Sustainche Farm™ Project: The Fire Wood Episode

Dear Sustainche Farm™ community,

In January 2012 we published these two episodes:Farm Trees Mopane 16_4

The Sustainche Farm™ Project: A walk around the farm, and
The Sustainche Farm™ Project: A walk around the farm house.

Can you recall how many trees you saw in all these pictures ?

Yes, there live at least 10 different species inside the farm house and on the farm, including smaller lemon bushes as well as larger marula and omuye trees. The huge variety of fruit and their utilization is one of the many cornerstones of Sustainche Farm’s™ sustainable development concept.

Owambo speciality 2However, what we haven’t mentioned yet is that one very precious tree is not only utilized for collecting tasty worms – you remember ? – but to provide fire wood for the Sustainche Farm™ family: Colophospermum mopane – most commonly called ‘mopane’.

In Northern Namibia mopane is found in its most south-western distribution in the Southern Africa subcontinent, here adapted to rather shallow and even salty soils. For example in Etosha National Park mopane may occur as a tree or a bush, the later being adapted to medium deep loamy to sandy Cambisol soils.

Today on and around Sustainche Farm™ we only find moMopane for firewoodpane in the form of trees. Although our tree savanna was much denser only one generation ago, the mopane trees are traditionally utilized very carefully in what is known as pollarding. Pollarding means that Owambo families never cut down an entire mopane tree in order to have fire wood. No, they rather decapitate the central branch of the tree to make many branches growing around the central trunk. Only these small branches were collected as fire wood. This is sustainable utilization in perfection !

Every child in Owambo is well aware of how precious mopane wood indeed is. There is no other plant species in Northern Northern that can make a hotter and longer lasting fire. This is the reason why mopane wood – even branches – are only used at special events, such as traditional weddings. For daily meals it is rather dry grass to make a nice fire. Meme T. is a true master of making a nice cooking fire in Sustainche Farm™ kitchen :-)

Sustainche Farm House KitchenWith increasing population pressure over past decades mopane trees became more and more rare. This is the reason why some farmers in the neighbourhood already fenced off their ‘mopane tree harvest gardens’. Since mopane is growing very slowly, any tree that is lost is a loss for one generation !

The Sustainche Farm™ family believes that it is urgent time of revitalizing the Owambo traditional culture of pollarding mopane trees. This is not only to safeguard our present-day’s mopane resources, but even to make reforestation projects spread all over Central Northern Namibia.

Suppose this would be nice project for … :-)

Warm regards,
Sustainche, Lisa and The Sustainche Farm™ family


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