Reforestation success with the ‘Navajo’ willow (Willem Van Cotthem)

In 1997, a small cutting (25 cm, 10 inches) of the Navajo willow tree (Salix matsudana) was planted in my garden in Belgium.  Today, ‘my’ Navajo willow is almost 12 meter high.

Looking for simple methods to make reforestation projects in the drylands more successful (by limiting irrigation-repetition and enhancing survival rate of the trees in dry climatic conditions), I started growing willow cuttings in plastic bottles (container gardening).  After cutting up a rather thin branch of the tree in small pieces (8-10 inches, 20-25 cm), I kept these fine cuttings in a glass of water until they were sufficiently rooted (which is occurring quite quickly with willow cuttings).  Then I planted each of the cuttings in a plastic bottle filled with potting soil.

BOTTLE REFORESTATION

2009-11 Navajo willow cuttings in a glass of water

2009-11-20 – Two weeks later all cuttings had rooted.

2009-11-22 – Rooted cutting in a juice bottle with potting soil.

2009-11-22 – Juice bottle twice perforated 1 inch (2,5 cm) above the bottom to drain surplus of water.

Two opposite perforations 2,0-2,5 cm above the bottom to avoid acidification of the potting soil.

2009-11-29 – One week after planting in the bottle (cutting 3 weeks old), the willow cutting is shooting remarkably well.

From here off, I let the cuttings develop a strong rootball in the bottle.  Numerous absorbing roots are growing throughout the potting soil, which is easily kept moistened because evaporation is minimal (small bottleneck) and because at the bottom of the bottle a small quantity of water is stored, up to the level of the two perforations.  From this small water reserve, all the water needed is sucked up by the potting soil staying permanently moistened.  The only minimal volume of irrigation water that has to be added is the one that is transpired by the leaves.

It is my intention to plant these cuttings when a good number of roots reach the bottom of the bottle and start curling.  At that moment I will cut off the bottom of the bottle at the level of the two perforations, i.e. at 1 inch or 2,5 cm from the bottom.  Taking off that bottom cup of the bottle,  I will set the lower part of the rootball free and a number of young roots will hang out off the bottle.

Now I will plant this young willow tree, bottle and all, in a plant pit, taking care of keeping the upper part of the bottleneck above the soil surface.  The bottle, still containing the major part of the rootball, will be buried completely except for the top inch of it, popping out of the soil to allow once or twice additional watering.  The bottom part of the rootball, which was hanging out of the bottle, will now be in direct contact with the soil of the plant pit.  Minimal watering through the bottle will keep those bottom roots moistened, so that they will start growing into the soil.  In the meanwhile, the rootball inside the bottle will be keeping the young willow plant growing.

At the end of the day, the young willow plant will be rooting deeper and deeper in the soil, so that watering will be less needed.  The growing willow stem will finally break up the plastic bottle of which the small debris will sit for a longer time in the soil.

Knowing that with this ‘bottle reforestation’-method survival rate will be significantly higher, the advantages of booking a total success with this way of reforesting are more important than the fact of burying some plastic bottles here and there.  Anyway, better to bury that plastic than to leave it littered in the environment.

REFORESTATION WITHOUT PLASTIC BOTTLES

In February 2010, my good friend Marc PILLE took some Navajo willow cuttings home in Belgium and kept them simply in a plastic shopping bag with 2-3 inches (5-8 cm) of water for two weeks.

He observed that the bigger cuttings (a finger thick) were rooting much quicker than the thinner ones.

Then he took the cuttings to his projects in Mali (Sahel country, West Africa) and planted them directly in the dry soil of a nursery.  He watered them from time to time to keep the soil moistened and to stimulate more rooting.

Within the first two weeks after planting in the hottest and driest period of the year, a number of cuttings started shooting already.  This shows that the drought-resistant Navajo willow (Salix matsudana) could be a fantastic tree species to be used for reforestation in the drylands.  These first results indicate that the Navajo willow can be an excellent tool to combat desertification.

2010-02 – Simple plastic shopping bag filled with 5-8 cm of water in which the willow cuttings were kept for two weeks.

2010-02 – Thin cutting did not started rooting yet.

2010-02 – But thicker cuttings did remarkably well.

2010-03 – Willow cuttings were planted inside the nursery fenced with wooden poles.

