At KFF, all our staff are passionate about the role trees play in our daily leaves. Whether its providing firewood to make breakfast, fruit to have for breakfast, or timber to sit in a chair so we can eat breakfast (and don’t forget the timber for the roof) or the air we breathe as we eat our breakfast, the roles trees play in our everyday lives cannot be overstated enough. It’s the passion of our team that helps us to bring farmers on board and get them as much into tree-planting as we are, well almost.
We work at the household level where we spend a long time getting to know the farmer and understanding what his individual needs and expectations are for the trees he’s about to plant. We then map each farm and identify the most suitable habitat for the desired trees and try to optimise the space available to the absolute maximum (see “Hedgerows, Pollarding and Coppicing”). Initially we keep the number of trees per farmer low to enable the farmer time to allocate resources to successfully manage the trees when they are young. Through our monitoring campaigns we can estimate the survival percentage for each individual farmer and based on this address issues they are facing or where necessary supply more trees. Parallel to this we offer the farmers different trainings on sustainable agroecology such as compositing, organic pesticide production, mulching and a range of different tree management techniques.
Many of the remaining forest patches can be found close to water sources as these enable the quickest regrowth conditions and as such, we have a focus on crater lakes, rivers and wetlands. These forest patches act as a buffer zone and help prevent the soil from washing into the water as well as offering habitat for many useful organisms and by lowering water temperatures reduce evaporation. In the steeper terrain around the crater lakes, these trees can even help to prevent landslides which could otherwise lead to the release of dangerous gases from the bottom of the lakes.
We also train local communities how to manage the forest sustainably and encourage farmers to participate in forest enrichment planting and creating firebreaks as a way of controlling forest fires during the dry season.
Ensuring high survival rates of the trees is our highest priority at KFF. Too many NGO’s make exaggerated claims of the numbers of trees they have planted and never mention the number that has survived or that continues to survive over years. We accompany our farmers from seedling all the way through to useful tree because it is not until the tree has reached a certain age that we can show the farmers how to maximise its value, but more importantly in a way that keeps the tree alive whilst still providing a value. Passion is infectious and once our farmers see how much we care about the trees, it doesn’t long for them to also start acknowledging the benefits.
These three practices are ancient agroforestry techniques known from thousands of years ago that are being lost in Europe but have huge relevance for Africa where trees still represent the primary energy source. The idea is that trees needn’t be killed simply because we need their resources for cooking, building or fencing. Any tree on a farm should be a working tree, one that has a defined role and that is managed in such a way as to provide a service but not so aggressively as to result in the tree’s death.
We have one of the largest indigenous tree nurseries in the country and are proud to have more than 50 different species. These are a range of softwoods, hardwoods, indigenous fruit trees, fodder trees, medicinal trees, pioneer species, drought or wetland tolerant species, nitrogen fixers and the occasional rare wonder. We also conduct propagation experiments and rescue any orchids we find on large cut trees.
Partnerships with the Ugandan Wildlife Authority and National Forestry Authority aid us in collecting enough seeds and seedlings to be able to supply the surrounding communities with trees and also where necessary support community nurseries with seeds.
Due to the expansion of our projects, we are now supporting communities to establish their own nurseries to reduce on transportation costs which pollutes the air but also affects the trees as the roads are hot and bouncy. By mapping out all the mother trees in the area and training the farmers on identification, we enable them to harvest their own seeds and grow the trees ready for planting on their farms.