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Tree Planting: Plant a number equal to your age
Updated 2nd May 2012
To counter global warming, land degradation and dwindling natural resources, the world needs a 10% forest cover. This is the barest minimum which translates to each country in the world maintaining a forest that is at least 10 % of its land mass. Some countries are arid anyway, so maintaining a forest has not a matter of choice. Arid lands occupy at least 40 percent of the global land mass. In East Africa alone, Kenya is 70 % arid; Ethiopia is 50%; Tanzania 50%; Uganda 30% while Rwanda is 20% arid. Some countries which boast of some forest cover have less than one percent of forest and even this little forest cover is disappearing through illegal logging.
How many trees will you plant this year?
Nearly 400 million Africans live in Arid and Semi Arid lands. With populations ever on the increase, overgrazing and harvesting firewood is putting pressure on the diminishing shrubs. Note also that it is not traditional for nomadic communities to plant trees or shrubs for animal fodder. When resources are depleted and rainfall fails, nomads do what they have done for centuries – they decamp in search of ‘greener pastures.’ This leads to overgrazing in new areas and the depletion more trees!
Lack of trees and overgrazing leads to serious problems in an never ending cycle of land degradation. Soil erosion leads to dust bowls causing the loss of millions of tons of top soils that took millions of years to form. In farming areas things are not any different. Farmers also clear new farmlands by cutting down trees, some of which are used for fire wood. The good news is that farmers are in the business of planting and can easily learn the importance of Agro-forestry. With well planned government programmes, farmers can plant 10% of their holdings with trees whose leaves can be used for fodder, while other tree species will yield timber in the span of 10 to 15 years.
Who will re-carpet the world with a 10 % forest cover? This task cannot be left to farmers and reluctant pastoralists alone. Every living soul can put a drop in the ocean so to speak. That means you, your neighbour and I wherever we find ourselves in this Global Village can begin to do something. If you do not know where you can plant your tree, someone in your County, Municipal or City Council knows. It may be in a public park or along a city street – It may be along the banks of a river, or even in your private small holding - anywhere, as long as the tree will be given a chance to grow. One campaign doing the rounds is for everybody to plant a number of trees equal to their age. Yes, if you are 20 years old, plant 20. If you are 30, plant 30.
Illegal loggers destroying forest cover
Kenya loses 5.6 million trees every day from massive defforestation. The trees are felled clandenstinely for timber and charcoal. Clearly the forest cover is shrinking at an alarming rate. This is according to the Daily Nation of 2nd May 2012. The campaign to ‘plant your age’ is an initiative of the Kenya Forestry Service with Green Africa Foundation, UNEP, Kenya Wildlife Service and Rotary Clubs of Kenya. The drive aims to plant 5 million trees in one week. However, if the daily loss from illegal loggers is not stemmed, the effects of the campaign will have been reversed in a few years. This should not discourage you from planting your share of trees. Do your part and leave governments to deal with criminals.
If every soul on this planet planted trees equal their age, global warming would at the very least be slowed. Water resources would be replenished by increased rainfall and the ever-growing world population would have more food, more fuel and less wrangling over natural resource. In April I personally planted 70 trees, more trees than my actual age. How many trees will you plant before the year is over? To hit your target, start exploring where to get the seedlings now. You can even start your own seed bed and be a supplier to your friends and relatives. If I have convinced you about planting trees, you can convince others. Let’s all do something to make our planet green all over again. Like Wangari Maathai, said, be like the humming bird that helped to put out a forest fire with one drop at a time.