somalia in the north to Kwazulu Natal in the south and is mainly found in the coastal region in Kenya. The common name is pod mahogany or lucky bean. It grows in altitudes from 0 – 1300m, preferring light / medium sandy soil. It is extremely resistant to drought, and can be the dominating species in areas with deep sandy soil.

The beautiful flowers attract many insects, and are thought to be the main pollinating agent. Hornbills, monkeys and squirrels contribute to the seed dispersal of the species by opening the freshly split pods, eating the red arils and in the process the seeds discarded in their droppings in the surrounding area.

An example of the tree pods (photo courtesy of mpingoconservation.org)

An example of the tree pods (photo courtesy of mpingoconservation.org)

Afzelia quanzensis has become rare due to the timber being prized for carving and construction material, historically being used for making traditional Zanzibar-style doors. Its wood is hard and easy to work with, unfortunately meaning it is one of the first trees to be cut down by locals and many of the largest trees have been felled already to be used for railway sleepers. The exotic coloured seeds are used as counters in board games (e.g. bao) and as beads for jewellery.

Coastal forests of East Africa are lost at alarming rate to deforestation for agricultural land and tourism. They are regarded as a biodiversity hotspot of global importance, containing some of the highest densities of endemic vertebrates and plants of anywhere in the world. Reforestation and education are the key factors in conserving this stunning habitat.

So the tree-planting starts tomorrow! Stay tuned for an update on the day’s events!

Photographs courtesy of Mpingoconservation.org

Visiting The Experts – Part 2

Hello again!

 

So as I said yesterday, Kez (our science and training officer) went up to Ukunda to visit the National Museums of Kenya (NMK) Coastal Forest research Unit to gather information on their tree nursery.  This is because we (friends and Shimoni Forest and GVI) are going to be starting tree nurseries in some of the local schools (you can look back at a previous blog about the FSF meeting we had recently).

 

One of the aims of Friends of Shimoni Forest (FSF) is reforestation, specifically with indigenous trees, and trees that have been highlighted as important for primate species such as the Angolan black and white colobus. 

 

Adansonia digitata - AKA the baobab tree!  A very important species for primates

Adansonia digitata - AKA the baobab tree! A very important species for primates

We realised that starting a series of small nurseries started in schools would potentially have several benefits.  Firstly, it would solve the issue of land and space for the nurseries, as the schools tend to have areas of land that are unused.  Secondly you would have a whole army of children who could take the time to water the nurseries and look after the trees.  And to follow on from this, it will hopefully raise awareness amongst the children of the importance of trees and instil a sense of pride and ownership within them.

 

Of course growing indigenous trees is not that simple.  It is a precise science knowing exactly what species to grow, and therefore how much space, water, light and attention those different species require.  This is why Kez went to visit Saidi, the man who knows it all!

 

NMK Coastal Forest Research Unit tree nursery

NMK Coastal Forest Research Unit tree nursery

She asked him what species he would recommend to begin the nurseries, and he provided us with a comprehensive list.  Some of the key indigenous species for replanting that he highlighted included; Coffea pseudozanguebariae (listed as vulnerable on the IUCN red list), Adansonia digitata, Teclea simplifolia, Ochna thomasiana, fernandoa magnifica and Milicia excelsa.

 

Milicia excelsa - another key species

Milicia excelsa - another key species

He then explained the basic principle of starting a nursery, including what type of bag to plant the seeds in, what the composition of top soil, fertiliser and other substances the trees should be planted in, and how often they should be watered.  He also explained about amounts of direct sunlight the saplings should receive – a crucial factor for the survival of the trees. 

 

It was a very successful meeting, and Kez came away armed with a lot of information.  What was also excellent to see was Saidi’s enthusiasm and approval of the project.  NMK do annual replanting in various different places up and down the coast, but no here in Shimoni, and Saidi said how important it was that someone was doing it.  He also expressed his desire to help, by donating as many seeds as he could for free, and coming down personally to advise in the replanting. 

 

The NMK botanist - Saidi - in his nursery

The NMK botanist - Saidi - in his nursery

So well done Kez, and a huge thank you to Saidi!  We’ll keep you updated on the progress.

