(Follow-Up, continued from pg. 2)
The planting process of mpingo itself is a difficult and extended one, and Sebastian may be the first person to have experimented with its growth requirements for so many years. At this point, we believe he has reached a high degree of proficiency. The seeds are first sprouted in a seedbed in a specialized process of vertical placement of the seeds in the soil bed; then the seedlings are transplanted twice into larger pots as they mature.
They are kept in a nursery environment for at least 15 months in order to
reach an age at which they can resist ground fire and withstand dry weather conditions.
After replanting into permanent locations, the trees still need to be protected from
wildlife and livestock predation until they are tall enough so they will not be
over-browsed (we estimate about 5 years). Consequently, the planting of mpingo is a
process that will involve at least 5 years of oversight.
Keep a green tree in your heart and perhaps the singing bird
Mbulu is an area west of Lake Manyara in the heart of what are called miombo woodlands, i.e., dry wooded savannah areas with sparse deciduous growth in tropical and sub-tropical Africa. This type of terrain offers ideal growing conditions for mpingo.
Mr. Joseph Aweda, ABCP contact in the area, lives on a beautiful estate overlooking Lake Manyara National Park, one of northern Tanzanias most popular tourist destinations for wildlife viewing, famous for its large population of flamingoes.
Mr. Aweda has long wanted to utilize part of his land for a good cause, and as such has decided to dedicate a certain portion to mpingo conservation.
Last fall, Sebastian and his son, Cyril, traveled to Mbulu to inspect Mr. Awedas proposed planting site and planted about 200 trees. If the rains are good this year, they will continue the planting by clearing some brush and planting about 1300 additional mpingo there. After seeing how these first 1500 fare Sebastian will decide whether to plant more.
On this same trip, Cyril and Sebastian planted mpingo at various business establishments along the way, in places where they know the personnel and feel confident about the care they will give to the trees. One site was a popular curio shop called Zebra Handicraft. After this trip Cyril wrote to the US team excitedly explaining that he had planted 200 mpingo trees!! It was a very special time to spend with his father.
Kilindini Primary School
In order to find planting locations for mpingo where they will be well managed, Sebastian has established connections with a number of Primary and Secondary Schools. Several years ago Sebastian met Mrs. Diana Njau, the principal of Kilindini Primary School, 8 miles east of Moshi, at an educational conference. Expressing an interest in mpingo conservation, she requested 200 seedlings to plant around the school.
Since the school is in possession of several acres of farmland, Sebastian re-contacted her and inquired about establishing a larger mpingo planting project. She enthusiastically agreed to volunteer some of the land to plant mpingo. The trees that have been planted there will receive good follow-up care because they will be integrated into the conservation programs running at the school.
Kisiwani Primary School
In Same Ward (a Ward is a political division of several villages), west of Moshi, there were once many old-growth mpingo, but most of those trees have now been felled. Through one of Sebastians Malihai (youth conservation group) contacts, he set up a project for mpingo planting at Kisiwani Primary School in Same. He is working with teacher Benjamin Mweteni who is interested in helping in a long-range plan to restore mpingo in the area and educate the students and larger community about mpingo conservation. Both teachers and students at the school helped with the planting. Such projects are a good educational tool for students, as horticultural skills developed in childhood can be used in later life.
Kirua Vunjo/Mkonga/Kawawa Road Farmland
Kirua Vungo and Mkonga are villages east of Moshi in an agricultural area where mpingo trees once grew, but the old-growth trees were felled over time as the land was cleared for farming.
Kirua Vunjo is the ward where Elizabeth Chuwa, Sebastians wife, was
raised. She has been educating the community there about mpingo conservation and villagers
are now starting a planting project to reintroduce
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