What causes deforestation?


What causes deforestation varies depending on the country. Generally, deforestation occurs because communities need wood for construction, fuel to cook, fuel to keep warm, and land to plant crops and feed their families. While deforesting the land might solve short term problems there are devastating long term consequences globally when forests are cut down and not restored.

Deforestation is a global phenomenon caused by a variety of factors. These factors range from large-scale slash and burn practices, to unsustainable agriculture, to daily community forest destruction. In countries where poverty is widespread, communities often rely on cutting down trees for construction, cooking fuel, farming or livelihood creation. With few options to support their families, oftentimes these thousands of poverty stricken villagers are forced to destroy their local environment to survive.

What are the solutions to deforestation?


There are two key elements to successful reforestation. The first is that you have to benefit the local population. People who are suffering the impact of deforestation are living in extreme poverty because of the connection between the land and the local community. It is important to have a commitment and work with local villages in order to have successful reforestation efforts. The second, critical element is funding. Without our donors, business partners, and grants there is no way this work could get done. To date in 2018, supporters have helped plant over 200 million trees across the world.

There are two key elements to successful reforestation. The first is that reforestation must present a benefit to the local population. Communities that are suffering from the impact of deforestation tend to be the same ones living in extreme poverty because of the destructive relationship between the land and the people. It is important to have the commitment of and work with the local villages and communities in order to achieve a successful and longstanding reforestation effort. The second, critical element is funding. Without donors, business partners and grants, there is little hope for successful and impactful reforestation to take place.

To date in 2018, Eden Reforestation Project supporters have helped plant over 200 million trees across the globe.

How does reforestation help with poverty relief?


If you destroy the environment, you destroy the economy. When trees are destroyed it makes the soil worthless. As a result, people can no longer grow food to feed their families and the soil won’t absorb water into aquifers. As people lift their environment they also lift themselves out of extreme poverty. This gives them the chance to see their soil restored again, see water restored, aquifers refilled, and the streams, rivers, and springs begin to flow again. And that is the link between reforestation and extreme poverty- food, water and economy.

Is there a relationship between deforestation and climate change?


Restoration of the world’s forests is vitally important. Among many other benefits, trees produce oxygen, sequester carbon and cool land. Tragically, about half of the world’s forests have been cut down over the past 100 years which has resulted in devastating desertification, erosion and flooding. As the health of the land decreases so does the health of the people who depend on it for their survival. When the land suffers, people suffer too. Eden exists to alleviate extreme poverty through the restoration of healthy forest systems and our Employ to Plant Methodology is restoring both land and lives.

What areas are most affected by deforestation?


The areas of the world that are most impacted by deforestation are also some of the most poverty-stricken and underdeveloped areas worldwide. This connection exist because most often poverty stricken populations are desperate to survive and cut down the trees in order to provide for their families. This could mean, cutting down trees for agricultural purposes or to sell fuel wood, however as we know the long-term impacts of these actions are dramatic and lead to even worse environmental devastation.

Is the land planted on public or privately owned? For how long is the land protected and under what agreement?


The answer to this question varies from nation to nation and site to site. In Madagascar, the land is almost always owned by the tribal community, but we also work within federally owned national forests. In Haiti, the land is almost always privately owned. In Indonesia, the land is typically owned by the local or national government. While in Nepal, the land is generally communal and becomes a community owned forest, however we also work within federally owned national forest buffer zones. Thanks to the hard work of our in country staff, Eden Reforestation Projects has developed deep and respectful relationships on all levels of community and government departments, typically allowing us to form written agreements with a clause leading to a perpetual forest.

How much does it cost to plant a tree?


The costs to plant a tree varies by nation due to variance in labor costs from nation to nation. It can costs anywhere from $0.10 to $0.35 cents a tree. The cost covers all of the expenses including nursery costs, transporting the seedlings to the reforestation site, planting them, guarding them, and weeding them a little later in the season to give them a head start on all the vegetation that would be competing. Employment and administration costs are included in the tree price.

What kind of trees do you plant?


Eden Reforestation Projects plants only native species trees, which vary from nation to nation. We never plant or introduce any invasive species at any of our project sites. While true reforestation remains our focus, we also plant a percentage of agroforestry species for sustainable community use. This prevents the community from going into newly restored forests and provides greater community benefit and involvement in the project.

Are the trees planted from seeds or saplings?


This varies from nation to nation. In general,

  • In Haiti, the trees are grown to sapling size in our nursery and then planted.
  • In Madagascar, the mangroves forests are planted directly from propagules.
  • In Madagascar, the dry deciduous forest trees are grown to seedling size in our nursery before planting.
  • In Nepal, the trees are grown to seedling size before planting.
  • In Indonesia, the mangroves are planted from propagules.
  • In Indonesia, the tropical species are grown to seedling size before planting.

Where do you purchase the seed/saplings from?


The overwhelming percentage of our seeds are collected by local villagers that travel into nearby remnant forests to collect native species tree seeds. Additional seeds can also be purchased from local, trusted seed banks if required to supplement collected seeds. We never purchase seedlings, but rather grow our own in our nurseries to ensure quality and germination rates.

How do you prevent deforestation of the new forests you are developing?


