ENVIRONMENTInternational Day of Forests 2019: Protecting Indigenous Trees

Maureen SantosMarch 25, 20192986 min

The world is heating up to intolerable levels, killing both land and marine species as oceans continue to get warmer.

Many see reforestation as the answer to combat climate change. In lieu of the International Day of Forests, the UN collaborates with Nicholson and his Plants for Life International. The group is a non-governmental organization with an objective to let people know the importance of indigenous trees to our local ecosystems.

According to botanist Mark Nicholson, nearly everything in the forest which included the 20 meter-high trees were planted back in 2000. Since then, they have observed a massive growth in biodiversity. Most of the trees were exotic and not native to the land at the time. These non-native trees species include wattle, eucalyptus, pine, and cypress. Over the past few years, the species of birds have increased from 35 to 187.

Moreover, colobus monkeys returned in 2015 after 80 years of non-appearance. The primates reappeared because of the shelter and sustenance the indigenous trees can provide them.

Nicholson’s forest is known as Brackenhurst Botanic Garden. It is almost 2,000 meters above sea level and lies 30 kilometers north of Nairobi, Kenya. This 40-hectare forest is planted with more than 650 species of indigenous trees and shrubs.  The Plants for Life is a member of Botanic Gardens Conservation International. It is the world’s biggest plant conservation system.

The Plants for Life and UN-REDD Programme will have a stance on the day itself (March 21) on the UN Compound. The event will take place in Nairobi where hundreds of tree seedlings from 12 different species of indigenous trees await planting. UN staff along with their families are expected to attend and promote tree-planting. They can also bring seeds home to plant in their backyards or school compounds.

UN Environment ecosystems expert Tim Christophersen said, “The theme of the International Day is ‘Forests and Education’, and our aim is to get a message out that indigenous trees and shrubs are vital for healthy biodiversity and human well-being.”

There are trees that “fix” nitrogen while there are some that create quality mulch, enhancing the soil. Some woods are suitable for carving or producing timber with high quality. Not all indigenous olive trees can produce olive oil but they can be made into sturdy furniture. Most people are not aware of the medicinal value as well as the income that certain indigenous trees can generate.

In Zimbabwe, Forestry Commission general manager Abedinigo Marufu is considering a ban on the use of indigenous trees for curing tobacco. Such procedures have caused the thinning of indigenous trees logging in the region.

According to Marufu, between 15% and 30% of deforestation is because of tobacco curing. By 2020, the use of indigenous trees will be prohibited. He added that starting next year, farmers are required to present their licenses to serve as proof of built woodlots. They can also use coal for tobacco curing instead.

Tobacco has been one of the leading income generators for Zimbabwe. However, its production induces so much damage to the environment. Most small-scale farmers rely on wood thus causing the government to limit their traditional practices. Deforestation proliferates in Mashonaland provinces where tobacco is widely grown.


Maureen Santos

She lets everyone become aware of what is happening to our beloved planet Earth and its inhabitants. She can take you beyond the space and find out how neighbor planets are doing. Moreover, she would open your eyes to the things what makes the Earth suffer including the living species and allow you to decide what you can do to help save the planet and the future generation.

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