We all understand the importance of trees to helping us solve climate change; forests are called the lungs of the Earth for a reason. But, reforestation projects are not all alike. Some projects are focused on rehabilitating specific species or habitats. Others try to maximize carbon storage or even create carbon credit programs to offset emissions. Understanding the differences is a great way to make sure you are backing projects that you believe in.
Here at EARTHDAY.ORG, our Canopy Project focuses on restoring biodiverse habitats that are at risk from climate change and environmental destruction, while ensuring that the people who live near our planting projects guide and benefit from our work. We do this by planting native and endemic species, training local workers and strengthening food and economic security in nearby communities.
One project we are currently supporting is located on the Northeast peninsula of Madagascar near the Masoala National Park. Coordinated by a Malagasy team from the city of Antalaha, our planting project has helped the village of Ambatobe plant 70,000 trees in 2020. The restored canopy cover will help stabilize and regenerate local soil and protect the nearby riverbank from serious floods and cyclones.
Thanks to the restored trees, the entire Ambatobe community will benefit. 110 small-scale farmers and their families have worked to create a local cooperative to protect and steward the reforested area. They are working collaboratively to tend to the growing trees and to harvest the fruits, coffee and cloves that some of the planted species will provide. The cooperative will use funds raised from crops to help purchase solar panels, manage irrigation and reclaim any excess product from the harvesting process for use in their gardens.
Through this process, the farming community will see the benefits of sustainably managing their reforested area. Madagascar, like most forested locations in continental Africa, faces severe threats due to unsustainable farming and illegal logging practices. By working with the local farmers, we are helping educate and train them on the long-term benefits of responsibly stewarded forests.
Our planet needs widespread reforestation. We must rebuild habitats and sequester carbon to conserve our natural resources and fight climate change. All types of reforestation, from seed dispersal to carbon accreditation, are needed on a massive scale. If these projects are not integrated with stewardship and education, then we will continue to see deforestation from overlogging and agriculture.
Valuing and caring for our forest habitats is just as essential as reforestation. For EARTHDAY.ORG, focusing on the people who live by our planted trees builds a community of forest stewards who soon see the direct impact that the trees have on their lives and the health of their restored environment.
Want to get involved with the Canopy Project’s Madagascar program? You can donate to our project here! Through EARTHDAY.ORG, we can plant one tree for every $1 donated.
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