News / Science & Technology

Trees for the Future Planting Seeds Around the World

Trees for the Future puts their focus on deforested regions around the world to help bring back degraded lands through the planting of trees.

Growing fruit trees in Africa
Growing fruit trees in Africa
Rebecca Ward

The legendary American Johnny Appleseed secured his place in history for promoting the planting of apple trees throughout the young United States.  Now, more than 200 years later, an environmental organization is doing much the same thing.  However, the focus of Trees for the Future is on deforested regions around the world.

Ethan Budiansky, Head of International Programs at Trees for the Future, says trees can bring degraded lands back to life.

"They increase the amount of biomass.  A lot of the trees being planted are nitrogen-fixing.  They bring water tables back.  They increase drinking water and irrigation water for the people that are planting the trees."

In Ethiopia, Washington-based Trees for the Future has distributed about 1.9 million trees.  Program Coordinator for Ethiopia, Gabriel Buttram, says the program works with local communities to promote green agroforestry techniques that also help increase productivity.

He says by fixing nitrogen and using green fertilizers, such as leaves from the trees, planters can increase household food security.  At the same time,  Buttram says, growing trees can provide the locals with a source of income when they sell their mangos and papayas, or maringa leaves.

Deforestation is a serious environmental problem, often leading to soil erosion and degradation.  Budiansky says one of the reasons for deforestation is what he calls "slash and burn" agriculture.  The trees are cut down, the land is burned to clear it for crops.  Once the corn, beans or perhaps peanuts have depleted the land of nutrients, the farmers leave, and cattle eat what little greenery still grows on the land.

“A recent FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization) report says we are losing somewhere around 13-million hectares of trees per year.  That's about an area the size of (the U.S. state of) Rhode Island being cut daily."

One of the worst-hit areas of this disastrous practice is in Kenya, where Trees for the Future’s David Tye is the Regional Coordinator for East and Southern Africa.

"It has about two percent of the original forest cover left in Kenya.  The other countries, Uganda and Tanzania, are not as bad, but still getting worse every year."

Tye says he encourages people to plant trees near their homes and farms, and the idea has taken root, especially in Kenya.

"People realize they need to plant trees.  It's gotten so bad that women have to travel farther and farther for firewood.  Adults talk about their childhood, how this forest used to be here but now it's gone.  So people are really interested in planting trees now."

Trees for the Future has projects in 26 countries across the globe.  Last year alone, the organization helped put more than 17 million trees in the ground.

You May Like

Multimedia Brussels Schools, Metro Reopen Under Heavy Guard

City remains under the highest threat alert level due to what authorities have described as a 'serious and imminent' threat of attack

Video Debt-ridden Refugees Await Onslaught of Lebanese Winter

Aid agencies are attempting to reduce potentially devastating consequences of freezing conditions and snowstorms that killed eight last year, including three Syrian refugees

Americans Think About Strange Stuff at Thanksgiving

Millions of Americans are celebrating Thanksgiving, but they’re not necessarily thinking about turkey and stuffing

This forum has been closed.
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
After Paris Attacks, France Steps Up Fight Against ISi
November 24, 2015 3:04 AM
The November 13 Paris attacks have drawn increased attention to Syria, where many of the suspected perpetrators are said to have received training. French President Francois Hollande is working to build a broad international coalition to defeat Islamic State in Syria and in Iraq. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video After Paris Attacks, France Steps Up Fight Against IS

The November 13 Paris attacks have drawn increased attention to Syria, where many of the suspected perpetrators are said to have received training. French President Francois Hollande is working to build a broad international coalition to defeat Islamic State in Syria and in Iraq. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video US, Cambodian Navies Pair Up in Gulf of Thailand

The U.S. Navy has deployed one of its newest and most advanced ships to Cambodia to conduct joint training drills in the Gulf of Thailand. Riding hull-to-hull with Cambodian ships, the seamen of the USS Fort Worth are executing joint-training drills that will help build relations in Southeast Asia. David Boyle reports for VOA from Preah Sihanouk province.

Video Americans Sharpen Focus on Terrorism

Washington will be quieter than usual this week due to the Thanksgiving holiday, even as Americans across the nation register heightened concerns over possible terrorist threats. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports new polling data from ABC News and the Washington Post newspaper show an electorate increasingly focused on security issues after the deadly Islamic State attacks in Paris.

Video World Leaders Head to Paris for Climate Deal

Heads of state from nearly 80 countries are heading to Paris (November 30-December 11) to craft a global climate change agreement. The new accord will replace the Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change that expired in 2012.

Video Uncertain Future for Syrian Refugee Resettlement in Illinois

For the trickle of Syrian refugees finding new homes in the Midwest city of Chicago, the call to end resettlement in many U.S. states is adding another dimension to their long journey fleeing war. Organizations working to help them integrate say the backlash since the Paris attacks is both harming and helping their efforts to provide refugees sanctuary. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

Video Creating Physical Virtual Reality With Tiny Drones

As many computer gamers know, virtual reality is a three-dimensional picture, projected inside special googles. It can fool your brain into thinking the computer world is the real world. But If you try to touch it, it’s not there. Now Canadian researchers say it may be possible to create a physical virtual reality using tiny drones. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video New American Indian Village Takes Visitors Back in Time

There is precious little opportunity to experience what life was like in the United States before its colonization by European settlers. Now, an American Indian village built in a park outside Washington is taking visitors back in time to experience the way of life of America's indigenous people. Carol Pearson narrates this report from VOA's June Soh.

Video Even With Hometown Liberated, Yazidi Refugees Fear Return

While the northern Iraqi town of Sinjar has been liberated from Islamic State forces, it's not clear whether Yazidi residents who fled the militants will now return home. VOA’s Mahmut Bozarslan talked with Yazidis, a religious and ethnic minority, at a Turkish refugee camp in Diyarbakır. Robert Raffaele narrates his report.

Video Nairobi Tailors Make Pope Francis’ Vestments

To ensure the pope is properly attired during his visit, the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops asked the Dolly Craft Sewing Project in the Nairobi slum of Kangemi to make the pope's vestments, the garments he will wear during the various ceremonies. Jill Craig reports.

Video Cross-Border Terrorism Puts Europe’s Passport-Free Travel in Doubt

The fallout from the Islamic State terror attacks in Paris has put the future of Europe’s passport-free travel area, known as the "Schengen Zone," in doubt. Several of the perpetrators were known to intelligence agencies, but were not intercepted. Henry Ridgwell reports from London European ministers are to hold an emergency meeting Friday in Brussels to look at ways of improving security.

Video El Niño Brings Unexpected Fish From Mexico to California

Fish in an unexpected spectrum of sizes, shapes and colors are moving north, through El Niño's warm currents from Mexican waters to the Pacific Ocean off California’s coast. El Nino is the periodic warming of the eastern and central Pacific Ocean. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this phenomenon thrills scientists and gives anglers the chance of a once-in-a-lifetime big catch. Faith Lapidus narrates.

Video Terrorism in Many Forms Continues to Plague Africa

While the world's attention is on Paris in the wake of Friday night's deadly attacks, terrorism from various sides remains a looming threat in many African countries. Nigerian cities have been targeted this week by attacks many believe were staged by the violent Islamist group Boko Haram. In addition, residents in many regions are forced to flee their homes as they are terrorized by armed militias. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Study: Underage Marriage Rate Higher for Females in Pakistan

While attitudes about the societal role of females in Pakistan are evolving, research by child advocacy group Plan International suggests that underage marriage of girls remains a particularly big issue in the country. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports how such marriages leads to further social problems.

VOA Blogs