Each rainy season, CREATE! field technicians work with cooperative members to plant thousands of trees in the communities where CREATE! works through our annual tree planting campaign in Senegal. These trees help mitigate the impact of climate change in numerous ways. For example, even small clumps of trees can help moderate extreme temperatures. According to the Arbor Day Foundation, well-shaded areas can be 6-10 degrees Fahrenheit cooler than unshaded areas.
Trees also provide natural windbreaks that prevent erosion. Senegal’s dry season is typically December to April and includes the Harmattan, a dry, dusty, northeasterly trade wind that blows from the Sahara desert across West Africa. Without trees to block the wind, the Harmattan can cause crop damage and prevent rainfall formation.
During the dry season, community members began raising between 2000-3000 seedlings in sacks in each community and caring for them in nurseries. The seedlings are then planted during the rainy season, which typically arrives between June and October. The types of trees planted include papaya, flame trees, lemon trees, almond trees, acacia, mango, and beechwood. As the trees mature, many produce nuts and fruit that will be harvested for food.
Another CREATE! initiative, improved cookstoves, also has an impact on trees in CREATE! communities. The improved cookstoves are more efficient and require up to 50% – 70% less firewood for cooking. Less demand for firewood means that more trees remain standing in communities to serve other purposes.
Members of CREATE! communities have begun transplanting seedlings during this year’s planting campaign. Seni Fall, 18 years old of Thienaba, thanks the annual CREATE! tree planting campaign in Senegal and the improved cookstove for helping to “stop chopping down trees and creating deforestation.” She continues: “CREATE! helps communities to develop themselves; I wish for the success of CREATE! around Senegal!”