Proposal: Planting One Billion Trees in Africa

BobGFlynn bobgflynn at
Fri Jul 29 09:37:05 EST 1994

In article <318s2g$t2r at>, sdan at (Jamal
Al-Noor) writes:

First let me say that I applaud your project.  There have been other
projects which took into account the need for fuelwood, but to my
knowledge these were on much too small a scale to have much impact.

All of my experience has been with the private sector.  I was a
reforestation forester for a major timber company in Oregon, and as a
consultant for the last 6 years I have worked almost exclusively for
private companies.  My general impression has been that large, government
funded projects have not been terribly successful in third world
countries, whereas some private enterprise planting programs have been
very successful for just a fraction of the cost.  I just returned from
Costa Rica, where Stone Container has gone from nothing to a fairly
sophisticated planting program with gmelina in 5 years.  I have dreamed of
having the resources to apply private sector methods to
afforesting/reforesting denuded landscapes in countries such as
sub-Saharan Africa-- I think one highly successful program could, as you
suggest, be a real catalyst for change.

In response to your questions:
1. One billion trees is by far too many.  It is a catchy number, but you
are just setting yourself up for failure by aiming too high.  Four years
is not much time to develop a program, establish nurseries, etc.  If you
could plant 10 million seedlings, that survived!, then you will have a
success to point to that could lead to a much larger program in the
future.  My advice would be to pick one or two countries, focus your
efforts there for 4 years to create a significant, successful program, and
then expand that into other countries with the people you have trained.
2. Species- no specific advice- just don't make the mistake of trying to
find one magic species that you can plant everywhere.  Microclimates are
different, the cultural needs of the people are different, the type of
nurseries you want to have will impact what kind of tree should be used,
3. Costs- more advice- all the costs you will be quoted will likely be too
high- that is, US$500 per hectare and higher is a fairly common number,
but if your program is to succeed with people at extremely low income
levels, you will have to find a way to keep costs much lower.

Good luck

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