What did we do with successes booked a decade ago ?

Photo credit: WVC 1990-07 Fraternisation 08

Arbolle, Prov. Passoré, Burkina Faso: Bois de la Fraternisation

Splendid growth of Acacia nilotica, planted in 1988, already 3 m high in 1990

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Successful reforestation in Burkina Faso / Reboisement réussi au Burkina Faso

Martin H. STAPLE’s comment


Stumbled across this page entirely by chance this evening (20.03.2007) while searching for something else – what a brilliant project! What has the response of the local people and the authorities been? Have there been no problems with people foraging for firewood, or with grazing goats etc.?
Success stories like this deserve to be made much more well-known.

Thanks, Martin, for this nice comment. Referring to a former message on this blog (November 19, 2006), you recognized the remarkable success of our reforestation project. A splendid young wood was developed in a very short period and this without any irrigation, only rainfed. How was this possible ? Well, there is no secret at it! We only applied our soil conditioner TerraCottem (www.terracottem.com) at the beginning of the rainy season way back in 1988, planted different species of tree seedlings from a local nursery and left it to the annual rain to keep the roots moistened enough for continuous growth (also in the 9 months of dry season, mainly through capillary water !). The rain was stocked every year thereafter in TerraCottem’s water absorbent polymers, the moistened soil was continuously setting free more nutrients (mineralisation) and the enhancing organic matter stimulates microbiological activities. We registered a gradual invasion of local herbaceous and woody plant species without any additional seeding or planting, followed by the appearance of an amazing number of animals (insects, birds, reptiles, mammals). Nature responded positively !

Looking back, we noticed that we restored nature with ONE SINGLE ACTION : planting young trees with TerraCottem !

Now, let me come back to your questions : “What has the response of the local people and the authorities been? Have there been no problems with people foraging for firewood, or with grazing goats etc.?”.

Well, Martin, can’t you guess the answers ?

The local people reacted splendidly : they appreciated the reappearance of the former wood (which they had destroyed themselves when collecting firewood !) and they were very happy when we told them 10 years after plantation that now they could even install very small gardens (a few square meter each) here and there in the shade of the trees. You had to see the stars in their eyes !

As for the authorities, they got a report and a Power Point Presentation of the results. We were congratulated with “the nice initiative” and they “would see what they could do about it“.

The local people, having their little fields under the canopies, fully respect the newly formed young wood. They certainly do not allow the cattle to penetrate in the wood (protection of their gardens !).

And the little wood itself ? It is since then expanding by dispersal of seeds from the magnificent trees.

Thanks again, Martin, for your conclusion : “ Success stories like this deserve to be made much more well-known.” With your comment, you contributed to this. After so many years we still hope that authorities, international or national organizations, NGOs or other aid organizations will have the same feeling as yours : this example merits to be multiplied at a very large scale, making successful reforestation as simple as can be.

That day will come !


1988-12 Fraternisation 03
Photo WVC 1988-12 Bois de la Fraternisation 03 : Arbollle (Passoré Province, Burkina Faso) – 4 months after planting tree seedlings with TerraCottem, the team of the University of Ghent-Belgium (Patrick VERVALCKE and Julien DE KEYSER) measure the young trees to study the optimal dosage of the soil conditioner. —————-1988-12 : Arbollle (Passoré Province, Burkina Faso) – 4 mois après la plantation des jeunes pieds d’arbre avec le TerraCottem, l’équipe de Université de Gand-Belgique (Patrick VERVALCKE et Julien DE KEYSER) mesurent les jeunes arbres pour étudier le dosage optimal du conditionneur de sol.


1998-12 Fraternisation 10
Photo WVC 1998-12 Bois de la Fraternisation 10 – 1998-12 : Arbollle (Passoré Province, Burkina Faso) – 10 years later a magnificent young is formed without any irrigation and the only thing we did was planting tree seedlings with TerraCottem. Why should other reforestation projects not set up a test with it? ———— 1998-12 : Arbollle (Passoré Province, Burkina Faso) – 10 ans après, un jeune bois magnifique a été formé sans aucune irrigation et la seule chose que nous avons fait, c’est de planter les jeunes pieds d’arbre avec du TerraCottem. Pourquoi les autres projets de reboisement n’organiseraient-ils pas un test avec ce produit belge?


Author: Willem Van Cotthem

Honorary Professor of Botany, University of Ghent (Belgium). Scientific Consultant for Desertification and Sustainable Development.

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