Komaza currently plants two species carefully selected for the environment of coastal Kenya. Both species are growing well, and we plan to scale up plantings significantly in the years ahead. We are also working with leading foresters to trial additional species, with the ultimate goal of offering both farmers and wood markets with diverse product offerings tailored to meet their individual needs.
EUCALYPTUS Grandis x Camaldulensis
Eucalyptus is one of the most common forestry species in the world. Komaza plants E. grandis x camaldulensis, a hybrid bred in South Africa that was brought to Kenya over 20 years ago. E.GC exhibits the fast-growth and straightness of E. grandis, with the drought-resistant trait of E. camaldulensis. The trees are also self-pruning (small branches drop off as trees grow) and coppice after harvesting (regrowing from the stump several times after being cut down).
Eucalyptus GCs yield a variety of valuable wood products. To maximize long-term growth, smaller and lower-quality trees are thinned in early years to reduce competition, producing a mix of building poles, fence posts, roofing rafters, and other small-diameter products. Larger trees from final harvests can be used as electricity transmission poles, sawlogs for timber, or peeled into veneers for plywood.
Eucalyptus sometimes has a bad reputation. Some say it drinks too much water, depletes soil nutrients, suppresses other species, or can be invasive. These risks are either unfounded, or context specific and easily avoided. Komaza has worked with leading foresters and conservationists to develop operational protocols to ensure our eucalyptus forestry is highly responsible and environmentally safe. Komaza is deeply committed to preserving and restoring our environments, and we have done our homework. When used properly, Eucalyptus are beneficial for restoring highly degraded sites and are one of the most efficient biological machines for growing sustainable wood.
Melia is a fast-growing drought-resistant tree indigenous to East Africa's drylands. The species is championed by leading foresters as the ideal timber tree for East Africa for many good reasons. In addition to thriving in harsh conditions, Melia produces very high-quality timber comparable to mahogany, yielding very high prices and competitive advantage in both local and global timber markets.
Melia is also an ideal agro-forestry species to intercrop with farmers' existing food crops. The roots form symbiotic mycorrhizal relationships with fungi that fix Nitrogen to the soil, and seasonal leaf litter rebuilds eroded topsoils. Moderate shade reduces soil temperatures and evaporation, and the trees increase the water carrying capacity of the site, increasing much-needed soil moisture for other crops in semi-arid environments. Over many years Melia can rebuild site fertility and have a positive impact on the yields of surrounding food crops, offering farmers a uniquely compelling win-win.
As Melia provides important environmental benefits while producing very high-quality sawlogs, these trees should be planted on every acre of deforested agricultural farms across East Africa. But despite strong encouragement from academics, no one has yet seriously operationalized and scaled this species. Over the last few years, Komaza has quickly emerged as one of Kenya's largest Melia planters, and we're just getting started. With an eye towards producing sawn lumber for high-end furniture and housing fixtures for regional and global export markets, we are well on our way to becoming the world's leading Melia tree planter and wood supplier. We will soon begin harvesting seeds from our fastest-growing, straightest flowering trees with the goal of developing the world's first improved line of Melia, and enviable resource that will continue to improve every generation.