Baobab Guardians Project

Planting baobab seedlings in villages

The Baobab Guardians project started in 2014 and works with local people in villages to plant and grow baobab seedlings until they are tall enough to be safe from domestic animal browsing. Goats in rural landscapes are particularly damaging to baobab seedlings and without providing daily protection to the seedlings they do not survive. The Baobab Guardians project has successfully planted 101 baobab trees in rural villages to date.

The Baobab Guardians live in rural villages in which baobab trees grow. The Gaurdians are given training in how to grow and nurture young baobab trees. Baobab seedlings are grown in home gardens until the trees are strong enough to survive being planted out. Trees are planted around homesteads and villages in locations chosen by the Baobab Guardians themselves. The location of each planted tree is recorded on GPS so that the trees can be monitored. To ensure they survive during their most vulnerable period, each tree is looked after by its Guardian until it reaches 3 meters in height. At this height it will be safe from browsing and can survive on its own. The condition, height and diameter of each tree is recorded annually by the Guardians under the direction of Dr. Sarah Venter.

How does the Baobab Foundation support the guardians?

Support is given to the Baobab Guardians during the full length of the project period. This is done through training, mentoring and progress payments. The training curriculum focuses on the conservation and ecology of baobabs in a broad sense and then practical methods of germinating, growing and planting trees.

The training, support and mentoring of the Guardians is done by Dr. Sarah Venter together with Venda-speaking experts in forestry and nursery practice. The Guardians are given progress payments to encourage them to protect the trees from damage and to keep the trees constantly watered. Once a Guardian’s tree has reached its target 3-meter height, the Guardian will receive a beautiful framed certificate. It is expected that the certificate will be displayed on the wall or mantle-piece and thus encourage the Guardian to share their story with their friends, family and visitors. In this way helping to inspire a culture of caring and encouraging other people to plant baobab trees as well.

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