2010-03 – Some of them started shooting within the first two weeks after planting.

2010-03 – The drought-resistant Navajo willow only needs a minimum of moisture in the soil to start budding and shooting. Very promising for reforestation purposes in the drylands.

My sincere thanks go to Marc PILLE for his valuable contribution.

REQUEST TO VISITORS OF THIS BLOG

Cuttings of Navajo Globe Willow (Salix matsudana ‘Navajo’)

As we are setting up tests with drought-resistant varieties of trees to be introduced in the drylands, we are looking for small cuttings (20-25 cm, 8-10 inches) of the Globe Navajo willow (Salix matsudana ‘Navajo’).  We would be very grateful to receive some cuttings from different origins to compare drought tolerance.

================
‘Navajo’ is a very hardy tree, adapted to high desert climates, round-headed upright and fast-growing, spreading, large, deciduous, long lived tree, medium-sized, 20’ to 70′ tall and wide.

The tree seems to be sheared into a perfect ball. Its branching habit results in a characteristic globe shape: a broad, rounded, perfectly symmetrical crown spread of mostly fifty feet. Young 15’ tall trees start showing the rounded crown.

Slender leaves are bright green, lance-shaped, 2″-4″ long, turning yellow in fall.

Unlike most willows, this variety is popular in high desert and drylands because it is drought tolerant, adaptable to a wide range of soil conditions

The name of the ‘Navajo’ variety of the Globe Willow is probably synonym with ‘Umbraculifera’.

The Navajo Globe Willow is related to the Corkscrew willow (Salix matsudana ‘Tortuosa’).  Cuttings of this Corkscrew Willow would also be welcome.

===============

Please send some cuttings to:

Prof. Dr. Willem VAN COTTHEM
BEEWEG 36
B 9080 ZAFFELARE (Belgium)

$34 MILLION TO ASSIST DROUGHT-STRICKEN GUATEMALANS (UNNews)

Read at : UNNews

UN AND PARTNERS SEEK $34 MILLION TO ASSIST DROUGHT-STRICKEN GUATEMALANS

New York, Mar  5 2010  2:05PM

The United Nations, together with the Guatemalan Government and aid partners, today launched a $34 million appeal to counter food shortages affecting 2.7 million people living in the Central American country’s so-called ‘dry corridor,’ which even before last year’s drought had one of the highest rates of chronic malnutrition in the world.  The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (<“http://ochaonline.un.org/”>OCHA) said today’s appeal will complement national relief efforts and provide support for food, health, nutrition, agriculture and early recovery, as well as water, sanitation and hygiene projects for six months for some 680,000 people living in departments in the eastern section of the country, including the dry corridor – Jutiapa, Santa Rosa, Zacapa, Chiquimula, El Progreso and Baja Verapaz – and the neighbouring Izabal and Quiché. Global acute malnutrition among children under the age of five in the dry corridor and the two neighbouring provinces is at 11 per cent, and at 13 per cent among women of child-bearing age. Both figures are above the emergency threshold of 10 per cent.  The dry corridor had faced annual food shortages before, but this year, the situation is exacerbated by a combination of bad weather and bad economics. Continue reading “$34 MILLION TO ASSIST DROUGHT-STRICKEN GUATEMALANS (UNNews)”

No Green Wall without small-scale gardens for women (Willem Van Cotthem)

My attention was caught by some statements in Mrs. Priscilla ACHAKPA’s interview, referred to a former posting on my desertification blog:

Nigeria: WEP Wants Green Wall Sahara Programme (http://allafrica.com/stories/201002180504.html)

This Executive Director of the Women Environment Programme (WEP) urged the Nigerian Government to speed up the implementation of the Green Wall Sahara programme (GWSP), which she called “an integrated development strategy for combating desertification and mitigating the effects of drought and climate change” (see also UNCCD).

Mrs. ACHAKPA observed that the impact of desertification raised security concerns, especially among the vulnerable groups.  She stated that “the impact of climate change is more on women in the rural areas as they have little or no understanding of the issues involved”.  Her NGO, the WEP, intends to conduct a study on gender awareness of climate change issues, because adequate information on climate change is necessary to evolve steps to control it.

Agreeing with some of Mrs. ACHAKPA’s ideas, I want to congratulate her for asking to speed up the implementation of the Green Wall programme.  Indeed, such a nice programme, being a real challenge for all the Sahelian countries involved, merits massive support to speed up its achievement.

