The people in Kissidougou use their own methods to have young trees take root in the forests. But these methods may seem very destructive to the outsider.
Researching Reforesting Methods in Kissidougou Correspondent: Just 50 km southeast of Sandhya forest now covers entire village territories to save farmland from complete forest take over the fallows must be regularly cleared and burned. This southern region has lost almost all of its Savannah’s forest covers the land between forest islands. The inhabitants of Toli now experience shortages of the grasses that are suitable for thatching but no longer do they lack any firewood. Bisi Tolno: When we were born there weren’t any trees, no trees at all just Savannah grasses. When we went to the bush to prepare a field you wouldn’t find a tree. It wasn’t good. The rice didn’t yield well. When you harvested you might have got 5 loads. There was little hunger then. Real hunger but since these trees are grown their leaves fall and give compost to the soil. When you cultivate such an area now you harvest 20 or 30 loads. Correspondent: Because even an art and expertise to the way a field is burned for if carried out correctly it can greatly improve the soil. If it burns well the rice will be good. If the burn isn’t good the rice will not yield well. Tamba Wmaouno: Well burned fields with soft soil give much better yields than badly burnt land. Correspondent: Without knowing the history of – forest growth this could look like mindless vandalism and be easily misinterpreted or were still misrepresented. Local: The bush is really burned today. Local: There’s a lot of white ash really good. Look it’s really good. Correspondent: What looks like permanent devastation will take less than a decade to re-grow. Archives document well the use of forests as fortresses in 1893 the captain in charge of the French military campaign wrote all of that part of Kissidougou crossed by the columns is scattered with plumps of forests of a very vigorous vegetation made impenetrable by confusion of trees and in today’s creepers. Caecule Koundiano: If you climb to the top of some afar hill and look down over the land you’ll see the forest with many big trees. It is because of the wars in the olden days that it is forest. They planted those trees well. I will plant cotton trees here and cotton tree there, a cotton tree there where I planted the trees of mine to protect the path. Here is what is who knew how to shoot one would come and sit in a cotton tree there with his gun. Another would sit in the cotton tree there with his gun. They were in a line. The villages wouldn’t notice the moment they attach they would come and reach the forest. The waters in the first tree wouldn’t fire, the enemy had to come right in. Once 4 or 5 people have passed the cannon would speak before them. Ping that one falls this one over here, he falls. Those behind turned round and fled. Correspondent: But also revealed in the archives are the repeated mistakes of visitors who observe similar landscapes and jump to similar but wrong conclusions. In 1914 the colonial administrator wrote, never I believe has a year so dry occurred in Kissidougou from Kissidougou to Gekadou all has been cut. The effects of this dewooding are disastrous a region so fertile has become a complete desert. Now there is no more than a little belt of trees around each village and that is all. The same mistaken declarations of apparent degradation have been made by every visitor sits including scientific experts. Melissa: They’ve been so convinced that what they were looking at was Savannization and degradation but they haven’t found it necessary to look at historical sources. Archives have been ignored partly because they’ve been seen as the providence of historians of a different discipline that somehow not relevant to forest—. The aerial photographs from 1952 have similarly been ignored even though they’ve been sitting here right under the noses of people working with Kissidougou’s environment. Correspondent: The researcher’s discovery that villagers can create forests has major implications for development assistance. New forests don’t always need to come in plastic bags. Melissa: What our research shows is that they already exist at village level a whole range of indigenous vegetation management techniques which serve to increase forest cover in Savannah techniques which are far more appropriate and adapted to local ecology and to the realities of everyday life. Correspondent: This came as a shock to those working under development projects in the region as Millimouno the team discovered when they made their findings public. Dominique: Intellectuals at all levels for the politicians, administrators or development staff like ourselves— before our research the vegetation is only degrading. When we first presented our findings we were rejected. We weren’t well received some people even thought that we’re trying to discourage donors. The people supporting reforestation programs in the region. Correspondent: But people did begin to pay attention and attitudes slowly began to change. The misinterpretation of farming activities has gone on for so long that it is deeply entrenched throughout Guinea’s education system. Dominique: From high school to university they always taught us that the environment was being degraded. Correspondent: Visiting experts consistently make mistakes that conflict so acutely at what is really going on. Do deeply entrenched cultural differences influence the way outsiders view and judge the environment is a time for new definitions nature that respect the human contribution. Melissa: There are in fact studies Ghana in – in Nigeria, in parts of Sierra Leone which throw up in part some of the same findings that we have found here. They haven’t been put together in any systematic fashion as yet and we’re beginning to do that now but there are indications that some of the farming techniques and some of the aspects off vegetation change that have proved important in Kissidougou are in fact of equal importance elsewhere. Dominique: What people come to believe is a result of research come to the whole global theory as question. That is not the same that results obtained by program Cola question all the theories of degradation free atmosphere for nature but they do that in places there has not been destruction. The development projects without prior research above all the project began in the local setting without taking local knowledge into account is like building on sand and with a small gust of wind the building falls.