Tree saplings ready to be planted
Every year during the rainy season, the CREATE! communities in rural Senegal take part in a tree-planting campaign. With the generous help of donors like you, the Government of Senegal’s Department of Water and Forestry that provide some of the tree saplings, and the CREATE! technicians who provide training, the communities plant about 20,000 trees every year. Preparation for this campaign starts early, with communities establishing tree nurseries in their cooperative garden sites. As Fatou, a beneficiary from Yougouré points out, the community members take pride in sowing seeds and caring for them with regular watering till they are ready to be replanted around the village. The sowed seeds as well as the saplings are cared for in “sachets” which are small black bags donated by the Department of Water and Forestry. Preparing for reforestation is not always easy though with soaring temperatures and pest attacks that are common during the summer months in Senegal. But with training from the CREATE! technicians, the communities persevere. They water the saplings regularly with water from the rehabilitated wells and use recycled mosquito nets to protect the saplings from pests.
Rainy season in Senegal lasts approximately from late June to late September. With the advent of the rains, the communities start planting the saplings they cared for all around their communities. Trees are planted in the cooperative garden sites as well as schools, mosques and individual homes. The community members are trained to take care of the saplings that they plant. These trees provide much needed shade where community members can sit and relax after a hard day’s work. Fatou from the community of Gagnick Mack for example has planted four trees in her house that she got from CREATE! and enjoys sitting in their shade with her children.
Together with trees that provide shade, communities also plant fruit and nut trees like bananas, papayas, cashews as well as trees that provide windbreak and can act as living fences in the community gardens. Acacia mellifera is a tree that grows fast and can soon form a nearly impenetrable barrier around the garden sites. This protects the garden from pests like cows, goats, donkeys and rodents. The local saying in Senegal is that even snakes cannot slither through it, which makes this variety of Acacia a favorite for the living fences, an inexpensive and culturally appropriate innovation for the cooperative gardens. Trees are also used as firewood in the region, so planting new trees every year is essential.
This year, two of CREATE!s new communities, Diabel and Yougouré are participating in the tree planting campaign for the first time. Diabel is establishing papaya and moringa plantations. The garden cooperative president of Diabel is thrilled to have her community participate in the campaign. She hopes that soon her village will become an oasis like the other CREATE! communities. While tree planting happens during the rainy season, these trees will be maintained year round with the water from the rehabilitated wells in the communities.
Trees regulate weather, which is important in the rural communities of Senegal that otherwise face extreme hot temperatures. Reforestation is a significant component of climate change mitigation strategies. A new study published in Science Magazine in July 2019 (https://science.sciencemag.org/content/365/6448/76) finds that adding 2.2 billion acres of tree cover would capture two-thirds of man made carbon emissions. CREATE!s reforestation efforts might be small steps, but they are steps in the right direction made possible by generous donations by donors like you.
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Women in Diabel sowing seeds in "sachets"
Tree sachets are watered regularly
Bednets used to protect the saplings from pests
Acacia saplings are used in living fences
Saplings planted to form living fences in future