On the other hand, I disagree with her that Nigerian and other Sahelian rural women will be better off with “adequate information on climate change necessary to evolve steps to control it“.  Even supposing that there would be a small chance to find adequate information on climate change for rural women, I am not so sure that this will help these vulnerable women to handle their security concerns raised by the impact of desertification.

Even if the Green Wall programme may play a little bit of an interesting role in some aspects of climate change, it will not be tremendously important for the rural families in the northern provinces of Nigeria and in the other countries concerned.  I rather believe that it would be more efficient to invest in awareness building of the local population about the need to combine small-scale agriculture (or gardening) with reforestation in the Green Wall programme (agroforestry).

No doubt, we are all aware of the fact that such an enormous reforestation plan, with billions of trees to be planted in the Sahel belt, can never be achieved without “an army” of labourers for growing seedlings, digging plant pits and planting the seedlings.  These labourers will have to be well fed.  Tons of food will have to be produced at the local level.  By whom ?  By the local women ?  In this case, we would prefer that long time before the activities of the GWSP start all women can get “adequate information on ways and means to cultivate sufficient food for hundreds (thousands ?) of labourers of the GWSP working in their region”.

We can’t imagine that these women would be more interested in climate change issues than in best practices of food production in their dry region.

If well trained in cultivating all necessary species of vegetables and fruits, (dryland farming), they can not only use these skills during the implementation of the GWSP, but also for the rest of their life and that of their children, grandchildren, …

Therefore, just allow me this little piece of advice : start today laying out a small-scale garden for every woman in the northern provinces of Nigeria where the GWSP will be applied, because if there is not sufficient food production in those provinces when the labourers have to start planting trees, there will not be a Green Wall at all. Never, because planting trees with an empty stomach is so extremely difficult.  We all know this, even those strongly interested in climate change.

Nigeria: FG to Use ‘Cactus Opuntia’ (Google / allAfrica / Daily Trust)

Read at : Google Alert – desertification

http://allafrica.com/stories/201002110283.html

Nigeria: FG to Use ‘Cactus Opuntia’ Plant to Combat Environmental Degradation

The Federal Government has recommended that “Cactus Opuntia” plant should be used to combat desertification in Nigeria, Minister of Environment Mr John Odey has said.

He made the statement on Tuesday in Abuja at a sensitisation workshop on the “Utilization of Cactus Opuntia to combat desertification, organised by Interact Safety System Ltd.

He said that the plant was selected, due to its potential in erosion control and land rehabilitation, especially in the arid and semi-arid zones of the country.

// //

“Nature has equally presented us with good opportunities, which if properly exploited, will produce positive impact on the socio-economic developments of the region,” he said.

Odey said that the government would continue to promote partnership with stakeholders in its efforts to combat the environmental problems facing the country.

The Senate Committee Chairman on Environment and Ecology, Mrs. Grace Bent, described Cactus Opuntia as “the mother of all discoveries” because of its potential in combating desertification.

“We shall no more lament the state of environmental degradation in the north, ranging from desertification and deforestation in the area,” she said.

=================================

MY COMMENT (Willem Van Cotthem)

This week, the Federal Government is recommending the use of the Opuntia cactus to combat desertification.  Already in 2006 we described its potentials to play an interesting role in the daily life of people and animals in the drylands : see <http://desertification.wordpress.com/2006/11/13/success-story-with-opuntia-in-brasil/>

Indeed, planting spineless varieties of Opuntia ficus-indica can be very rewarding, not only to combat desertification, but also to produce fodder for animals. These varieties are growing quickly with a minimum of water in the drylands of all continents. Cacti normally have a wide appeal to growers of ornamental plants, but they have only few economic uses. However, some species of cacti produce edible fleshy fruits (raw, jam, syrup). Some other species are used in living hedges or even for furniture. Commercial plantations of the spineless “prickly pear” Opuntia are already found in Brasil, Mexico and California. The disk- or racketlike, superposed parts of the Opuntia stems can be used as fodder. Goats, sheep and cows eat the fresh disks when these are cut into slices. One can also have the sliced disks sundried, grinded to flour and mixed with a bit of water for animal consumption. Feeding cactus slices or cactus flour significantly enhances meat and milk production. Opuntia plantations on contour lines help to limit erosion on slopes. Regular harvesting of newly formed disks for vegetative multiplication is easy.

