KIT ECOLOGIQUE et DURABLE —– Replacing plastic nursery bags with biodegradable alternatives.
Tree planting and other plant nursery projects typically use seedling bags made from black plastic. The bags are normally used just once because they need to be cut or torn to remove the seedlings before planting. Tree planting initiatives result in piles of shredded black plastic bags which are frequently abandoned as waste causing all the problems that are currently so much publicised : blocking waterways, encouraging mosquitos, endangering animals and birds and much more.
During their February workshop at the S.T. Muna Foundation in Yaounde UNAFAS CVP and their PACE team in Cameroon launched a new kit – KIT Pépinière écologique et durable.
The kit contains :
- samples of biodegradable plant pots (coir and rattan),
- tree planting action sheet,
- research comparing the merits of biodegradable and plastic seedling ‘pots’.
The pots in our kit are made from coconut husk (below left) and rattan (below right). These materials and techniques were selected to inspire users to come up with equivalents that can be easily produced using low cost locally available materials.
Research carried out by ICRAF and partners in East Africa has shown that tree seedlings nursed in plastic tend to grow better in the nursery than those nursed in biodegradable pots. However, those nursed in biodegradable pots develop much better, they establish faster once planted out. Seedlings need to be removed from plastic pots before planting resulting in transplant shock that retards development. Roots simply grow through a biodegradable pot, so the plant and pot are planted out together – less work, less waste and as the pot rots in the ground it provides valuable drainage for the young growing plant.
Producing biodegradable plant pots locally. Our teachers and schools have already started innovating. In West Region of Cameroon they have used the stem of plantain and banana (below right), and in South West Region they are using coconut and palm fibres (below left) to make their pots. They are hoping to supply local plant nurseries, to benefit from a business opportunity as well as sustainabilty education and practical projects for schools and communities.
The first seedlings are growing and we are looking forward to learning how well they develop and establish.