Project Update: October 2006
Kibale National Park is being cut down for firewood. Every Saturday, streams of people enter the park with machetes and leave with logs and trees. Local villagers see little alternative to cutting down the trees. In an effort to showcase the ease of growing firewood at home, the project is promoting native, quick-growing, nitrogen-fixing species (Sesbania sesban) that can be planted around a small farm.
To date, more than 1,000 seedlings have been reared, 500 of which are planted in 5 demonstration sights. Marcamia, also suitable for timber, has also been planted in smaller numbers. Seeds were collected locally and germinated in recycled plastic bags. Volunteers assisted with planting in a fence-like pattern, utilizing the border space around farms in an innovative way.
Upon arriving, project staff found out that Sesbania has been promoted to the locals in the past. Its nitrogen-fixing attributes are appreciated, though its potential as a fuel source has yet to be maximized.
Interest has grown since opening the demonstrations. Though still in its early stages, test cuts on full-grown trees have proven successful and seedlings are growing well. Project staff and volunteers look forward to the rainy season (April 2007) when the newly planted trees will be ready for their first harvest.
For more information on this project please visit http://www.chimp-n-sea.org/
Project Update: May 2007
Harvest time! Planted as seeds in July 2006, our first trees have now come of age.
Utilizing empty space around the borders of a small farm, the planting method promoted by the project has been quite successful. At the Kaburala Center, our main demonstration area, over 125 trees were planted around the farm, without taking any space away from the crops. In fact, the nitrogen-fixing capability of these indigenous trees has helped to fertilize the crops they border. This method is attractive to the majority of local citizens, who do not have the space needed for a traditional wood lot.
By early April, the average tree height at Kaburala was 10.2 feet, with some trees over 16 feet tall! At the beginning of the rainy season, 45 of the trees were harvested. Other trees were left standing to provide seeds for the future, and to help determine the most effective harvest method for this area. (Trees at the five other demonstration areas were left standing for these same reasons.)
In all, the cut trees provided over 32 pounds of firewood and 30 pounds of leaves suitable for use as a healthy livestock forage. We expect to be able to re-cut these trees in October 2007.
Though tests are continuing to help maximize production even further, this first round has been very promising. Home-grown wood can save Kibale!