Andrew Mangwarara —
IT is estimated that at the rate that trees are fast disappearing, only 10 percent forest coverage will someday be left on the planet. It is a really heart-wrenching thought because that scenario could have a catastrophic effect on our lives.
It could mean a lot of things for us chiefly the unavailability of adequate water, clean air and degradation of our agricultural land. The call to plant a tree in your garden, village or farmland should not be taken lightly this summer season. So why should we plant trees this rainy season and we must delve into this subject soberly.
Trees in the garden help to create a micro-climate, have you noticed that when you enter a particular garden there is an ambiance or coolness due to the trees surrounding the garden.
Nothing beats standing in the shade of a tree on a hot summer day. By planting trees all around your garden you screen off the excessive sun waves of summer time.
In this era of the motor vehicle trees help absorb toxic gases converting carbon dioxide to oxygen. Trees give off tonnes of water vapour so trees increase the available humidity around the garden benefiting the rest of the plant life in the area.
Nutrition is one great benefit that comes with having fruit trees in one’s yard. Apples, guavas, avocado and oranges just to mention a few, will supplement a family’s needs. Trees recycle soil nutrients for the garden and some help fix nitrogen in the soil.
Always leave portions of woodlots around your plots as well as these trees help trap water which would otherwise runoff, particularly on steep slopes and preventing soil erosion.
Choose your trees wisely as well as some are more of a menace for the environment. Always go the indigenous way, planting local species which have natural symbiotic relationships with your ecosystem.
Trees provide a layer of organic matter on the soil surface which supports a host of microbial and insect life. Other soil enriching organisms such as earthworms find refuge in the shade of trees. Insect predators find shelter in nearby trees and will help protect your favourite plants, for instance, ladybirds feed on aphids.
Pruned branches and old trees become firewood for cooking purposes. Sustainable harvesting of trees provides not just fuel but also timber for building.
A number of indigenous trees provide a variety of valuable traditional medicine. Large trees can serve as places to build organic composts, which can later be used in the garden. Composts decompose much better retaining most of their goodness if sheltered under trees.
Select indigenous or exotic trees such as acacia abyssinica, acacia sieberana, afzelia quanzensis, albizia gummifera, anthocleista grandiflora, bolusanthus speciosus, croton megalocarpon, ceasalpinia ferrea, , cassia spectabilis, callistemon viminalis, erythrina abyssinica, ficus ingens, khaya nyassica, rauvolfia caffra, trichilia emetica, tipuana tipu, terminalia sericea, peltophorum africanum, parkinsonia aculeata and pordocarpus latifolius.
So the list goes on and on, but before choosing a tree try to do some background checking and plant accordingly. Trees are the future, and we need to do more than just talk about them. Plant, plant and plant as many you can this season. One man once said “plant trees today and future generations will be grateful”.
The onus is on us!
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