Community conservation club sows seeds of change

CERCOPAN senior staff Mike and Obio at the Iko Esai Tree NurseryIn 2012, CERCOPAN constructed a tree nursery at the secondary school of Iko Esai. The students were trained to raise seedlings from the over 3,000 seeds collected in the community forest by CERCOPAN´s research assistants. Then, over the course of several days, community members united to plant out the seedlings in previously degraded areas. While some seedlings were planted at a distance from the village near the forest edge, a local water basin that had been negatively affected by historical logging activities was the primary target for the restoration work.

This month, our community team, led by Mike Ekpe and students of the Iko Esai Conservation Club, set out to prepare the tree nursery for the 2013 growing and planting cycle. Several

Community tree planting activities in Iko Esai beds had been severely damaged by the storms in the rainy season and these where either repaired or rebuilt from scratch. Roofs were also erected over every bed to provide shade, mimicking rainforest conditions. Several hundred seeds collected by the research assistants have been planted so far, and activities are ongoing. Mike provided a refresher course in seedling cultivation, giving the children the skills and knowledge needed to ensure a high percentage of the seeds germinate to produce healthy seedlings for community planting days planned later in the year. The Cross River State Forestry Commission was made aware of the progress in the tree nursery of Iko Esai, for which the community last year received a Loyalty Payment for Conservation Activities.

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