I therefore recommend to apply these spineless varieties of Opuntia at the largest scale in the reforestation projects of all the  drylands of this world, in particular in the Sahelian countries (e.g. in the Green Wall programme).

Collecting seeds of dragonfruit and tree tomato for development projects (Willem Van Cotthem)


Dragonfruits and tree tomatoes can be bought in supermarkets or fruit shops.

Dragonfruit is grown on the cactus Hylocereus :

  • Hylocereus undatus (Red Pitaya) has red-skinned fruit with white flesh, the most common “dragon fruit”.
  • Hylocereus costaricensis (Costa Rica Pitaya, often called H. polyrhizus) has red-skinned fruit with red flesh
  • Hylocereus megalanthus (Yellow Pitaya, formerly in Selenicereus) has yellow-skinned fruit with white flesh.

The fruit contains hundreds of black, shiny little seeds sitting in the pulp.  One can wash out the tender pulp in a fine sieve and dry the seeds on a plate (not on paper).  They usually germinate around two weeks after shallow planting.  Dry seeds can be sent to us (Beeweg 36 – BE9080 ZAFFELARE (Belgium).  We offer free seeds to different development projects in the drylands, thus enabling hungry people to grow fresh fruits in a sustainable way.

Dragonfruit (Hylocereus undatus) growing on a climbing cactusDragonfruit (Hylocereus undatus) growing on a climbing cactus

Cross-section of  dragonfruit with black seeds in white pulpCross-section of dragonfruit with black seeds in white pulp

Shiny seeds in rests of white pulp after sievingShiny seeds in rests of white pulp after sieving

Seeds germinating on houshold paperSeeds germinating on houshold paper

The tree tomato grows on a Cyphomandra betacea tree.

Oval fruits only look like tomatoes.  The juicy orange pulp with purply red seeds can be washed out in a fine sieve by squeezing the pulp under running tap water.  The dark colour of the seeds (anthocyanins) disappears gradually until they are brownish.  Seeds can be dried on a plate (not on a paper).  Seedlings develop quite easily in humid potting soil.

Dry seeds sent to us (see address above) are offered for free to development projects in the drylands, where these tree tomatoes bring fresh food full of vitamins to the local people.  Thus, anyone can contribute to alleviate hunger and malnutrition in this world.

Tree tomato (Cyphomandra betacea), an interesting fruit to be groiwn at the largest scale in the drylands.  The tree should be incorporated in reforestation programs.Tree tomato (Cyphomandra betacea), an interesting fruit to be grown at the largest scale in the drylands. The tree should be incorporated in reforestation programs.

Cross-section of tree tomato with orange flesh (juicy pulp) and dark red seedsCross-section of tree tomato with orange flesh (juicy pulp) and dark red seeds

Seeds of tree tomato sit on their small stalkSeeds of tree tomato sit on their small stalk

When purplish red anthocyanins are washed out the seeds turn brownishWhen purplish red anthocyanins are washed out the seeds turn brownish

All contributions of dragonfruit seeds and tree tomato seeds are most welcome.  In the name of all the people affected by drought and desertification, suffering from malnutrition, hunger and poverty : Sincere thanks !

Adapting to Climate Change in the Drylands (ICRISAT)

Read at : ICRISAT – Newsite

http://www.icrisat.org/newsite/newsroom/latest-news/climate-change/climate-change.htm

A ‘perfect storm’ is brewing

Several crises confront agriculture today, and their confluence, if unabated, will lead to a ‘perfect storm.’ Warming temperatures, droughts, floods, increasing land degradation, loss of biodiversity, rising food prices, zooming energy demand and population explosion are creating extreme challenges to feed the world.

The semi-arid or dry tropics cover 750 million hectares in 55 developing countries. This region is home to more than 2 billion people. Of these, 1.5 billion depend on agriculture for a living with 670 million comprising the poorest of the poor. In this region, short growing seasons alternate with very hot and dry periods; Rains are irregular, soil fertility is poor and crop pests abound.

Farmers in the dry tropics are therefore very vulnerable since they not only produce food under these very harsh conditions but also have to make a living out of farming.

