Planting Trees and Changing Lives through the Power of Partnership

April 19, 2016

The Alliance is excited to welcome Trees for the Future as our newest member organization. 

Ashleigh Burgess, Development Associate, Trees for the Future

Since 1989, Trees for the Future (TREES) has planted over 127 million trees around the globe. Based in the Washington, D.C. area for 27 years, TREES has worked with smallholder farmers across the developing world to restore their degraded agricultural land to productivity, while helping them become food secure and turn their farms into financially sustainable enterprises.

TREES’ Executive Director John Leary visits a barren field in Senegal (left). After 4 years of Forest Garden farming, this land was transformed into a productive, diverse landscape (right). Courtesy of Trees for the Future

TREES’ Executive Director John Leary visits a barren field in Senegal (left). After 4 years of Forest Garden farming, this land was transformed into a productive, diverse landscape (right). Courtesy of Trees for the Future.

Currently, TREES works in five countries across Sub-Saharan Africa (Senegal, Cameroon, Tanzania, Kenya, and Uganda) to implement an innovative farming system called the Forest Garden Approach. At present, we work with over 27,000 beneficiaries across 23 project zones to promote food security and income generation for the rural poor.

Practically, the Forest Garden Approach consists of a mix of 4,000 fast-growing trees, fruit trees, protective tree species, and horticulture crops on a one to two hectare plot of land. This tree-focused system of agriculture helps restore environmentally degraded lands and protect forests from further encroachment. It ends the battle between farms and forests, while  improving livelihoods by:

  • Increasing community and household food security
  • Enhancing nutrition and micronutrient consumption
  • Producing healthy, protein-rich animal fodder
  • Growing more and diverse crops to sell at market all year round
  • Earning average income gains of 400% after four years
  • Promoting biodiversity and water conservation on farms
  • Meeting household energy needs
  • Reducing farmers’ vulnerability to climate change
  • Helping families access to clean water and school through income generation

Through our innovative, hands-on Forest Garden design and training programs, we help farmers by asking them “what do you need and what can you sell?” Simple, intuitive, and crucial questions such as these have led us understand the needs of some of the poorest farmers across Sub-Saharan Africa, and to work with them to promote the Forest Gardens. This approach is a bit different than other interventions as it promotes sustainable farming that is completely in-sync with environmental sustainability, while making rural African farmers and their families more food secure and economically prosperous.

We are very excited to join the Alliance to End Hunger because we understand our approach to be one of the most effective ways to lift families out of poverty and promote food and nutritional security. Our many years in of hands-on programming has given us a unique perspective in the global fight to end hunger, and we bring to the Alliance a specific knowledge relating to food security and agriculture best practices, as well as tree planting. Second, we are excited to work within the Alliance’s network of influencers—including other NGOs, universities, foundations, and the private sector—to unite in our efforts to end hunger and poverty for 1 million people by 2020. Third, our strong relationship with the private sector is unique among the NGO community and we are proud to work with hundreds of  small and medium-sized businesses that donate to us for a variety of reasons including increasing their global competitiveness, brand growth, and carbon offsets through tree planting. We believe we can offer insights for other NGOs and institutions on how to build partnerships with the business community and bridge the public- private sector gap.

To accelerate our efforts in Sub-Saharan Africa, TREES has committed to plant 4 million trees for Earth Day 2016. Through this campaign, we will help thousands of farmers earn sustainable livelihoods, promote nutrition and food security, and plant beneficial trees that restore degraded landscapes across Sub-Saharan Africa. Please join us in ending poverty and hunger for one million people by visiting our website. We look forward to exploring the power of partnership through the Alliance to End Hunger.