The Ghana Permaculture Nwodua Tree Nursery Project – Saving Lives, Granting Livelihoods, and Restoring Eco-systems
The Ghana Permaculture Nwodua Tree Nursery was created in 2007, as a means of community income and to fight desertification, erosion, and diversion of water flow by roads, through reforestation. A collaborative effort of youth, women, and men founded the community nursery, and all members of the community reap the success of the profit as well as the natural environment benefits of tree planting. The nursery started as a small production and soon blossomed into something larger, achieving the current production of over 96,000 seedlings per year.
Nursery activities include planting seedlings, nursing seedlings, holding informative meetings about the importance of trees with outlying communities, and Ghana Permaculture NGO organization for the capacity building of environmental awareness.
The main social and environmental issues and challenges addressed by the tree nursery are education — for awareness of the environmental importance of tree planting, targeted at citizens of Ghana; specifically those that reside in villages and rural areas. Many individuals in outlying communities are unaware of the long term health benefits tree planting can provide for their farming practices and are unaware of how to effectively nurse a seedling into full development.
In combative efforts against public ignorance and general unawareness of the importance of tree planting to avoid environmental hazards, the community of Nwodua is thus targeting uninformed citizens residing in villages and rural communities of Ghana with educational campaigns and informational sessions.
The Ghana Permaculture Nwodua Tree Nursery has greatly improved the socio-economic conditions of the community and surrounding area in multiple ways. First, and foremost, Nwodua has educated themselves in the importance of planning ahead for environmental issues such as erosion, intercropping with trees, and water control. Nwodua has recognized the value and sustainability for nursing and planting trees. The community also sets out to educate other communities about the environmental importance of trees.
The tree nursery teaches community and surrounding community members the importance of growing and planting the trees to utilize the benefits of erosion control, nitrogen fixing, and absorption of water run-off from roads.
Profits from additional tree sales contracted by the Ghana government Forestry Department are directly utilized for community development projects and the financial aid of hospital visits for those in the community. Community members choosing to volunteer at the tree nursery are either directly paid or provided with assistance when requiring shots or pregnancy tests.
The Ghana Permaculture Nwodua Tree Nursery has provided education for the importance of food security by teaching the importance of planting mango trees and moringa trees for food security. Moringa trees produce seeds that have 20 grams of protein in ¼ c.
Additionally, the nursery has provided policy change at the district level. A collaboration of surrounding villages has formed a union to protest against unfair wages for small scale nurseries provided by the Ghana Forestry Department. Policy change was also created at the local level due to Nwodua Tree Nursery’s activism at the ground level. Specifically, in 2010, a contract for the sale of over 10,000 teak seedlings was breached by the regional Forestry Department by unfair payment. Only half of the payment was met after more than six months of actively seeking it. Nwodua Tree Nursery unionized eight surrounding tree nurseries to boycott contracts with the Forestry Department until payment was met. The boycott was successful in receiving payment and continuing more healthy future contracts; benefiting all members of contract.
The nursery has contributed to sustainable natural resource management and environmental conservation by advocating the importance of tree nursing and planting; targeting individuals who are unaware of the countless benefits of trees.
Ghana Permaculture Nwodua provides trees to farmers who need nitrogen fixing in their farms, since the community of Nwodua resides in the Northern Region of Ghana, where the climate is desert and the soil is clay. According to a 2010 census, 99 percent of occupations in Nwodua and surrounding communities self-classify as farmers. Nitrogen fixing through tree planting is essential for crops and soil regeneration.
Four schools reside in Nwodua community with a road that has excess water flow in the rainy season. Planting of trees parallel to the road have eased road conditions and have made transportation access more available to students attending school from surrounding communities.
Proper nutrition for children is of concern during seven months of the year in the dry season. Trees grown from Nwodua Tree Nursery have benefited the nutritional supplements for children and pregnant mothers. Specifically, the moringa tree produces a seed that can be used as a protein supplement. Mothers of Nwodua planted more than fifty donated trees around the community in 2008 which are now being used for nutrition. The mango tree has also been nursed in the Nwodua Community Nursery and planted around the community, benefiting all community members with a source of vitamin C.
Ghana Permaculture Nwodua community farmers have noted environmental changes in the rain patterns due to global warming. The Nwodua Community Tree Nursery has taken note of the climate changes and created a separate nursery approximately one mile away from the original location in order to have access to piped water.
The tree nursery has improved the community’s ability to adapt and respond to environmental, social and economic change by witnessing individuals originally involved in the participation of the nursery, and viewing their gains and benefits. The demonstration of clear gains through tree planting has created a snowball effect of surrounding communities’ enthusiasm for tree planting; creating over 50 new tree nurseries.