Eden Reforestation Projects makes every effort to ensure the forests we plant become permanent and sustainable. Towards this end we have implemented the following steps:

  • We work carefully with all levels of government and community authorities to secure written agreements designating the restoration sites as protected in perpetuity.
  • We hire local villagers to plant the trees. In this way, we alleviate extreme poverty within the impacted community. The villagers now have an economic incentive to ensure the wellbeing of the restoration project. They also have a sense of “ownership” over the trees and restored forest and they protect it with great care.
  • A minimum of 10% of the trees to be planted are agroforestry species (fruit, fodder and construction species designed to provide food security and benefit legitimate human needs). Over time these trees become a source of sustainable income.
  • We do all possible to supply the local villagers with alternative fuel sources (fuel efficient dry wood stoves and solar parabolic stoves), which reduces and or eliminates their dependence on charcoal.
  • We employ local villagers to guard and to help protect the newly reforested sites.

Do you plant in any potential logging areas? If not, how do you ensure against illegal logging or land development?


We do not plant in logging areas. While there is never any 100% guarantee that some form of illegal harvest will not occur, as noted above, we do everything within legal limits to ensure the restoration sites are guaranteed to stand in perpetuity.

What is the survival rate?


Mangrove Restoration Systems: In Madagascar, Indonesia and Mozambique the initial survival rate at our mangrove restoration projects exceeds 80%. However, between years three and five the young mangrove trees begin to produce their own propagules (baby mangrove trees) resulting in a proliferation of natural regeneration. Multiple studies demonstrate the initial survival rate combined with natural regeneration results in a luxuriant impact ranging between 150 and 500 percent.

Madagascar Dry Deciduous: The initial survival rate of dry deciduous projects in Madagascar exceeds 60%. However, natural regeneration becomes a major contributing forest escalating factor by year three. We are consistently seeing natural regeneration species surpass our original planting numbers, meaning the longer term impact is multiplied beyond the original planting tally. Nature always finds a way, and most especially when we fully cooperate.

Nepal Tropical and Upland Forest: After three full year of planting operation (2018), the survival rates at Eden's forest restoration sites in Nepal are following similar pattern to Madagascar dry deciduous efforts. The phenomena associated with natural regeneration dramatically enhances the original planting numbers.

Haiti Agroforestry: Eden’s work in Haiti has focused primarily on the planting of agroforestry species (trees for human use). Formal studies have yet to be conducted in Haiti, but initial observation demonstrate the survival rates of the various fruit, fodder, and construction wood trees entrusted to local farmers is in the 80% range.

At what stage do you consider the tree as "survived"? Do you have any statistics available on this?


While we conduct our own reporting and monitoring activities annually to ensure survival and tree quality, we also work with several third party verification partners. Currently, support studies are being conducted by several academic partners including the Department of Physical Geography at Stockholm University, Leeds University in the U.K, and several others. These studies take time and therefore, the results are expected to be completed later in 2018 and into 2019.

Who do you employ to plant and manage the forests?


The work begins and ends with employing the poorest of the poor. Most forest restoration advocates fail to recognize the fact that extreme poverty is one of the primary causes behind global deforestation. Therefore, Eden’s mission begins with providing fair wage employment to local villagers who live adjacent to the project sites. In this way, the local villagers are provided with an alternative income source and no longer need to rely upon destroying forest resources for survival. Eden has seen great success through our Employ to Plant methodology.

How do you track the number of trees you have successfully planted? How often do you adjust those numbers for trees that have died?


The Eden team leaders have developed reliable systems which count and sort the number of seedlings produced in the nurseries and or mangrove propagules collected. We then plant the seedlings and prorogues within designated sites.

A percentage of seedling and propagule mortality is of course inevitable. What we have discovered is mortality becomes irrelevant as natural regeneration begins to occur and begins to multiply impact. At our mangrove sites, natural regeneration typically exceeds 200% of the original number planted. The same is true of the dry deciduous sites in Madagascar. We are already seeing the same multiplication effect in Nepal. Nature finds a way whenever humans cooperate.

Do you have any data on carbon offsetting for your projects?


To date, Eden Reforestation Projects can offer conservative data on carbon offsetting for mangroves sites per hectare. This data is based on reliable and established protocol studies. Unfortunately, this data relates solely to mangroves, and we continue to work towards establishing a reliable protocol for our other tree planting species.

How do the partnership levels work?


All business partners start at the "Seed Level" and will be moved to higher levels based on total donations received. We routinely update the partnership levels as partners move into a new tier and make social media announcements.

How can I volunteer for a project?


While we are extremely grateful for to those who have the desire to volunteer with us, we do not have opportunities for individuals to volunteer at our planting sites. Because it is our mission to plant trees as well as alleviate extreme poverty, it is important that the work we have to be given to those who are living in extreme poverty within our project nations. Their jobs with us are oftentimes their only reliable source of income, so we do not have volunteers do any planting work in order to provide employment to as many people as possible.

Can you start a project in my country?


Eden Reforestation Projects is always looking for ways to plant more trees while alleviating extreme poverty. Therefore, we are always open to expansion opportunities. Eden Projects has a vetting process for any potential new sites or project nations that begin with funding opportunities and reliable relationships. If you would like us to consider starting a project in your country, please email us at [email protected].

How can I start a project/organization in my country?


As of right now, we do not have any documentation on how to start/manage reforestation work. Our founder, Stephen Fitch, developed our methodology on reforestation as a way to help impoverished nations while he was in Ethiopia in 2004. You can read all about the beginning of our projects at www.edenprojects.org/history.