School children with trees after one year of growth

School children with trees after one year of growth

During a recent visit to my oil palm farm at Kwame Adjei in the Ashanti Region, I was able to check on what you might refer to as  a long term project – my “timber plantation”.

Allow me to explain. About the time that I was buying the farm in 2004, a Quebec based nursery company had been commissioned by the Forestry Department to demonstrate an improved method of starting nursery stock used in reforestation in Ghana. In a serendipitous meeting at our hotel, the African Rainbow Resort, we met the expert who was overseeing the project, Claudine Ethier. Claudine described her work, which was very fascinating, and spoke about the potential for communities to become involved in nursery and reforestation projects.

The project was coming to an end, and Claudine told me that a number of seedlings had been started and were likely to be discarded. I offered to take them off her hands and she was pleased to see the seedlings planted rather than have all of that effort wasted.

Comfort and I drove our pickup one day to the nursery near Kumasi and in two trips we were able to collect almost 1,200 seedlings. The first 60 seedlings were taken to the Primary School in Comfort’s home village, Amudurasi. The children planted them in a row between one of the classroom blocks and the highway. Within 24 months, the tallest of these was more than 25 feet tall!!!

The remaining seedlings were transported to my farm. I hired four men from Amudurasi to go with me. These were all men who are accustomed to the arduous work of clearing bush in

A cederella which has grown through the canopy

A cederella which has grown through the canopy

preparation for farming. Within a period of a week, they had managed to cut paths through the dense undergrowth to enable the seedlings to be planted. The majority were planted in four rows along one side of the farm, with two rows around much of the remaining perimeter of the farm. Within several months the first rains had come and the pathways that had been cleared were overgrown again but the species are adapted to such conditions and will eventually grow through the canopy and in time they

This is the forest that it grew through

This is the forest that it grew through

will tower above it.

In thirty years, these trees will be approaching a size large enough to begin harvesting them for timber. Many of the local inhabitants questioned the economic wisdom of planting something which would require more than thirty years before it could be harvested, especially considering that the man who was doing the planting would not likely be the one who was going to benefit from the harvest. I have not been too bothered by those concerns.

Planting trees was part of my upbringing on my father’s farm. As a child, I played on maple trees that had been planted by my grandfather shortly after he and his father homesteaded. I remember accompanying my Grandfather as he drove a horse drawn cultivator in the shelter belts that he and my father had planted on that farm before I was born. As a teenager, I helped my father and mother and brothers when we planted even more tree belts. And when Comfort and I bought our farm a number of years later, one of the first things we did was plant rows of trees around the farm yard.

The trees at the school yard - 4 years of growth

The trees at the school yard - 4 years of growth

I guess you could say that planting trees has just been a part of my life. Planting trees in Africa is just a continuation of my previous life, and with global warming almost a buzz word these days, I am sure that I have not yet planted my last one!

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