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A day with AWAKEN TREES and FONAR in West-Africa...

The mid-day sun is burning in the Upper East Region of Ghana. It is hot and dusty outside. Fortunately, the room for the 30 teachers and headmasters from Talensi district has an air conditioner. Today their situation is reversed. They are not teaching their students on different subjects. Today they are the ones who are getting taught - by the experienced trainer and FONAR-director Sumaila Seidu Saaka. And today’s subject is Farmer Managed Natural Regeneration (FMNR) - a simple and low-cost method to bring old tree stumps back to live. Yesterday they already gained lots of background knowledge about landscapes and ecosystems. Now it’s time for showing their skills on the art of FMNR. But first of all the comfortable and cool workshop room must be left behind: let’s go to the field to do the pruning!

To stimulate new growth the shoots of each tree stump has to be cut properly. The pruning tools are already sharpened and handed out by Awaken Trees founder Josef Ertl. Each participant gets a machete or a kitchen knife - tools that you‘ll find in every community. The area in front of them is full of living tree stumps - but it takes some time to identify them as they look similar to wild bushes. Now the time has come: They bravest participants start culling off most of the shoots - except some of the strongest ones. Then the next participants prune the remaining shoots half way up the trunk. „How many shoots should we cull off?“ „Have we already pruned too much?“ The teachers are discussing in a very passionate way. FMNR-expert Jonas Burge is helping them out with his advice.

Once they have figured it out, the participants prune one stump after another. Yes - restoring the environment can be a hugh pleasure for everybody. At the end of the workshop everybody is tired but happy. The teachers can’t wait to pass their newly learned knowledge on to their students. Even the District Director for Education shows up to thank everybody for their engagement. The participants drive home on their motorbikes - equipped with all necessary tools to reverse the cycle of land degradation - through bringing back natural air conditioners: trees!

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