The world's forests are being consumed rapidly. Trees are cut down for paper and wood products, for cooking fuel, to clear land for development, and to expand farming areas. The land left behind is stripped not only of its trees, but the plants, animals, and insects that lived in that ecosystem as well. With no plant roots to hold it in place, valuable soil washes away with every rainfall and ends up in the rivers and streams upon which people depend for their water supply. In extreme cases, hundreds or thousands of people lose their homes or perish in landslides when deforested slopes become unstable.
Forests also play an important part in regulating global climate. Trees remove carbon dioxide, a major greenhouse gas, from the atmosphere, while cycling oxygen back into it. When trees are cut down, however, the CO2 is released again. It is estimated that up to 25% of the total amount of CO2 going into the atmosphere every year is released from trees being cut and burned. It's clear that protecting the world's forests is an important part of solving the global climate change problem.
Our approach to reforestation involves more than just protecting forests and planting trees. We have created successful community-led reforestation projects in Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, and Nicaragua, in addition to American Indian reservations in the United States.
Our reforestation programs focus on establishing and maintaining tree nurseries, educating communities about the positive environmental impacts of reforestation, and strengthening economic development, both through conservation and the responsible management of forest resources. We work with existing local groups, schools, and communities in extremely low-income rural and peri-urban areas to provide guidance on how to plant, graft, and maintain their trees.
Community tree nurseries in Central America and Haiti produce tree seedlings and plant them in deforested areas, family farms, and around their homes. A diverse range of tree species, many of which are native to the areas we work, are planted. Some of these trees will be used for firewood and fruit production, while others will remain for the duration of the trees' life, sequestering carbon and creating healthy soils and watersheds.
An FRA is a partnership between farmers who have small plots of their land available for tree production, but cannot afford the start-up costs and small timber consumers who do not have the land or labor to plant and care for a tree plantation, but can help the farmer finance these operations.
Trees, Water & People and our partner PROLEÑA have implemented Forest Replacement Association (FRA) programs throughout Nicaragua.
Our partner organizations on the ground develop close relationships with local leaders, farmers, governments, schools, and universities to plant trees in and around homes, on local farms, in protected areas, and throughout communities.
In addition, using tree planting as an environmental education tool gives us the opportunity to work closely with all ages of school children and college age students. Curriculum is created that integrates environment, health, and economic themes, fostering future natural resource managers and environmentalists.
Our community tree nurseries are at the heart of our reforestation program because they give us a place to safely grow all of our tree species and provide meaningful employment to local people.
We are proud to not only produce hundreds of thousands of trees every year, we are also very proud to offer local people jobs that are sustainable, empowering, and lead to a greater quality of life for both themselves and their families.
Healthy forests build healthy soils and healthy ecosystems. Today we are losing forests at a faster rate than we are replacing them - but you can help to reverse this trend.
Fund our tree nurseries and reforestation projects; plant a memorial forest for a loved one; start a reforestation campaign via your school, community, or company; offset your CO2 footprint by planting trees; or even offset your company's paper use. Most importantly, help us spread the word about TWP!