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Commercial trees Melia volkensii and Acacia senegal
commercial trees melia volkensii acacia senegal

Drought resistant trees planted by Better Globe Forestry Ltd in Kenya’s drylands for environmental and social impacts

Better Globe Forestry Ltd in Kenya plant a variety of tree species, mainly drought resistant trees. In this article we focus on the two tree species that are of commercial interest to the +37.000 tree customers around the world who buy trees and Donation Packages from the Norwegian company Better Globe AS.

The trees mainly responsible for generating an economic return to customers through sustainable agroforestry is Melia volkensii, also known as Mukau and a type of African mahogany, and Acacia senegal, also known as the Gum arabic tree.

Other notable tree species are the Neem tree (Azadirachta indica) and Mango trees, mostly of the African Apple mango variety. At the training farm in Kibwezi, Kenya, known as Mukuyu Farm, Better Globe Forestry also grow drought resistant species of fodder plants for livestock and a variety of other plants and trees.

When we visited the farm 2011 I even remember seeing a Marula tree and the beekeeping activities we saw continue to this day. At the farm they also produce bio-pesticides from the Neem tree and present farmers with a wide range of solutions including compost making that the farmers can implement to increase their yield from the dry land.

Better Globe Forestry donate trees to farmers, and customers who buy the Better Globe Donation Package support that and also contribute with water and microfinance included in the donation. Donated trees mainly consist of Mukau, but can vary depending on needs and availability. Part of Green Initiative Challenge with Kengen Foundation and Bamburi Cement Ltd, fruit and nut trees are also donated to schools in select dryland districts in Kenya.

Read on for the technical information provided by Better Globe on the two main tree species of commercial interest to customers around the world. We have also added a bit of health information to the description of the use of the Gum arabic tree as a healthy curiosity.

Melia Volkensii (mukau) - African mahogany

Description

Family: Meliaceae (a tropical family).

Growth form: A medium-sized tree, up to 20 meters tall, with a straight trunk.

Identification highlight: Its light green foliage.

Flowers: White panicles.

Leaves: Composite petals

Mukau trees and seedlings at Better Globe Forestry’s plantation in Kiambere, Kenya.

Mukau trees and seedlings at Better Globe Forestry’s plantation in Kiambere, Kenya. In addition to 1 million trees being planted between 2005 and early 2017 another 600.000 seedlings are ready for the rainy season and 400.000 will added to that before the year is over. Photo courtesy of Better Globe Media.

Ecology

Origin: Indigenous to East-Africa (Kenya, Tanzania, Somalia, Ethiopia).

Climate: Hot and dry areas.

Soil: Mostly light and medium soils.

Root system: Deep tap root and far-reaching lateral roots for obtaining soil moisture and nutrients.

Altitude: Sea level from 400-1,650 meters.

Lifespan: 15-20 years commercial, 30-40 years biological.

Special-treatment: Needs intensive pruning in its first years.

Products, yields, uses and value

Product: High-quality mahogany timber, can be used in open air.

Use: Furniture, parquet, doors, window frames, boat furnishing etc.

Yield: A 20-year old tree contains about ⅓ m3 timber (12 ft3).

Price (2017) - Kiln dried timber: FOB 1.000 euro/m3 (28 Euros/ft3) FOB - Free On Board.

Market prospects: Sustainably grown tropical hardwoods have excellent market prospects as timber supply from rainforests will decrease due to overexploitation, political pressure (global warming) and increasing remoteness.

- Find more details about the market prospects for sustainable Melia volkensii as a tropical hardwood timber: https://www.better-globe-trees.com/tree-investment-risks.php#decreasing-demand-price

Acacia Senegal - Gum Arabic Tree

Description

Family: Mimosoideae (legumes, Nitrogen fixing).

Growth form: Small tree, usually not taller than 10 meters.

Identification highlight: Spines, growing three and three, where the outer two point upwards and the middle one points downwards.

Flowers: Cream colored spikes.

Leaves: Fine acacia style petals.

Gum from one of the Acacia Senegal trees at Better Globe Forestry’s plantation in Kiambere, Kenya

Gum from one of the Acacia Senegal trees at Better Globe Forestry’s plantation in Kiambere, Kenya
See the plantation on Google Maps

Ecology

Origin: Indigenous to sub-saharan Africa, and the Arabian and Indian peninsulas.

Climate: Hot and dry areas.

Soil: Mostly rocky hills or dry sandy soils. Some varieties prefer heavy clay soils.

Root system: Deep tap root and far-reaching lateral roots for obtaining soil moisture and nutrients.

Altitude: Sea level from 0 to 1,900 meters (0 to 6,234 feet).

Lifespan: 25-30 years.

Products, yields, uses and value

Product: Gum Arabic.

Use: Widely used in the food, printing and pharmaceutical industry, as an emulsifier (soft drinks), stabilizer (foam in beers, dairy products, carrier for encapsulation). As a prebiotic supplement Acacia fibre is extracted from the sap of the tree and rich in soluble fibre. Soluble acacia fibre is thought to improve gut health by improving the composition of the gut microbiota in addition to providing other potential health benefits like lowering cholesterol and aid in the treatment of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).

Yield: The first yield is expected around year 5. 0,5-3 kilos gum per tree/year (reaching a peak between year 7-12).

Price (2017) - Non-processed gum (cleaned, graded, kibbled): 2-4 Euros/kilo for premium quality from Sudan, best quoted on international markets.

Processed gum (spray-dried): 3-6 Euros/kilo (1.3-2.7 Euros/pound).

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Learn more about Melia volkensii from World Agroforestry Centre

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