Planting trees is an important step in the reforestation process. It is with joy and enthusiasm that tens of thousands of people are planting seedlings for us. The more carefully they are planted, the greater is their chance of survival.
One of the prerequisite for a good growth of the tree seedlings after plantation is a good preparation of the reforestation area. As the seedlings cannot be irrigated after plantation, appropriate precautions as “water reserves” have to be built on the mountains. These are large water ditches, ponds, and very large planting holes. In these water reserves, as much water as possible is stored during the rainy season and then used for the seedlings during the dry season. Furthermore, structures must be built to prevent landslide, rockfall and mudflows during the rainy season. To this end, terraces and retaining walls made of stone or earth are built. In technical jargon, these constructions are called
“Soil and Water Conservation”.
Depending on the region and the onset of the rainy season, the preparatory works usually begin in January and have to be done before the plantation begins in June-July. These works are carried out by the whole village community. A major part is voluntary work (every farmer has to provide 20 days of work each year for the village community). If the maintenance of the forest is transferred to a youth group, the works are under their direction. Expert from the local office of agriculture are consulted to ensure the quality of the work and of the structures.
The second step for successful planting days is the transport of the seedlings from the tree nursery to the reforestation area. As the tree nursery has to be close to year-round water sources, the distance to the reforestation area can reach 10 kilometers. The reforestation areas are often difficult to access, so the transport by vehicles is only possible on a part of the route. And so, once again, the village community helps to bring the seedlings to the depots near the reforestation areas just before the rainy season. The first part of the route is done by vehicles on roads, then with donkey and the last part on the backs (or heads) of people. Vehicles for seedling transport are partly provided by local companies, if available. Women who were given a donkey within the framework of the donkey project also use their donkey and help out.
At the beginning of the rainy season, planting days are fixed during which village communities plant the seedlings that are ready in the depot. Under the direction of the responsible women’s group, youth group or forestry cooperatives, this important and community-building work is undertaken. Experts from the local agricultural office supervise that the seedlings are planted carefully enough, which means not too deep but also not too high, with some humus at the bottom and, if possible, some stones on the planting area. In this way, the seedlings have good chances of rooting and growing until the end of the rainy season, and thus surviving the dry season unscathed. Thanks to great experience and care, the survival rate in our projects is on average around 80%, of course depending how long the rainy season lasts and how much rain falls.
For the reforestation, we support – together with the seedling production – in particular the preparatory works by financing the equipment such as shovels, picks and other material which is necessary for the preparatory work on the mountain. Furthermore, we pay the participants a part of the wage, but the majority of the work is done as voluntary work. Depending on the local conditions, we also financially support the transport of seedlings by trucks and pickups. We attach great importance that the survival rate is determined by counting, a few month after the plantation. The experts needed for this purpose are paid by us.