A visit to the community nurseries of Tundaua and Furaha with Mbarouk has brought us up to speed on the conditions of these two projects. Both community groups had difficulty raising seedlings much beyond germination early this season, likely due to over-shading in the banda-style nurseries. The light intensity has been corrected, a simple procedure when the roof is woven palm fronds, and with luck the fresh batch of seedlings will be strong enough to plant out when the rainy season arrives.
Tundaua has also been struggling with a low seedling survival rate in their planting site, due mostly to a harsh site and poor soil conditions. The community is determined to establish a community forest though and this year has collected Clove tree seeds, which will require two years in nursery before planting out. The commitment and motivation of this group in spite of the challenges and setbacks they are encountering is inspiring.
What we intend for Tundaua is to try direct seeding a range of indigenous Acacia species in the harsh site. Acacia trees are in the Leguminosae family and are in general adapted to poor soils. Their ability to fix nitrogen and build soil fertility makes them good companions for higher value timber trees. With luck the Acacia will act as the pioneers at the Tundaua site, preparing the way for Clove trees and others.