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Tony Rinaudo Paperback – 25 May 2018
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- Publisher : Rüffer & Rub Sachbuchverlag (25 May 2018)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 152 pages
- ISBN-10 : 3906304361
- ISBN-13 : 978-3906304366
- Dimensions : 13.34 x 0.89 x 20.32 cm
- Best Sellers Rank: 95,191 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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A HIDDEN RESOURCE
One day in the Maradi region, Rinaudo stopped to reduce the air pressure in his off-road tires so he could travel more easily through the sand. He noticed green shoots growing all around him in the sand. He had always assumed they were useless weeds. But on closer inspection he saw they were coming from an underground stump of a tree. Rinaudo concluded there was a large intact root system supporting it. He saw these green shoots everywhere, a vast network of roots spread beneath the Sahel zone. It was an underground forest with roots resembling the branches of trees, as if stuck in the earth upside down.
HOW to MAKE THEM GROW
He realized that planting new trees was unnecessary, if he could find out how to make these hidden trees thrive above ground. All that was needed was a penknife. Trim back the shoots that were not needed (all but five of them), and the remaining shoots will draw from the vast amounts of sugar and nutrients stored in the root system. Then the tree will grow at a breathtaking pace, reaching five meters (over 16 feet tall) in three years!
WHAT TREES DO
Trees keep the soil fertile and moist. Their shade considerably reduces soil temperatures which produces more rain. Too much daytime heat reflected from the white sand deflected the clouds, so rain usually occurred at night when it was cooler. But torrential rains now occur during the day over tree-covered areas that make the air temperature cooler, ideal for clouds to release their moisture. More moisture staves off droughts and produces more fodder for livestock. When droughts do occur, trees or parts of them can be sold and the cash used to buy food.
Flowering trees provide honey for bees. Certain indigenous trees like the Jujube tree (Ziziphus mauritiana) can be top-grafted with apple shoots. Honey and apples produce incomes for farmers.
Dust storms required farmers to keep replanting crops that were buried. Now trees reduce or eliminate damaging winds, so only one planting is necessary.
Tree canopies increase humidity in nearby crops, reducing plant desiccation.
They shade crops, reducing solar over-radiation.
They reduce soil run-off by reducing wind speeds and storing rainfall in the soil.
They create a "hydraulic lift" by drawing water closer to the surface through their root systems, making it more available to nearby crops.
Trees like the Baobob provides high levels of Vitamin C.
Maize fields fertilized with nitrogen-rich leaves from Faidherbia Albida trees produce 12 to 16% higher yields.
This method of regenerating trees from living stumps is called Farmer Managed Natural Regeneration (FMNR). It costs almost nothing – no seeds, fertilizer, government funds, or special equipment. Currently in the Maradi region alone, more than 1.2 million smallholder farmers practice FMNR.
By 2016 in Niger, FMNR was practiced on 7 million hectares of land. It accounts for the increase in trees from 5 million in the 1980s to over 200 million. In 2009, Niger produced a surplus of 500,000 tons of food, enough to feed 2.5 million people.
In five years in Senegal, FMNR spread to 65,000 hectares and tree density rose from almost zero trees per hectare to over 37 trees per hectare.
Today, FMNR is practiced in 24 African countries.
African drylands contribute over 50% of our total global dust circulation. Their dust concentrations are considerably higher than the rest of the world. Higher child mortality is associated with respiratory illnesses. Trees are now reducing dust levels.
WORLD VISION INTERNATIONAL
Tony worked for World Vision.
Driven by the Christian teaching that every person is made in the image of God (Genesis 1:27), World Vision provides relief during disasters, educates and protects children from violence, and helps impoverished communities find drinking water, grow their own food, provide healthcare, and create jobs.
Outside the city of Sodo, World Vision planted some seedlings in a fenced-off area the size of a football field. Beehives are situated alongside. Initially, trees were grown only to provide wood for fuel. But now apple trees provide more income. One kilo of apples sells for one euro. One kilo of honey sells for two euros. Trees attract wild animals -- baboons, leopards, eagles, warthogs. These animals eat the crops, kill goats, and sometimes harm people. Instead of shooting them, a small nature park is proposed to generate more income through tourism.
People who make charcoal from trees must cut them down. To save the trees, the charcoal-burners are retrained for alternative jobs as tailors and hairdressers. World vision provides small salons and sewing machines. These jobs pay more than charcoal-making.
