In our battle against climate change, deforestation is a big part of the problem. The good news is that reforestation is a big part of the solution.
Deforestation is contributing to a dangerous decline in the planet’s biodiversity and is directly responsible for roughly 20 percent of the greenhouse gas emissions from the modern age and possibly more; this has created problems around the world, but particularly across Eastern Africa. Urban growth has created a great demand for charcoal resulting in a loss of some 575,000 hectares annually for fuel wood — just in Tanzania; Kenya has already lost the majority of its forests.
In addition to the carbon released when forests are burned, deforestation cripples the planet’s capacity to filter harmful CO2 from our air, which compounds the problem even further. If all carbon emissions stopped today, our climate problems will continue to intensify because of existing carbon levels in our atmosphere and the lack of forests to convert CO2 back to oxygen.
As it happens, people who rely on the forests the most are hardest hit by the developing environmental crisis. The livelihoods of small farmers are worsening as a consequence of degradation in land and water resources, compounded by competing claims on these resources by farmers, pastoralists and industry. As their incomes decline, their contributions to deforestation rise accordingly. There is an urgent need to promote the conservation and wise use of our forests at the grassroots level around the world.
While many leaders are still arguing about climate change, an international partnership has been formed to develop some solutions to the growing climate problem. Sacred Seedlings — a US-based nonprofit that is leading an effort to reforest the world, while promoting forest conservation and wildlife conservation — has developed one of the largest carbon-capture opportunities in the world today. It’s still expanding and is looking for grants, sponsorships and donors to breathe life into the projects as quickly as possible.
“Climate change is not an isolated issue,” said Sacred Seedlings founder Gary Chandler. “Many human factors are contributing to the problem and we must respond on many levels — including carbon capture.”
Unfortunately, that isn’t a silver-bullet solution to climate change, either; that’s why the Sacred Seedlings team developed a comprehensive approach to help mitigate carbon buildup and make critical ecosystems more resilient.
As part of the solution, the company is working with several NGOs in East Africa. So far, the company and its partners have agreements to conserve 86 million hectares of existing forests, while planting more than 100 million new trees on another 427 million hectares (more than 1.25 billion acres) in Tanzania alone — with plans to plant millions more trees in Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda and Uganda, according to Chandler.
“These forests will capture millions of tons of CO2 every year, while defending the regional ecosystem from collapse,” he said. “The scope already is large enough to make a meaningful impact regionally and globally.”
To help reverse the negative deforestation trend in East Africa, a number of other regional NGOs, government leaders, community leaders and others are partnering with Sacred Seedlings to assure sustainability in the region for human and wildlife populations. These plans include:
- Mt. Kilimanjaro Project. An integrated reforestation, conservation and community education program, by the Mellowswan Foundation Africa-Tanzania. This project will help us battle climate change, while promoting wildlife conservation, sustainable agriculture and a sustainable watershed.
- Mt. Kenya Project. An integrated reforestation, conservation and community education campaign by the Megabridge Foundation. The foundation will establish several tree nurseries, which will provide seedlings for reforestation through the planting of at least one million indigenous and agroforestry seedlings each year in the region by community members. The goal is to provide education and help the indigenous communities (children and adults) understand the importance of forests and local wildlife. In addition, due to massive escalation in the rate of poaching of elephants and other wild animals, we also are conducting a Community-Based Elephant Conservation Project through mobile film programs in schools and communities.
- Tsavo East National Park Project. This includes reforestation, wildlife conservation, anti-poaching patrols, sustainable agriculture, community education and more by YouthLink and many other organizations. They will plant 3.5 million indigenous trees over two years. We also will promote the use of bees to deter crop-raiding elephants. More than 30,000 students, community forests keepers, loggers, farmer’s associations, landowners, ranchers and community residents will participate in wildlife conservation and habitat restoration activities. We also will conserve more than 15,000 hectares outside the Park.
- Tanzania National Economic Development Project. An integrated reforestation, conservation and community education campaign across the entire nation of Tanzania by the Mellowswan Foundation. The plan includes 426,889,704 hectares in all six regions and 55 districts of the nation. The government will commit another 81,986,475 hectares for conservation of existing forests. The project also will include aquaculture, beekeeping, agro-forestry, ecotourism, conferences, training, awards and community education.
Forest conservation and reforestation are part of the answer to many of our most pressing sustainability challenges. This will be an international showcase for our sponsors and will pay dividends on many levels forever.