Deforestation is a global phenomenon caused by a variety of factors, here we look at the problem, solution and outcome. The factors causing deforestation range from large-scale slash and burn practices, to unsustainable agriculture, to daily community forest destruction.
This leads to problems not just at the site of the destruction but also has far reaching consequences across the world contributing to increasing rates of pollution across land, air and sea. The effects of climate change (see the article here by David Brown) are becoming more and more evident with extreme weather events increasing in frequency such as flooding, droughts and hurricanes for example.
The regions that are most impacted by deforestation are areas of high poverty. Members of the poorest communities are forced to destroy their local environment to survive. This includes activities such as cutting down trees for construction, fuel, heat, and agricultural purposes. (see my article on Haiti) These people are left with few options to support their families. While these activities solve a short-term problem, long-term consequences arise when forests are cut down and not restored. The impact of deforestation is dramatic because it causes death to the local plant and animal communities.
Deforestation also causes severe flooding, erosion, and desertification. The long-term effects of deforestation lead to even worse environmental devastation. This has a severe impact on both the human and non-human populations. This can include slavery and child trafficking of the villagers and extinction for the animals.
Reforestation must be a benefit in the eyes of the local population. Due to the unsustainable relationship between the land and the people, communities suffering from deforestation are often the same as those living in extreme poverty. Any tree planting scheme needs to be committed to working with local communities to achieve long term success. Benefits to communities are that the projects provide steady employment and impoverished villagers can begin to afford daily necessities such as food, shelter, clothing, and medicine.
This of course needs to be supported by funding. Any environmental project needs donors, business partners, and grants.
Reforestation and ecological restoration can only when humans work in partnership with non-human communities. It is up to us as humans to protect the habitat upon which all of us, both human and other-than-human rely.
All the tree planting projects across the world that Ancient and Sacred Trees supports have a specific remit to work in partnership with local communities so that the people become committed to restoring their forests. In many places such as in Nepal for example, (see my article here) locals love their forests but have no choice but to cut down what they love in order to subsist. Our funding helps empower them to employ their own solutions. Take a look at my article on sustainable tourism for example.
The projects work by:
Hiring and training local villagers to plant new trees.
Native tree species are then planted in areas appropriate to the local ecology
The villages manage the nurseries and planting sites.
This gives them a consistent income so they can provide for their families. (See my article on Biak Island)
The villages protect their new forests because they have a vested interest in them.
Local communities are supported and their culture and crafts (See my article here on eco tourism)
The survival rate for seedlings is over 80%. Plantings take in account local ecology. For example, as at Biak island where many Mangrove seedlings get eaten by crabs. Extra seedlings are planted being mindful of the fact that the crab community that lives there that like to eat them. This means that there are plenty of seedlings left over that can survive to grow to fully mature trees. This survival rate is even higher when natural regeneration is factored in.
As the reforestation effort goes on, healthy forests begin to emerge and the negative effects of deforestation begin to disappear.
You can join in by planting trees while receiving personalised printable ecards and certificates in return. You will also receive a pdf sharing our planting locations with regional satellite locations. Information is also provided on the type of tree planting such as dry deciduous forest or mangrove for example. Descriptions of the regions are provided along with biodiversity information. Links are included to the AST website pages with articles about each country.
Together we are a green and growing CommuniTree.