A great national movement to plant 25 million acorns in Spain
The destruction of the trees
There are many places worldwide where trees are being destroyed. We have seen the catastrophic loss of forests with the huge fires in the Amazon or more recently the awful fires in Australia. Additionally, trees are being logged so the wood can be used for building, furniture, paper, and for home heating. Lots of trees have to give way when cities expand and build more apartment blocks.
With the cutting of the natural forests, fauna and flora suffer. Suddenly, when the trees are gone, their habitat is destroyed. With the loss of their food and water sources and protective hiding places, species are disappearing and some go extinct because of this. Plant and animal species might disappear even before being discovered.
Trees make oxygen which we need to survive so one wonders what will happen when the trees disappear, what will be our fate?
The list of the Botanical Gardens Conservation International
To think that worldwide there are 60,065 species of trees, this is a mind-boggling number. There are no trees in the polar regions, it is just too cold. Brazil is the nation that is number one on the list of areas having the most tree species, and is home to 8,715 varieties. The region of North America, close to the Arctic, has the fewest number, only 1400 species.
The Botanical Gardens Conservation International (BGCI) was able to compile this list with the data gathered by 500 member organizations. Unusual things were discovered because of this data. In a remote part of Tanzania, grow the Karomia gigas trees. A team of scientists discovered a single population of only 6 trees, it was nearly extinct.
In 2016, when this was discovered, the local people were asked to take care of those few trees, and notify the BGCI when seeds were ripe. With the villager’s help, the seeds can grow into trees in the botanical gardens which exist in Tanzania, to then later be planted into the wild again.
A planting movement in Spain
I am always happy when I come across positive news. I read something the other day in my local newspaper.
Thousands of volunteers across the country are collecting acorns to be planted wherever trees are needed. 25 million acorn seeds will be planted to hopefully produce at least 2.5 million oak trees. The aim of the Gran Bellotada Iberica is to do something against desertification and against climate change on the whole.
This non-government organization started only a few weeks ago in Extremadura and can already count on 1430 groups of volunteers, which gave heed to the call of doing something positive, like planting seeds. These people are trained on how to collect seeds from different oak types to then, in collaboration with town hall authorities, conservation organizations, and environmental management organizations, sow these seeds in areas with a lack of trees or where the earth is degraded.
The sturdy acorn seed
The acorn seed is very special. It is really a large seed and therefore, can hold a lot of energy. It is capable of producing roots of a meter long in only the first year after being sown. That helps them to survive in the often harsh conditions of the Mediterranean climate. The year 2019 has been cataloged as the hottest year worldwide. Just as in the rest of the world, Spain has noticed a rise in temperature and there is also a lack of rain.
Acorns are an important food source for many animals, and even humans, in times of need. The years after the Spanish Civil war were very difficult. Those were the times when people, for lack of something else, would make flour from acorns to be able to bake bread and other products. Even nowadays people still make edible things from an acorn.
Domestic animals like pigs that roam Extremadura and Andalucia feed on acorns and that imparts a special taste to their meat. Iberian ham is known worldwide. These dark-colored pigs have black hooves and that gives this ham the name “Pata Negra”. They can eat up to ten kilos of acorns a day.
In the wild, you have the squirrels, jays, and boars, which also love to eat this seed. That is one of the reasons why this tree is so important for the environment.
This movement is sowing awareness about deforestation and started because of a fire in 2015. It burned 8600 hectares in Sierra de Gata. The locals were really upset after seeing all the burned mountains and decided to make it green again. They joined the Reforest Accion association which nowadays has already 1000 volunteers of 41 nationalities.
A big planting action was started in the ash-covered lands and 700,000 acorns were planted. 3 years later their effort was rewarded and more than 1000 trees are thriving. It is amazing that a seed can develop into a tree, especially when you consider the frequent droughts which happen often in the Mediterranean climate.
In September of 2019, they put their challenge on social media. Anybody can join, be it a single person or a small group. You only need to download their Guia Belotera, which is a guide to planting acorns, and just follow the easy instructions. You are requested to fill in a form to document where and how many you have sown. This helps to produce a living database on this project.
The response has been fantastic and 250 actions were registered all over the country. It is projected that between 10% to 20% of the planted seeds will develop into a tree. One has to take care though, that the seeds you collect, either from the tree or those that have fallen onto the ground, are good ones. The seed has to be hard and shiny. You can test them by putting them into water. Do not use the ones that float.
Where should one plant
The ideal place to plant would be in the shade of a shrub and the hole should be medium deep. Too close to the surface and animals will notice and dig them out. You have to place the seed in a horizontal position and cover with soil with some leaves or bark.
Burned areas, embankments or waste ground are the places where one should plant. Jays and squirrels also plant acorns, so we are just imitating nature. One has to take care to only use seeds from local native species. Another thing one has to know is if the land is public or private and ask for permission if needed.
Check with your local town hall to be sure that no building projects are proposed for the area you have chosen. Inform the local environmental organization that perhaps they will want to join you.
The more people hear about it the better. Families with children have joined this movement to show the young ones how to care for the environment. Some people opt for having the seeds sprout at home and when they have turned into small trees plant them out. Certain areas are so dry that these young trees require water on a regular basis so they can grow into mighty oak trees.
Oak trees can live for a very long time. Please, have a look at this YouTube video of the 1000-year-old trees.
Some big projects worldwide
Mother Earth needs trees and when we harvest trees for whatever reason, we should at least plant new ones to replace it. In the past, various big-scale actions were started by India and Pakistan.
China and its project Green Great Wall show that it is possible to make a change. This ambitious program was started in 1978 and hopes to be completed by 2050. On completion, it will be 4500 km long (2800 mi) long. It is similar to the anti-desertification effort made in Saharan Africa. This is an effort to plant a broad greenbelt, from coast to coast.
From the beginning of the China project, some 66 billion trees have been planted, but not all have survived. At the beginning of 2018, China used 60,000 soldiers for a planting project. The area, roughly the size of Ireland, should be full of trees by the end of the year
This is an initiative to combat the Gobi Desert, which advances every year taking 1400 sq mi of grassland. Dust storms from the desert take topsoil away too, so planting trees will inhibit, reduce, and maybe prevent all this. Even if there are big problems, like very limited water levels or massive plant failure rates, at least the effort is made. This is something not all countries can boast of.
Ethiopia planted 353 million trees in 12 hours in July 2019. Planting more trees will have a positive influence on climate change.
Everybody should at least plant 1 tree in their lifetime. At the birth of each child, a tree should be planted in the garden if possible. Over the many years I have lived on my farm, I planted a great variety of trees. They have grown big and beautiful and I am allowed to enjoy the shade they give in the hot summer.
Source: Sur in English, 3rd to 9th, 2020, article by Ines Gallestegui
Photo Source: Pixabay
You might care to read the following post. This is exactly the opposite of what the world needs to survive. It is very upsetting to see a nation that shows so little respect for creation.