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Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Tuesday's Tanzania - "Trees for the Future"

 While there were many highlights to our trip, one of the most rewarding days was our first full day, spent learning more about the work that Andrew does as the East Africa Regional Manager for Trees for the Future, an international "agroforestry charity."  This is an incredible organization that teaches, promotes, and supports "tree-planting" to benefit not only the environment but also the community, its crops/livestock,  and the present and future ecosystem, all while supporting community, cooperation, independence, and environmental concern.

We met up with Dr. Issaya, one of Andrew's site coordinators, who was eager to show us some nursery sites.  Our first stop was at the home of an area Lutheran pastor and his wife who were fairly new to the TREES program, but as you can see, were growing a large nursery very quickly (above).  We were told by Dr. Issaya that in October they were already able to pass on over 700 trees.

My favorite stop of the day was to a school participating in the TREES program.  This picture shows just one part of the tree nursery.  When the trees are ready, students may take them home to plant them there, after learning the proper way to plant and care for them.  The woman on the left   introduced herself to us several times as the school's environmental science teacher, a program they take great pride in providing.

 The largest nursery we visited was Dr. Issaya's original one, a beautiful place with trees and shrubs of many varieties, including coffee trees.

Water is a very appreciated resource in Tanzania due to only two rainy seasons (the "long" and the "short"), so this nursery's water collection system was especially interesting - and probably quite helpful given the size of the site.  Although it was a dry day, Dr. I. gave us a good demonstration of how the man-made pump worked.

We also noted the thatched "ceiling" over many younger plants, providing a shield from a very hot sun and keeping in as much moisture as possible.

Our last stop on the TREES tour was an eye-opening stop into Kilimanjaro National Park.  The area surrounding Mt. Kilimanjaro used to be wrapped in natural forest, but sadly, as the photos show, that is no longer true.  Poachers - tree poachers - have gone into the park and "farmed" the forest, decimating the natural landscape and threatening the environment (one of the reasons the "snows of Kilimanjaro" - the glaciers - are melting, is due to the loss of so many trees surrounding the mountain).  Currently, TREES is trying to work with the Tanzanian government to gain permission to plant in the national park in an attempt to re-forest.

If you would like more information about Trees for the Future or would like to receive their monthly newsletter, stop by their website or find them on Facebook.  "Plant Trees. Change Lives."


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