After a spring troubled by COVID-19, project preparations can finally begin in September!

Planting in La Rochelle ©kinomé

Boulogne-sur-Mer, August 2020

In September 2016, in the Nord (59) and Pas de Calais (62) regions, the French National Forestry Office (ONF) closed five forests to the public for the first time in its history, due to high levels of declining ash trees. Affected by a parasitic disease for which there is no efficient treatment, these trees may collapse on the many walkers in these forests. This disease, Ash Chalarose, is caused by a parasitic fungus that arrived less than 10 years ago from eastern Europe. It provokes the rapid decline of  ash trees and forestry management workers are powerless to act.

After completing safety work, the ONF planned to renew the affected plots with a patchwork of several species to introduce greater biodiversity to tree population.  The species are carefully selected to ensure the long-term future of these forests as far as possible.

The reforestation goal for the coming years is ambitious: on the forestland of Boulogne, Desvres, Hardelot, Nieppe and Vimy ash represents almost 40% – which means 2,000 hectares need to be replaced!

A Tree For You is actively involved in the reforestation of the Boulogne forest. It involves plot N°37 located in the Pas-de-Calais department, in La Capelle-lès-Boulogne.

Map showing plot N°37 in Boulogne state-owned forest © Kinome

Financing two hectares of this forest means 2,880 young trees can be planted, of which 2,304 lasting trees after the first thinning operation, divided between four species: oak (80%), beech (10%), cherrywood (7%) and linden (3%).

This project aims to select species adapted to the environment in question and resilient to climate change. The task of removing diseased wood and preparing the soil was carried out by two local companies and completed in September 2019. Planting, involving schoolchildren from four classes from a primary school close to the forest, was scheduled for February 2020. Due to the minimal presence of game in this area, a small number of deer barriers will be installed after planting.

The COVID-19 health crisis forced the field teams to postpone activities originally planned for late spring 2020 to the start of the 2020/2021 school year, i.e.:

  • Project presentation in classrooms: before the summer holidays, a first contact was made with the headmaster of La Capelle les Boulogne primary school. See you this September!
  • Visiting the plot and meeting of ONF forestry technicians: a phone meeting was organised to kickstart the project with the Seine/North Territorial Directorate.

Regarding the international solidarity aspect – twinning of French classes with a school in Togo, activities have started. The project was presented to the partner association in Togo: INADES Formation Togo, which has started prospecting for schools interested in twinning with the school in Boulogne-sur-Mer.

Schoolchildren clearing the plot © Kinome

At the same time, work to clear the plantation sites in Togo is underway. In June 2019, an operation mobilising around 100 schoolchildren was organised by the ONF to involve classes in clearing these plots. The children were also able to visit the existing nurseries.

Nursery grown seedlings in Togo © Kinome

Next steps: in September the Kinomé teams will present the project to teachers, then to schoolchildren. Groundwork using mechanical augers will be organised to prepare for planting, with the children, between November and December 2020. Each child will subsequently receive a personal planting certificate.

Written by Pascale LEPORTIER


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