San going green

25 August 2019 | Agriculture

Even in the arid regions of Namibia, trees can survive, provide shade and improved food security for people.

The San in the Nyae Nyae conservancy have found that trees are more resilient to drought than other plants and once established, are very ­easily maintained. On top of that there's increasing evidence that planting trees may help address climate change.

Earlier this year the idea of planting one billion trees glo­bally to offset climate change was proposed in a study published in the journal Science.

Many villages in the Nyae Nyae conservancy area now have a range of trees providing shade, mulch material and fruit, with some even have medicinal properties. The garden and tree planting project initially focused on food security. Its aim was to increase nutrition particularly amongst children, who were actively engaged in the gardens and planting of these trees.

Teaching them valuable lessons about agriculture and conservation and seeing the fruits of their labour grow and flourish and the conservancy benefit. These trees are hardy and can withstand the desert climate. Especially trees like paw paw and guava saplings were planted.



Going global

The planting of trees locally and globally contributes to cutting carbon in the atmosphere. If one billion trees are planted, they could cut carbon (a part of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide) in the atmosphere by nearly 25%, bringing it down to levels not seen for nearly 100 years, according to scientists.

Although it will take decades for new forests to mature and achieve this potential and decrease carbon globally, tree planting needs to start now. Planting trees now will safeguard future generations and combat climate change.

With the added benefit of provi­ding much needed benefits from their fruits, mulch and medicinal properties, the San are taking advantage of these multiple benefits.

The local Ministry of Agriculture Water and Fisheries provided paw paw and guava plants while other local suppliers provided various citrus, grapes, custard apple, moringa among others. Active pest control and co-­planting insect repelling plants means that no pesticides are needed that are costly and damaging to the environment – thus truly creating a beneficial conservation area within the conservancy.

The San have always lived off the land and they are the first to feel the effects of climate change. These projects and trees help the San adapt to climate change while at the same time starting to plant some of those billion trees that might help offset climate change impacts.

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