Despite the high risks, rainfed agriculture is practiced on 80% of the world’s farm area, and generates almost 70% of the world’s staple foods. Every 1% increase in agricultural productivity translates to a decrease in the absolute poor by 6 to 8 million.

A warmer world will make the dry tropics even more vulnerable as, in addition to the environmental hardships, physical and social infrastructure are almost non-existent.

How ICRISAT and partners can help Continue reading “Adapting to Climate Change in the Drylands (ICRISAT)”

Combating Desertification : Cuttings of Navajo Globe Willow (Salix matsudana ‘Navajo’) – Willem VAN COTTHEM

Cuttings of Navajo Globe Willow (Salix matsudana ‘Navajo’)

As we are setting up tests with drought-resistant varieties of trees to be introduced in a refugee camp in the desert, we are looking for small cuttings (20-25 cm, 8-10 inches) of the Globe Navajo willow (Salix matsudana ‘Navajo’).  We would be very grateful to receive some cuttings from different origins to compare drought tolerance.

================
‘Navajo’ is a very hardy tree, adapted to high desert climates, round-headed upright and fast-growing, spreading, large, deciduous, long lived tree, medium-sized, 20’ to 70′ tall and wide.

The tree seems to be sheared into a perfect ball. Its branching habit results in a characteristic globe shape: a broad, rounded, perfectly symmetrical crown spread of mostly fifty feet. Young 15’ tall trees start showing the rounded crown.

Slender leaves are bright green, lance-shaped, 2″-4″ long, turning yellow in fall.

Unlike most willows, this variety is popular in high desert and drylands because it is drought tolerant, adaptable to a wide range of soil conditions

The name of the ‘Navajo’ variety of the Globe Willow is probably synonym with ‘Umbraculifera’.

The Navajo Globe Willow is related to the Corkscrew willow (Salix matsudana ‘Tortuosa’).  Cuttings of this Cortkscrew Willow would also be welcome.

===============

Please send some cuttings to:

Prof. Dr. Willem VAN COTTHEM
BEEWEG 36
B 9080 ZAFFELARE (Belgium)

Drylands, Deserts and Desertification (Google / DESIRE)

Read at : Google Alert – desertification

http://www.desire-project.eu/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=149&Itemid=2

3rd international conference on Drylands, Deserts and Desertification

Written by Erik van den Elsen

The 3rd international conference on Drylands, Deserts and Desertification will be held on November 8-11, 2010 at Sede Boqer campus of Ben Gurion University in Israel.

The conference is co-sponsored by UNESCO and will be attended by a diverse international audience working in fields involving deserts and desertification.

The conference is not a conventional academic gathering. It is interdisciplinary by design and is open to scientists, government and NGO leaders, international policy and aid workers, as well as farmers, foresters, pastoralists and of course the general, concerned public. The presentations consider applied solutions for sustainable and prosperous livelihoods in the drylands.

The thematic focus of the 3rd conference will consider the restoration of degraded drylands. This “positive” orientation embraces the notion that trend need not be destiny, and that most desertified lands, ecosystems and economies can at least rehabilitated.

The brochure, that can be downloaded from the conferences website, offers a description of the substantive orientation and objectives of this year’s conference. Please visit the web-site: www.desertification.bgu.ac.il to see about online registration and to consider the possibility of giving a lecture or presenting a poster.

Please note that a small number of participation and/or travel grants are available
, with a preference for speakers from developing countries who have not participated in previous conferences.

I hope you will consider joining us. If you have any questions about the conference, please don’t hesitate to contact the conference coordinator, Ms. Dorit Korine ( // <![CDATA[// <![CDATA[
var prefix = ‘ma’ + ‘il’ + ‘to’;
var path = ‘hr’ + ‘ef’ + ‘=’;
var addy84117 = ‘desertification’ + ‘@’;
addy84117 = addy84117 + ‘bgu’ + ‘.’ + ‘ac’ + ‘.’ + ‘il’;
var addy_text84117 = ‘desertification’ + ‘@’ + ‘bgu’ + ‘.’ + ‘ac’ + ‘.’ + ‘il’;
document.write( ‘‘ );
document.write( addy_text84117 );
document.write( ” );
//\n
// –>]]>
desertification@bgu.ac.il// <![CDATA[// This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it // <![CDATA[// <![CDATA[
document.write( ” );
// ]]>).

%d bloggers like this: