By Gema Sánchez –
It is well known trees are essential to purify the air and reduce pollution from the atmosphere, but they do much more than that. Trees can bring back life. There are now many examples of animals that once left due to habitat loss coming back to the recovered forests where they used to live. Not only does wildlife need trees in order to survive, but humans are incredibly dependent on them. From trees we get food and shelter (such as windbreak trees), medicines and different materials to use in our everyday lives, like timber and charcoal.
Tanzanian biodiversity is one of the richest across the globe. Six out of the twenty-five globally recognised biodiversity hotspots are within the country’s borders and forests constitute two thirds of it. Even though around 40% of Tanzania’s land is protected, the rapid growth and expansion of population are endangering wildlife. National Planting Day was first held in 1999 in order to fight deforestation, contain desert expansion and raise awareness among the population. Although it is symbolically held on the 1st of April, it varies across regions depending on the rainy season.
The Lindi region, in south-eastern Tanzania, is formed by five different districts, and National Tree Planting Day rotates each year between these administrative units. This year, the event took place in the Kilwa district and was mainly organised by MCDI and WWF Tanzania, in collaboration with Kilwa District Council and the Lindi Regional Authority.
The National Tree Planting event took place in three different locations within Kilwa District. It was held at Kilwa Masoko’s Secondary School, as a means to educate locals on the benefits of planting trees and the dangers of deforestation. Seedlings were also distributed and planted in the Village Land Forest Reserve of Mchakama, as well as Nanjirinji “A” and Nanjirinji “B”. In Mchakama, 390 seedlings of Mvule (Milicia Excelsa), also known as the Iroko Tree, and 160 seedlings of Erythrina Schliebenii, a plant on the edge of extinction, were planted. In Nanjirinji A and B, 980 seedlings of Mpingo trees (Dalbergia Melanoxylon) were planted.
Besides these three specific locations, MCDI invited local people to their office to collect seedlings from different types of tree to plant at their houses and farms. These included a variety of fruit trees, including mango, guava, papaya, orange, plum, as well as species such as teak which serve as wind breaks. Forty eight people benefited from this initiative; they rapidly claimed all 630 trees that MCDI had made available for the occasion, thus demonstrating the willingness of the local population to engage with nature.