Ghana Permaculture Nwodua Tree Nursery is a completely operational sustainable project. The tree nursery produces on average 96,000 seedlings yearly. Anyone in the community who would like a tree to plant who has participated in volunteering at the nursery is provided with as many trees as they would like, free of charge. The profits of the additional trees sold through contracts to various organizations such of that of the Forestry Department of Ghana that negotiates a yearly contract with Nwodua Tree Nursery provide additional funding for future expansion of the tree nursery, income for future seed and materials for planting.
The nursery recently expanded its productions in 2010, utilizing easier access to water piping, and more fertile soil. The nursery manager varies tree species each year depending on market demand and market research preformed the previous year. The manager also keeps track of every tree planted and sold in a profit log he has tediously kept for nineteen years. In addition, yearly profits are placed in a bank account accruing interest for community development projects.
The continuous demand for trees has allowed the tree nursery to thrive. The trees combat desertification and aid in development such as erosion control. Given their successes the Nwodua Tree Nursery will continue to thrive and sustain.
The nursery has facilitated the empowerment of women by educating them in areas of proper nutrition and by aiding in the funding of women’s visits to the hospital while pregnant and the immunization of their children. Specifically, the aid to more than 300 women in the community of Nwodua has been funded by the Nwodua Tree Nursery. The birth rate and the survival rate of infants have greatly increased in the community of Nwodua from 1 death in every household in 1992 to 1 death in the community of over 700 people in 2010.
Ghana Permaculture Nwodua Tree Nursery has created an informational education group consisting of both men and women to effectively teach environmental conservation and the benefits of tree planting and proper nutrition to members of Nwodua community and hundreds of communities in the Northern Region of Ghana, West Africa. Women have been able to attend school with the profits of Nwodua tree nursery, and have been empowered through education and teaching environmental education.
The nursery has planted hundreds of trees in the community that women now use for firewood for cooking. Deforestation in Ghana is causing women to walk farther and farther from their homes in search of firewood. Through planting trees in the community annually, women are able to remain in the community to collect firewood, saving time in their already strenuous day.
Ghana Permaculture Nwodua Tree Nursery has facilitated the involvement of indigenous and economically marginalized segments in the Northern Region of Ghana by providing community members livelihoods that provide income through tree planting; facilitating in the funding of education of the community. Over nineteen years, the tree nursery has sponsored 689 individuals’ school fees, built four schools in the community, two grinding mills for women, and is in the process of building a computer lab.
Ghana Permaculture Nwodua Tree Nursery promotes community empowerment by providing economically sustainable and environmentally sustainable livelihood for community members. Citizens are able to benefit from the profits and are more willing to become active in the tree nursery after witnessing its direct benefits of increased crop production from tree planting, increased nutrition benefits from tree species, more sustainable road transportation, and community development buildings.
Ghana Permaculture Nwodua Tree Nursery has assembled an education group for environmental issues that actively advocates the importance of sustainability, tree planting, and benefits of trees. Typically, the group travels to outlying villages as far as 200 miles in radius, sometimes on week-long excursions to facilitate rural community trainings. Environmental education is successful and often results in the newly educated community also starting a tree nursery. The group is effective because they are able to communicate in the local language of Dogbani and students are able to relate to and trust the educators based on sharing the same socioeconomic status and culture.
The Nursery also collaborates with the community’s four schools: nursery, primary, jss, and vocational to educate, through technical training, on the importance of tree planting. The nursery donates annually to the schools so students are able to assist in the planting, watering, and fencing of the trees and feel a sense of pride through the thriving of tree growth. Species of trees donated range from teak, mahogany, acacia, moringa, and mango.
The entirety of individuals affected by the educational component of Nwodua Tree Nursery is immeasurable. However, Nwodua Tree Nursery has taught in over 300 communities; aiding the creation of over 50 new tree nurseries.
Nwodua Tree Nursery has sponsored over 680 individuals medical bills for doctor visits. Nwodua Tree Nursery has sponsored the fees of all immunizations of children in the community. Nwodua has sponsored over 700 individuals with school fees. Nwodua Tree Nursery is actively involved in community development, building four schools, and the start of a computer lab. It has also contributed to two working mills in the community that allow women access to grinding corn without having to walk many kilometers to a neighboring community. Nwodua Tree Nursery has sponsored payment of lights and water bills in the community. It has also donated thousands of trees to local schools, individuals, and families who are in need of erosion control, nitrogen fixing, or nutritional supplements.