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Planting Seeds of Change in Nairobi, Kenya

Lane A
by Lane Atteridge

January 24, 2019

In Nairobi, Kenya, deforestation has run rampant across the beautiful landscape. Trees have been cleared in droves for firewood and lumber at an unsustainable rate. What might seem like a single issue, a massive loss of trees rapidly causes a domino effect across the ecosystem. The harmony of the natural world is suddenly disrupted. Animals no longer have shelter, and flee the area. Mudslides and windstorms shift the landscape, due to tree roots no longer preventing erosion. Trees are an anchor point for this fragile ecosystem, and their sudden disappearance throws everything out of balance.

Seeds of change

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To counter-act this, people in Nairobi have developed “seed balls,” literally golf ball sized spheres of seeds and fertilizer. They scatter them from airplanes over large patches of deforested land, but also hand them out to travelers coming into Kenya. These are bio-char seed balls, which means the seed balls themselves are a recycled product. Kenya’s most popular home heating source is charcoal, and the dust that is left behind after burning it is rich in nutrients. This charcoal is gathered up and packed together with seeds and other fertilizers. The finished product is a seed ball, ready to grow into a tree.

Practice your throw

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These seed balls are so robust, and so cost-effective to make, that the people of Nairobi want travelers to scatter them everywhere. This is a monumental effort taken in tiny steps by thousands of people, replanting forests one seed at a time. On a Kenya wildlife safari, you’ll most likely come across one of these seed balls. You’ll be encouraged to toss it out somewhere, and help with the re-foresting efforts of this incredible country.

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