I spent 2 years in Belize, Central America. While there, I spent quite some time in the jungles and around logging activities. The climate is very different from that of Southern Ontario. They have a dry season and a rainy season, but it is always warm. That’s why I decided to plant trees in Belize.
Years ago, when I was in college, I took a two-year horticultural program. I was most fascinated by the tree nursery lessons. I had been thinking about setting up a nursery for years, but when I was about to plant, some ‘deadly joy’ would steal my thunder making a comment like, ‘Yes, you grow those trees for your kids “That would keep my track. Trees in Canada are a long-term project and they were right. I would never see the money. Don’t get me wrong. I love my kids, but chances are I need money in the future, that comment held me back for years because I thought it would be wiser to put money into a registered retirement savings plan than investing in my kids’ retirement, everything would be left to my kids anyway, so it didn’t make sense to take a risk and possibly become a burden to them in my older years, then we moved to Belize for 2 years and everything changed.
As I said before, I spent a lot of time in the jungle, but I also drove through the country and visited tree plantations. There are a few large teak plantations in the southern part of Belize. That’s where the itching came back. I had to start a tree nursery. I worked with a fellow Canadian and started doing research. The 2 most popular woods used in Belize are mahogany and Spanish cedar. We bought a piece of barren land, got some seed and started a nursery. Our research showed that these 2 trees would grow well on the land we bought and that both trees grew about an inch in diameter each year. That would give us trees with a trunk diameter of 25 inches by the time I turned 60. That was very exciting. We thought we should replenish our plantation with some teak even though we were a bit north of the country. Ideally, teak would grow about as fast, but we didn’t have those conditions. We planted about 10,000 teak. The wood is expensive and the real bonus of teak is that it regenerates. A teak tree can be cut down and almost immediately a new shoot will grow from the side of the stump into a new tree. This can occur up to seven generations. That would take care of my kids too.
I’d like to tell you that it’s all been roses since we planted, but it wouldn’t be at all. The mahogany and Spanish cedar trees have a drill drilling problem that causes the tips of the branches to die. There is nothing we can do about it except prune. Due to the soil and the climate, the teak grows slower than we had hoped. However, we hope that the second generation of teak will grow much faster because the trees already have roots. We have a full-time employee on the plantation who we pay to take care of the place and keep it up to date. After 5 years, the trees should be large enough to grow alone. Now we are waiting for the harvest.
I believe that tree planting can be done by anyone and there will probably always be a demand for wood. In current market conditions, I am happy to have money in trees instead of a registered retirement savings plan. I would encourage everyone to plant some trees for retirement or for your children. The environment benefits greatly for years.