Planting Trees VS. re-growing Trees

Kisiki Hai tree men

What is the difference?

When people talk about planting trees, they refer to planting new, young trees. These young trees ultimately grow into mature trees, providing lots of benefits for the environment and people living within the area.

In our projects we do not plant trees, but we re-grow trees and support new, naturally occurring sprouts to grow big. There used to be many trees within our project areas in Africa. Most of them have been cut down in the past to be used as firewood, timber, for charcoal production or to make room for agriculture. We teach the farmers in our projects a specific technique which helps them to bring back these felled trees and help naturally occurring sprouts to survive. This technique is called Farmer Managed Natural Regeneration (FMNR), or as we like to call it: Kisiki Hai, which means living stump in Swahili.

Woman practicing Kisiki Hai

How does it work?

What is left of the felled trees looks like dead stumps. However, the roots of these trees are often still alive, causing little shoots to grow from the stumps. As there are many, none of them gets enough energy to grow.

With the Kisiki Hai technique most of these shoots are pruned, keeping only two or three shoots getting enough energy to grow big. The Kisiki Hai technique also involves protection of the shoots, as they are a really tasty snack for livestock and wildlife. By pruning and protecting the shoots, they can grow into big trees again! The Kisiki Hai technique not only helps to re-grow felled trees, it also supports naturally sprouting trees to grow big by protecting them from grazing wildlife and livestock.



The 4 different steps of Kisiki Hai: (in Swahili)

Easy reminder: CHAPOA TU!

1. CHAgua: select the stumps you want to protect;

2. POgolea: select the best few shoots of the stump and cut all the others;

3. Alama: put a mark by tightening a colorful piece of fabric around the stems that you want to let grow;

4. TUnza: keep protecting the trees throughout the year!

Chapoa tu

The benefits of re-growing trees

Re-growing and protecting trees have several benefits over planting new trees:

  1. Re-grown trees and naturally occurring sprouts have a bigger chance of survival as they are native species and already adapted to the local climate; 
  2. The root system of the felled trees is already present and reaches deep into the soil, allowing them to reach the deep groundwater, additionally increasing their survival;   
  3. When re-growing trees, often diverse species are brought back. This leads to an increase in biodiversity. When planting new trees, often 1 tree type is used for a larger area. 

Whether planted, protected or re-grown, the presence of trees has lots of benefits: they retain water in the soil and their shade prevents water evaporation. This increased water availability leads to the regreening of the area, positively affecting climate change, nature, biodiversity and people.

The Rainmakers documentary


Want to learn more about this technique and the positive effect for the environment?

Who is Justdiggit?

Justdiggit is a non-profit organisation with the goal to restore degraded ecosystems by developing, initiating and co-funding large-scale landscape restoration programs within Africa. Our regreening projects help to restore the water balance in the soil and bring back vegetation, which has a positive effect on the local and regional climate, increases water and food security and promotes biodiversity within the project areas. Within our projects we work together with local partners and communities. The communities involved directly benefit from our programs as we create a better living environment and increase economic development. Our unique approach is a media and communication-based strategy, involving all available communication and media on a local, regional, national and international level. With these sponsored media campaigns, we aim to amplify the effect of landscape restoration programs, thereby creating a landscape restoration movement, promoting regreening throughout Sub-Saharan Africa.