 

Matt

Community Conservation Marching Forward

Jambo everyone,

 

A couple of days ago we had a meeting with Friends of Shimoni Forest (FSF) that went rather well, so I thought I’d tell you about it!  GVI work very closely with FSF, passing on the results of our research to them, and helping them to achieve their aims of community-led conservation and sustainable livelihoods. 

 

At the meeting there was myself, Kez and Jodie representing GVI, and about 10 member of FSF including Matata (Chairman) and Athumani (treasurer).  It was really good to see a few of the younger men from Shimoni as well.  FSF are in the middle of a recruitment drive, so we had made a presentation for the newcomers, covering the history and past achievements of FSF, current initiatives and future plans. 

 

Some of the FSF members.  Matata (Chairman) third from the left, and Athumani (Treasurer) second from the left

Some of the FSF members. Matata (Chairman) third from the left, and Athumani (Treasurer) second from the left

 

First on the agenda was the tourist trail.  The tourist trail has been moving ahead well, with the trail cut and ready, but has ground to a frustrating halt due to the lack of tour guides.  GVI had offered to fully train the guides, passing on all of our collective knowledge about the flora and fauna of the forest, as well as the broader environmental issues facing the forest.  We would also provide some basic training on dealing with tourists and hospitality.  Unfortunately, we have had difficulty in finding appropriate candidates.

 

We hope to have solved this problem now, thanks to the presence of two young men who are part of the Safe Shimoni Youth Group.  They loved the idea, and invited us to present the opportunity to their members at their next meeting, as there were many young people just out of school who would jump at the opportunity for free training and further education, and the potential for a job.  We went to their meeting yesterday, and are thrilled to have four enthusiastic new applicants!

 

An area of mangroves that will be seen on the tourist trail

An area of mangroves that will be seen on the tourist trail

 

Next on the agenda was the alternative charcoal we have been researching.  We have lots of information on various different methods, and have begun stockpiling materials.  We are now simply waiting for the prototype briquette press, which has been donated to us FOR FREE!  So a massive heartfelt thank you to Paul Alley and the Beaverton Rotary Fuel Briquette Team!  We discussed the plans for future training, and already have a group of eager volunteers, thanks to the meeting.  We also discussed how to go about harnessing all of the burnable organic waste in the village that is going to fuel our alternative charcoal industry!  We are joining forces with the GVI community development team who are planning a waste disposal drive with the Shimoni Health Committee.

 

An old charcoal pit in the forest

An old charcoal pit in the forest

 

We then put forward the idea of planting fast growing trees such as bamboo and neem, so that they can be harvested for fishing and construction materials – which are a major threat to young trees in the forest at the moment.  The major hurdle right now is land.  There is little or no land in the area that is not in private hands, so the solution is finding people who own land that is currently unused, who would be willing to let FSF plant these trees.  Some ideas included using areas of land in schools, and unused parts of local shambas (farms).  It was mentioned that planting trees on and around farms would yield benefits to the farmers, such as soil anchorage.  A meeting is being set up with local farmers and the village chiefs to discuss the issue of land. 

 

An example of a young tree - the type harvested for construction

An example of a young tree - the type harvested for construction

 

The final point was about tree nurseries.  The forest is in desperate need of re-planting, if we are to begin reversing some of the damage done.  FSF are going to start indigenous nurseries in schools with the advice and help of a local botanist from National Museums of Kenya.  It was decided to start these in schools, as looking after the trees can be done (in part) by the children, and will instil a sense of pride and ownership of the trees, as well as educating them in the importance of indigenous trees to an area like Shimoni Forest.

 

Trichilia emetica - an indigenous tree that is widely used by primate species for feeding, resting and socialising

Trichilia emetica - an indigenous tree that is widely used by primate species for feeding, resting and socialising

 

All in all we think it was a productive meeting, and the ideas produced a lot of enthusiasm amongst the members and non-members alike.  We are going to continue to push these ideas with the communities, and hopefully soon we will have the beginnings of some excellent initiatives that will yield vital changes and benefits, not only for Shimoni forest but for the local people as well.