RICHARD ST. BARBE BAKER
As a boy, Tony read two books by Richard St. Barbe Baker, "I Planted Trees" and Sahara Conquest."
In the first, Baker said, "Trees beautify the country, provide shade for humans and stock, shelter crops from wind and storm and retain water in the soil for use by man. The neglect of forestry in the past has accounted for the deserts that exist, because when the tree covering disappears, the water level sinks. When the forests go, the waters go, the fish and game go, crops go, herds and flocks go, fertility departs. Then come floods, droughts, fire, famine and pestilence."
WHY TREES WERE CUT DOWN
At university, Tony studied agriculture and met his wife-to-be.
They joined Serving in Mission (SIM) and were assigned to the Maradi region in 1980.
At that time, trees were being cut down and sold to buy food. There were only 4 trees per hectare of land (about 2.5 acres).
Population increases meant more trees cut down.
Niger's population increased from 3.4 million in 1960 to 6 million by 1980 and to 6.72 million by 1984.
Maradi's population doubled from 45,000 in 1977 to 110,000 in 1987.
More firewood was needed.
This leads to desertification.
74% of Africa's rangelands and 61% of rain-fed croplands are damaged by desertification.
In some African countries, deforestation rates exceed planting rates by 3,000%.
Dry lands occupy 41% of our planet and are home to more than 2 billion people.
Here crops, forage, and wood are scarce.
These lands are predisposed to drought, flood, landslides, pests and disease.
Climate change is affected.
Dry lands contain over one-fourth of all carbon stores in the world.
300 million tons of carbon are lost to the atmosphere annually.
Reforestation can reverse all this.
THE BATTLE to GROW TREES
Locals view trees as "weeds" which compete with crops for nutrients and water.
Trees also attract grain-eating birds, something no farmer wants to see.
Tree stumps are seen as obstacles which must be removed in order to plow the ground with oxen and have more room to plant crops, especially peanuts.
THE MAD WHITE FARMER
Tony's first task in Maradi was to plant tree seedlings.
But they died from neglect, animals, drought, sand storms or termites.
But the biggest reason was the indifference of the locals who said that planting trees was "God's work, and if He wanted trees, He would plant them!"
Plus, the locals believed trees grew too slowly to provide income that was needed now.
At first, Tony was nicknamed the "mad white farmer."
Then Tony discovered the green shoots coming from an underground tree stump with an extensive root system. When he stopped to let some air out of his tires, he was frustrated that planting little trees was not working. As he looked over the barren landscape almost completely without trees, he asked God to forgive us for destroying the trees which led to untold suffering and hunger. He asked God to open his eyes and show him what to do. That's when Tony discovered that the green shoots came from underground stumps, and pruning them would speed-grow the tree to 16 feet high in three yeaers.
PEACE BETWEEN BEE-KEEPERS and HERDSMEN
In 2010 in Bugesera, Rwanda, beekeepers began having conflict with herdsmen whose livestock would get stung by the bees. In response, the herdsmen would allow their cattle to knock over the hives. They would brush their livestock with insecticide which, killed the bees.
A World Vision project convinced them to work together. They cleared bushes and regenerated trees, producing more fodder for the cattle, and more fruit flowers for the honeybees. The herdsmen agreed to keep their cattle farther away from the hives, and to harvest grass by hand. Regeneration of trees produced more grass by lowering the soil and air temperatures, thus inducing clouds to release their moisture. The trees also produced herbal medicines used for treating both human and cattle ailments.
This reconciliation made dairy products easy to purchase by bee-keepers, and honey available to herdsmen.
THE REBIRTH of DIGNITY
Tony asked a village what was the most significant accomplishment of FMNR.
It was not famine relief, which saved thousands of lives.
It was not the digging of wells which provided fresh water (Old, unlined wells used to collapse).
It was not Zai (compost) pits that doubled crop yields.
It was not the drought-resistent acacia trees.
It was the restoration of their dignity. Think of how soul-destroying it was for parents not to be able to adequately feed, clothe and educate their children. Year after year they were beaten down by poverty, seeing no way out of their predicament. FMNR led to increased incomes and higher yields, even surpluses to help neighboring villages.
As part of the African Forest Landscape Restoration Initiative, by 2030, one hundred million hectares across Africa will be restored with forests.