Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Mangrove Reforestation 2012

Alright folks I gotta be honest.  I'm dead tired and writing this blog post is not quite what I want to be doing.  We're in the process of moving the Kaolack house so I've been working all day and basically just want to have a beer. I know if I don't write this now though it won't get done so the beer shall have to wait.  Okay here goes!

If you look back through my blog posts you'll see one about Mangroves from last year.  This is year three of our Mangrove Reforestation Project and year two of Robert, Jamie, and I organizing everything.  I gotta say it went splendidly.  A little back story.  I live in the Sin Saloum Delta, there are mangroves here, they are pretty.  But wait there's more.  Beyond just being pretty mangroves help to clean the water and air, prevent erosion, provide habitat, and contribute nutrients to the incredibly fertile waters off the cost of Senegal.  The Red Mangrove is very slow growing and is thus especially susceptible to deforestation.  Expansion of villages into the delta and increased populations in urban centers such as Kaolack, Fatick, and Foundgioune, have contributed heavily to the decline of mangroves in the region.  The great importance of these trees along with their rapid decline means that reforestation is now more important then ever.  Could you tell that much of that last paragraph came from my report I submitted to admin?  Like I said I'm in a rush. 

Like I said its a pretty place
The first year of this project volunteers reforested about 10,000 seedlings, and last year we increased to about 20,000.  You have to wait to hear this year's number (don't worry its impressive).  After last year's program we went out to the site and did some statistical sampling to determine survival rates, which told us two things.  One, don't plant mangroves too high up the beach, they will not survive.  Two, don't plant mangrove seedlings that have already sprouted, their roots will get damaged and they'll die.  These two things meant that our survival rates weren't particularly great, about 40%.  In the great scheme of things this is not bad at all but we knew we could do better.  With that knowledge we set out to make this year even more successful.  Peace Corps, we turn mistakes into learning opportunities!  No but seriously it was a necessary step.  

So this year we used google maps to find a better reforestation site that was more within the ideal tidal zone for mangroves and we had the village collect seedlings just before the reforestation so they would be nice and fresh and rootless. We also sent out an email to the entire country so 47
PCV's from everywhere came to help out.  On the 24th we all went out to Keur Bamboung, a really nice rustic campement out in the delta right next to our reforestation site.  We swam, kayaked, had an amazing dinner, drank a few boissons, and had a dance party with a giant sound system brought in from the mainland.  It is was amazing.  Check out their website

The first boat transporting volunteers to the campement
Having some fun the night before
In true Peace Corps fashion every single person was up first thing in the morning and ready to go to work.  We all walked to the reforestation site, about a kilometer away, and met the 25 volunteers from the village of Sippo and got things started.  In order to keep consistent spacing we drew lines.  In order to draw even lines we held hands and shuffled our feet through the mud.  It was lots of fun... until our feet started getting cut up by hidden shells.  After this we started planting... then we planted some more... and more and more and more until by the end of the day we reached our final number.  40,000 seedlings spread out over a distance of a kilometer and a half.  I do believe we can call this a successful day.  Granted success is relative but relative to anything I've done thus far I say WIN!  

Walking out to the reforestation site
Drawing our lines
One of the village leaders teaching the kids
A planted mangrove seed
The end result, rows and rows of seedlings
But wait it gets better.  The next day since we're awesome and have connections with some fancy folks who work at fancy game reserves we arranged a day for a bunch of us to go play with baby lions.  Yes real baby lions.  The lions came from South Africa and are only small enough to play with for a few more months.  Thus our timing was impeccable.  After we had our lion fill... lets not kid ourselves no one ever has their lion fill... once they told us to stop playing with the lions we went on a game drive through the rest of the reserve and saw giraffes, and zebras, water buffalo and hyenas.  The general consensus was awesome.   

Me with a lion cub... yeah amazing
So yeah I didn't end up waiting to finish this before the beer drinking started.  But hopefully that made it a more amusing reading experience for all of you folks.  Who may or may not exist... does anyone read my blog anymore?  I looked at the stats the other day and over the course of my service the graph looks a bit like our economy lately... are we on the same page about what that means?  Maybe it will pick up before I leave.  Insha Allah.  But I digress.  This event is always awesome but this year it was really truly amazing.  We did some good stuff guys.  Here's to many more reforestations to come. 



  1. Yes, people do in fact still read your blog. Great post and very informative/clear as always.

  2. Garrison you are by far the best work partner I could ask for, and this project could not have been successful without you. I consider myself lucky to have a site mate like you and truly appreciate everything. Thanks again for the hard work and guidance.

  3. Thanks for sharing it. It’s really nice. I think that we will get great information from your blog in future about it. Boat Transporting

  4. Hi, I might have seen some of the reboisement work you did as we drove the backroad from Sokone to Foundgioune this morning. Nice blog and makes me wish I was back in the PC again. THis time working in literacy for a couple months with a phenomenal Senegalese colleague.