Trees For the Future: Fighting Poverty and Climate Change With Agroforestry

Trees For the Future is an innovative nonprofit organization that fights poverty, hunger, land degradation, and global climate change through agroforestry.

What They Do

Agroforestry is the practice of combining trees and shrubs with crops or livestock in order to create more sustainable and productive agricultural systems. One of the simplest and most familiar agroforestry practices is the use of hedgerows. Hedgerows consisting of shrubs and small trees act as a windbreak to shelter crops and livestock, as a wildlife corridor and haven for pollinators and other beneficial animals, as a living fence and source of fodder for livestock, and as a natural erosion control barrier. Other forms of agroforestry include alley cropping, silvopasture, and forest farming.

Trees For the Future’s work combines seed distribution, tree planting, agroforestry training, and other programs designed to meet the needs of local communities. Much like, they enter communities only by request, which helps ensure the commitment of the community to the project.

To date, Trees For the Future has planted more than 60 million trees in 18 countries in Africa, Asia, and the Americas. Because its methods encourage natural regeneration of native forests lying dormant due to overgrazing or other forms of land degradation, the actual number of trees that can be directly attributed to Trees for the Future’s activities is even higher. Through GPS monitoring, maps of Trees for the Future’s projects, nurseries, and other operations are now available on Google Earth for viewing.

Planting trees in Haiti

One of the most critical priorities for Trees for the Future is assisting in the reforestation of Haiti. The extreme poverty of Haiti is in large part the result of deforestation. The island, which used to be covered almost entirely by lush forest, now has just 1-2% tree cover, and dropping. The loss of Haiti’s trees has contributed to deadly landslides, floods, and droughts, devastating soil erosion, and even to poor nutrition and respiratory health, as fruit and nut producing trees have been cut down to make into charcoal for cooking and energy. Trees for the Future has been working in Haiti since 2002 and has established several large nurseries to provide fast-growing, productive trees to begin the colossal task of reforesting the island.

In addition to directly helping villages establish agroforestry projects, Trees for the Future also acts as an agroforestry resource center, with numerous free publications and other resources devoted to agroforestry available on the website. This includes a comprehensive agroforestry training manual, available in five different languages, and a long distance agroforestry training program, both designed to help interested individuals gain the knowledge to establish projects of their own.

How You Can Help

Trees for the Future is rated a 4 star charity by Charity Navigator, with more than 80% of their annual budget going directly to program expenses. Trees for the Future accepts donations of used cars and boats as well as more traditional monetary donations.

Green businesses may be interested in one of Trees For the Future’s two business partnership programs. The Global Cooling program offers eco-conscious businesses the opportunity to offset their carbon emissions by supporting Trees for the Future’s tree planting efforts around the world. Plant-a-Tree Partnerships offer businesses the opportunity to have a tree planted for every sale or other milestone they reach.

You can also support Trees for the Future by connecting on Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, or YouTube.

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