Our mother company, Better Globe Forestry Ltd. (BGF), plants indigenous trees very well adapted to arid and semi-arid lands (ASAL). Our projects are situated in Kenya, but we have plans to extend the operations to neighbouring East African countries. BGF has planted approximately 500,000 trees in the years 2007-2014.
Melia volkensii (Mukau) is an East African indigenous tree species in the plant family Meliaceae (Mahogany). Mukau grows naturally in dry bush land or dry wooded grasslands in Ethiopia, Somalia, Tanzania and Kenya, in association with Acacia-Commiphora vegetation. The tree is a deciduous tree and stands out with a height of 15 meters, rounded crown and branches hanging low. It has grey and fairly smooth bark. It is fast-growing, with trees reaching 3 meters in height after barely one and a half years, and produces high quality mahogany timber. Moreover, Mukau is resistant to termites and drought. BGF's trials have shown that it can be planted year-round, provided it receives adequate care and irrigation.
The timber is pale reddish-brown resembling mahogany and is highly valued locally for a variety of uses. It is suitable for furniture/joinery and interior paneling. Mukau has been heavily exploited over the last decade owing to shortage of alternative hardwood species. Kenya Forestry Research Institute (KEFRI) has been at the forefront in developing propagation, establishment and management techniques for Mukau since the 1990s. Through on-station and on-farm research, several techniques of establishing and managing the tree have been realized.
To ensure our Mahogany trees keep the standards and quality as demanded by the market, we have conducted testing with KEFRI to measure the quality of our Mukau trees with other hardwood trees in the market.
|Characteristics||Mukau||African Mahogany||American Mahogany||Teak|
|Density (kg/m3)||630||497-577||561 (plantation), 700 (natural)||641|
|Hardness (kN)||6.5 (dry)||3.7||3.1 (green), 3.6 (dry)||3.7 - 4.8|
|Bending strengths - Modules of Repture (MPa)||85 (dry)||51 (green), 78 (dry)||54 (green), 80 (dry)||70 (green), 101 (dry)|
As seen in the table above, Mukau is lighter in weight than natural American Mahogany and Teak wood, but much harder than both species. The bending strength of Mukau is better than both species of Mahogany and green Teak, which makes it good for furniture.
For the interest of our customers, a thinning of our mukau trees is done in year 8-10, where you will receive your first return of your trees. The remaining trees are felled in year 15-17, depending on the rainfall and soil fertility of the site, where you will receive the final return on your trees.
Both Acacia senegal and Acacia seyal produce gum arabic. Both species are very drought-resistant and occur in the so-called "gum belt", a swathe of about 300 kilometers wide land stretching all along Africa, from the Atlantic to the Red Sea coast. Acacia senegal also grows further to the south, down to Angola, Zambia and South Africa, and is found even in the Arabian and Indian peninsulas. Gum arabic is a valuable, stabilizing agent with many industrial applications in the food, beverage and printing industries. After extensive studies, BGF is set to plant Acacia senegal in Sosoma in 2015.
Acacia senegal and Acacia seyal can start being exploited for their gum after 3-4 years. Gum yield reaches a stable level by 9-10 years. The trees keep on growing until they reach the end of their productive life, which is about 25 years.
Better Globe Forestry is working with the Kenya Forestry Research Institute (KEFRI) on a strategy for enhancing the genetic quality of mukau by amplifying the selection of plus-trees nationwide and applying a mass-selection of the best material. Already, KEFRI has a collection of superior trees and the idea is to enlarge this collection to cover a wider variety of genetic material. The next step will be to clone superior trees and cross them.
KEFRI also has a unique expertise of genetic variability of Acacia senegal, both nationally and internationally, and provenance trials have been planned to compare yield in gum arabic, based on KEFRI’s Kenyan collection.