TREES FOR AFRICA
Suppose we are going to tackle rising global temperatures and limit it to 1.5 degrees by 2050. In that case, experts tell us to offset Carbon Dioxide, an extra 1 billion hectares of planted trees are needed. So, at least, we have a target. Besides the absorption of carbon dioxide, I think everyone agrees that more trees on the planet would be a good thing anyway.
We are currently losing a football pitch size of rain forest per minute somewhere in the world! So, forest restoration is probably the least painful compromise we could make and have fun doing that simultaneously. At Great Plains, we like to pick something and do it seriously, ourselves.
This month, I am delighted to announce that we have re-engaged Dr Michele Hofmyer as our resident environment botanist. Michele is already designing a rewilding, replanting, and carbon offset program in-house, one that she has been studying for years. She is working with leading experts globally so that our program can be as current as possible. We are already encouraging our guests to plant a tree when they come to our camps, but this will increasingly be a part of our experience offering. The impact of actually digging a hole and planting a tree can genuinely change someone’s life a lot more than swiping a credit card.
And now our secret weapon: Paul Kamau, self-taught indigenous tree expert who runs our entire tree planting program in Kenya.
Paul (if given half a chance) will take you on a Kenyan Maasa Mara located camp Tree Walk. While he encourages questions, you may have to strategically plan them because he answers those questions you haven’t formulated yet. His seedling count is now around 40,000, and he has planted over 5,000 trees already. Paul’s answer to a niggling concern about elephants knocking over trees is simply planting more trees than the elephant can knock down! But a fascinating study illustrates the surprising fact that even though it seems that elephants could be removing trees, elephants actualluy increase the carbon absorption in forests by at least 14% by thinning out the older trees and stimulating the growth of young, carbon-hungry trees.
Paul talks about the Warbugia ugandanesis, a stunning tree (one I have planted myself) with magical powers and medical cures for aches and pains, toothaches, and even the dreaded malaria fever. So besides illuminating our guests, Paul and his fantastic protege Joel have begun sharing their passion with schools and communities, and they have started a ‘Green Wave’ of tree planting. His dream is “to create a tree initiative for every household in Kenya.” This obviously also assists us to offset Carbon Dioxide by planting trees.
Our team of botanists, Michele, Paul, and Joel, will carefully vet candidates in Botswana and Zimbabwe to find additional passionate ‘tree ambassadors’ across our portfolio. Like Paul’s philosophy on simply out planting what elephants eat and knockdown, we can start this green wave and outplant what we destroy each minute, with enough hands in the soil, cradling seedlings into the future.
The future of trees is in our future generations’ hands, so we have incorporated tree education into our Young Explorers Program.
Our Great Plains camps in Kenya have very exciting tree planting activities now, and by the end of this year, all our camps will have planting and botany walks. We can fix this, one tree at a time.
All the best,