As a proud Rotarian, I was delighted when our Global President adopted a very exciting project for the year of his leadership and his request was simple – asking every Rotarian world-wide to plant one tree which would mean an additional 1 million trees.
South Africa loved the idea but as Capetonians we were faced with an additional challenge in that we’re being asked to plant trees in one of the worst droughts we have ever experienced.
But South Africans are used to “maak ‘n plan” and we looked for creative solutions like growing water-wise trees like the Spekboom or planting them in schools and parks where we knew they would be looked after in those first few years.
So successful was the Cape Town initiative that rather than just one tree per Rotarian we ended up with nearly three trees each, a clear testimony to how we had adopted this initiative.
But still it’s only a drop in the ocean or in this case the forest.
Every year, we as a planet cut down about 15 billion trees and getting them replaced is a very slow and expensive process, but there is a potential answer in something called seed balls or if you want to be a green militant, a seed bomb, and it’s such a simple process.
A seed is placed inside a ball of charcoal dust or clay, which protects the seed against animals and birds and extreme temperatures, until the rain arrives, and the seed begins to germinate.
It is as simple as throwing and growing. Seed balls are currently being used in Kenya and several countries around the world where in Kenya alone, nearly 6 million trees are cut down every year. This unique method not only makes the planting process faster but also radically cuts down the cost and can be as cheap as about 2 US cents per ball.
Firewood is crucial in Kenya where 90% of rural homes use wood as their main fuel. Seed balls are very popular and so far, almost 2 million have been sold and they are just as easy to make as demonstrated by loads of YouTube videos.
It sounded like such a great initiative that I did a little research on, and discovered that it is an ancient growing technique and not just for trees.
In ancient Egypt the technique was used to repair farms after the annual flooding of the Nile and they would use small clay balls filled with rice seeds and throw them on the banks of the river. After the river flooded the clay was heavy enough to hold the seed and protect it long enough for it to germinate at little effort and small cost.
The technique was resurrected in Japan after World War II when they needed to speed up food production without taking away from traditional agricultural lands.
Google it and see some of the crazy and innovative ways people are distributing the seeds. From shooting them into fields using catapults to seeding the earth from planes.
I love it, creative solutions to save or replace our forests can only be a good thing.