Africa Wood Grow: the green revolution?

Interview with Roeland Lelieveld

Win a book from Africa Wood Grow


May 20, 2015

'An estimated 18 million acres (7.3 million hectares) of forest, which is roughly the size of the country of Panama, are lost each year, according to the United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO)'. So says Deforestation is mostly concentrated in tropical areas, especially the Amazon. The causes are manifold, under which: housing and urbanization, agriculture, land conversion into crop land, palm oil production, and wood industry. This is all done by clear cutting or burning the forest. Consequences are devastating: homes of indigenous peoples are destroyed, floods are more common because the trees don't protect the land, carbon dioxide emissions and therefore climate change. So therefore, Roeland Lelieveld started with Africa Wood Grow. An interview with him.


  1. What is Africa Wood Grow? What do you to in Kenya?

Africa Wood Grow is a company which plants trees in Kenya in order to solve the wood and deforestation problems in the country. Roeland Lelieveld together with Daniel Muvali initiated this initiative and started when Roeland was in Kenya in 2005 and saw the land being deforested and degraded. Five years later he started Africa Wood Grow (AWG). This company aims to decrease the pressure on nature and forests, while also providing additional incomes for farmers in the region by using intercropping techniques: food products combined with tree plantations. The company plants the trees which delivers income for the company, while the Foundation provides the seedlings for farmers in order to invest in intercropping.

"In 2005 I did my internship in Kenya. It contained marketing research on 5 markets in Kitui county and mapping of a piece of farm land. While mapping the farmland I saw that the land was degrading by grazing cattle and deforestation. I decided to do an extra research on erosion and combine it to the mapping research. This knowledge and the desire to do something grew to a dream of starting a forest and plant trees. Daniel and I talked a lot about how to do it and the possibilities we had no good knowledge or means to start. After the internship we decided to continue to fulfill the reforestation dream and 5 years later we had the money and a plan. And so, Africa Wood Grow was born."




"This is what Africa Wood Grow is: a small seed dreaming to become a massive forest creating a decent live for many."


  1. What is the impact of your activities?

AWG has now 17 hectares of land while providing 6 new jobs and 20 temporary jobs in the region. They produce food between the timber trees in a system called agro-forestry. Near the river there is an experiment with a food-forest using many different food/medicinal trees and food plants inspired by permaculture. Africa Wood Grow is a real knowledge hub in the region, and there are students doing their internship at the farm as well. With the work AWG farmers received a lot of social media and also some traditional media attention. In addition, Roeland is awarded with several prizes and awards. He is awarded with the Simon Jelsma Award from Oxfam Novib and he was one of the Young Dutch sustainability entrepreneurs in 2013.



  1. What do you see in the long run should happen to save our planet earth from green destruction?

If more farmers invest in intercropping, there is less risk of deforestation and instability in the region. In addition, it creates jobs and a new market for sustainable forestry and wood production. AWG also invests in other forms of agriculture, like chicken farming, food forests and more. This increases the resilience of the region and parties like USAid become less necessary since the region provides sustainably its own food.

4. .Another new initiative of AWG is a childrens book, what is it about?

The book, named Mama Kuku, is an initiative from Chantal Koelewijn, inspired by AWG and the environment around it. This is first of all an answer to more sustainable toys for Kenian children, but secondly it is also a message for more equitable and sustainable world because it tells a story of equality and consciousness. The book also creates awareness for the environment we live in and for every book bought one tree will be planted by Forest Market Foundation in cooperation with local farmers and Africa Wood Grow Limited.


The book is not yet ready for the Kenyan market, but you can help by buying one in the Netherlands. Kindly send your request to The price of one book is 10 euro excl. mailing costs.




'Mother chicken Mama Kuku came to the conclusion that being successful doesn't depend on what you do, but how you do it'.


2.Tips and tricks

The best tip is to believe in your self and the possibility to do something, follow that dream.

Another tip is not to become blinded by money and power use your hart and the will to do good.


Find your self touched by this blog and do not hesitate to send a message.


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