Trees of Sri Lanka
August 2014 was my second international trip out of my country, Cameroon, and my first outside of the African continent. I have no regrets at all that I took part in this expedition to the great country of Sri Lanka. During this trip we had seed exchange activity with our international friends at Belipola Centre. I came back with so much enthusiasm, determined to get more involved in conservation by playing a key role. My role involves designing TroPEG’s first demonstration site at Diongo Village, training others in conservation techniques, and creating awareness of the reality of climate change.
Learning from the experience of Dr. Ranil Senanayake, a senior researcher and front liner in the action of conservation, we in TroPEG think that a little way we can impact our community is creating analog forestry demonstration plots. Analog forestry is a silviculture technique that is holistic in its approach as it considers trees within a forest ecosystem to be one component (1%) and that for forest to have full capacity we need to consider other life forms (99%). Also, planting trees is just the first step in restoring a degraded forest and for it to have its full beauty and capacity we have to allow nature to self-complicate – by this we mean introducing other life forms within the community to express the complexity of real pristine forest vegetation. It is in this backdrop that we thought it wise to start planting our first international trees in our demonstration site in Diongo village, a few kilometres from Kumba, Cameroon.
Going back in time some five decades, our parents used to plant trees, which was a kind of continuity for the long tree planting tradition established by early humans, who domesticated useful plants around the settlement area. This always permitted them to harvest from trees they planted and in addition have useful trees beside settlements.
Today the case seems different as young people in my generation are gradually losing this tree planting ability. This could partially be attributed to their mindset, which is influenced by the reality of today. People think going urban means separating themselves from trees and forests. Some have completely lost patience with long term achievements, such as waiting for trees to grow: because of the fast pace of life, people think planting a tree whose fruits you have to wait five years to enjoy is a waste of time.
We should remember that most of the fruit trees we enjoy today around us were planted by our great-grandparents. If we do not teach these digital age kids to plant, it’s going to be worse in the future, hence let us start earth greening with kids alongside. Our tree planting in March 2015 included excited kids who wanted to be part of the planting exercise in our demonstration site.