Eden Reforestation Projects’ concept began in Ethiopia in 2004 under the leadership of Dr. Stephen Fitch. The product of an aid worker upbringing, Dr. Stephen Fitch had grown up in a “third world culture” in the Philippines and understood the dynamics of poverty that can easily overtake and destroy peoples’ lives. While in Ethiopia, Dr. Fitch witnessed villages that had been decimated by deforestation. Many of the villagers, who had been raised over many generations in these areas, were now being threatened with relocation to refugee camps following radical deforestation. “Eden Reforestation Projects” was launched in order to attempt to reverse environmental devastation that negatively impacted families and local culture.
Now, as a non-profit in the US, and functioning with I-NGO status within our project nations, Eden Reforestation Projects is now successfully reducing extreme poverty and restoring healthy forests. Since it began in Ethiopia Eden has expanded into Madagascar in 2007, Haiti in 2010, Nepal in 2015, Indonesia in 2017, and Mozambique in 2018. Eden remains committed to employing thousands of local villagers who plant healthy forests systems for as little as 10¢ per tree. Since 2005, Eden has successfully employed over 3,500 full and partial season village workers, and by our thirteenth year (2018) we had planted over 200,000,000 trees! Our Objective, which we hope to achieve by the year 2020, is to plant a minimum of 100 million trees each year and to offer a life transforming wage to tens of thousands of villagers in countries where poverty is rampant.
THE FIRST PROJECT – ETHIOPIA
Eden Reforestation Projects began its work in Ethiopia in 2005, and its phase-one project at the Udo 3 Hills Project site was completed in 2014 with 15,848,000 trees planted. Villagers who cut down the forests in order to cultivate crops on the land, and produce charcoal for cooking and heating drove much of the destruction in this area. These destructive practices had quickly turned productive land into desert.
The solution emerged to plant trees as a way to give local villagers jobs. Thousands of full and partial season workers were hired during the first decade of Eden’s existence, and the entire Udo Hills area was replanted, representing 158,480 days of work created.
The lessons learned from this initial project continue to be used to expand Eden Reforestation Projects around the world. Our focus is still on reducing extreme poverty, but it is also matched in its objectives by the ability to provide a cost-effective process for the reforestation. Sadly, in 2014 Eden’s work in Ethiopia was terminated as a result of fraudulent behavior on the part of local leaders.
Eden Reforestation Projects began planting in Madagascar in 2007. The mangrove projects have consistently grown and are now (2018) replenishing the enormous Malagasy mangrove forests at a rate of over 3.7 million trees per month. Under the direction of Jamie Shattenberg, the Madagascar reforestation work has emerged as our largest project and according to World Bank officials is reportedly larger than all of the other reforestation projects on the island nation combined.
Beginning in 2014 our project efforts expanded to also include inland dry deciduous species in partnership with two national parks. Most recently in Fall of 2017 the Malagasy government granted access to 540 hectares (1,334.34 acres) of land in the Green Belt to help manage and expand the Mariano National Park.
Eden Reforestation Projects began planting in Haiti in 2010 and it has proved to be one of the most challenging projects in the organizations history.
Eden has been working directly with Providence University and local community leaders through partnership with farmer cooperatives. To date over 1,200,000 trees have been produced and planted.
This year (2018) has proved to be pivotal in the work being done in Haiti as nurseries have continued scaling in production, while fruit trees to address food security continue to be planted and distributed through framer cooperatives and International Child Care Schools.
Eden Reforestation Projects began working in Nepal in 2015 since then Eden has been working in three distinct regions across Nepal, including a partnership with Chitwan National Park (World Heritage Site). In three short years, we have seen the most rapid tree growth in any of our nations, ever.
Nepal has experienced a 20% increase in tree planting from 2017 to 2018 and has planted over 1 million trees in 2018 alone. The 2019 objective includes planting over 1,400,000 additional trees.
In 2017 Eden Reforestation Projects began working in Indonesia. There are five restoration sites opened on the Island of Biak and since it’s start over 1.7 million trees will have been planted. Expandable systems are now in place. In 2019 Eden’s work in Indonesia will expand to Yapan Island and the mainland of New Guinea. In 2019 Eden will be capable of planting up to 8.0 million more trees in Indonesia within a single year of production. As a biodiversity hotspot, there is an urgent need to restore the vital forest systems through the Island Nation.
Thanks to the generous support of the Vos Foundation Eden Reforestation projects began work in Mozambique in late 2018. Team selection, training, and planting have already begun and the team has proven their productivity by planting over 240,000 trees before the end of the year. In 2019, Eden’s work in Mozambique is capable of increasing the work to 4.0 million trees in the first full year of tree planting activity.