Agroforestry Peace Corps volunteers in northern Cameroon are supposed to be fighting deforestation and desertification by working with local communities to establish small tree nurseries and forests in their villages. So what to grow? Fruit trees and some nitrogenous species were popular. Most of the communities that I worked with, however, wanted trees that would grow rapidly to produce wood for firewood. Because most people in this region (the Extreme North Province) cook over a fire wood is a pressing need every day. So what grows the fastest, doesn’t get eaten and withstands the area’s blistering heat? After many futile attempts at growing acacias and other native trees, Neem (Azadirachta indica) won out. As you can probably tell from its Latin name this was not a native species. I was torn, is it better to plant trees that grow quickly and provide much needed wood, or is it better to plant slower-growing native trees? I struggled with this question quite a bit because my undergraduate thesis was on invasive plant species in the northeast US. I was well aware of what damage non-native species could do. I decided however, that these trees were more like crops, being grown for immediate and frequent use, rather than any kind of attempt at creating a “natural” or “native” forest. I am still not sure if I’m right about that though.