OSU alums plant trees in Ethiopia

Ramona Arechiga (OSU's first PCMI graduate student) stands with Zegaye Kibrit, of the Ethiopian Wolf Conservation Program, before providing the community volunteers with an overview of proper planting techniques.

Oregon State alumni made their mark on the other side of the world May 20 when they helped plant 1,100 native trees in a newly created park in Goba, Ethiopia. Ramona Arechiga, a Peace Corps Master’s International environment volunteer, and fellow Beaver alum, Jonathan Schmierer worked alongside 350 community members to plant the trees. The event was part of Oregon State University Alumni Association’s Community Service Day.

The Bale Mountains Community Tree planting was the first international event funded by OSU AA. With the help the Alumni Association, organizers were able to purchase tree seedlings, posters and banners. The posters and banners will be used for future community tree planting events.

Goba borders Bale Mountains National Park, which is the headwaters for two important regional basins, the Wabe Shebelle and the Juba. These two basins serve approximately 12 million users downstream reaching as far as Somalia. The tree planting is intended to restore green space along the Tagona River in an area previously dominated by eucalyptus.

The main goal of this event was to teach the Goba municipality how to implement more successful community tree planting events. There are usually plenty of volunteers, but tree survival is an issue. A community tree planting held a year ago suffered from less than 50% survivorship of seedlings. Arechiga introduced a new method of community tree plantings where community members were trained ahead of the event. These tree leaders then trained smaller groups of community volunteers on how to properly plant seedlings during the event. Many tree planting efforts throughout Ethiopia have suffered low survivorship numbers and this is one way to improve those numbers while still offering an important role to the community to actively restore and enhance their own community’s resources.

Jonathan Schmierer, OSU Alumni and fellow Peace Corps volunteer, with local children who helped both during the planting and site clean up, collecting the plastic poly-pots that the seedlings came in.

Additional benefits will be seen in the future as the newly added native trees shade the river and slow heavy rainwater flows, reducing erosion issues. These trees will also provide additional habitat, including bee-friendly flora. Additional donations were made by Oregon residents, OSU community members and in-kind donations were made by Shwood Sunglasses, Bale Beauty Nature Club, Goba Municipality, and more than 350 community members.

 

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