As of September 2022, TreeSisters and our community have funded over 26 million trees in the tropics. Try to visualise 26 million trees! Roots from the mangrove trees reaching into the water in Madagascar branches laden with fruit from the native forest garden in the Amazon, jaguars pacing through the forest corridors of the Atlantic Rainforest, and green canopy cover spreading across the slopes of Mt Kenya.
When we think about the trees growing in our projects, we imagine their majestic presence, their ability to draw carbon from our atmosphere, their impact on rainfall and the cool shade their shadows cast beneath them. But the trees are only one of the elements of our reforestation work. There is a significant positive impact on human life too!
At TreeSisters, we pride ourselves on working with our planting partners to ensure our projects involve and benefit local communities. We extensively vet and work to ensure that when we fund the planting of tropical trees, they directly and immediately benefit the people most affected by our work and climate change.
Below we look at just four of the many social impacts of our reforestation projects which you have helped to create through your monthly donations to TreeSisters!
Funding Tree Projects Creates Livelihoods and Economic Independence for Whole Communities
Community members or small-holder farmers are often both the implementers of our reforestation partners' work and the beneficiaries. Project employees make a regular income. Women workers sometimes receive an income for the first time in their lives.
We have two projects in Madagascar with our planting partner Eden.
One plants mangrove trees, and the other funds dry deciduous trees. The island of Madagascar faces many challenges, including whole villages enslaved to fish barons. Fish barons are boat and fishing net owners who loan out their vessels in return for a specific yield. If these yields are not met, the fishermen and women are put into "debt" – permanently and often with devastating consequences.
Your funding has directly helped buy a community boat, removing the need to rent from fish barons. Community members are employed to grow and plant saplings on vast tracts of land. Now 60% to 70% of their workers are women enabling them to lift themselves from debt and put their children through school.
"The number one reason I'm part of the project was to finish sending my children to school. I never had a paid job before. Before, we were planting rice for subsistence. It makes me happy to go planting and see the trees coming back."
Community member Zachir is a tree planter with nine children. You can read more about these projects here and here.
Our Projects Support Indigenous and Original Peoples
Original Peoples have managed forests for millennia through their strong cultural heritage, high dependency on forests for their livelihood, and alignment with nature's spiritual value. However, Western overconsumption and the economic interest in these areas have pushed indigenous communities to live on the edge of settlements and towns. They often fight loggers, governments, agriculture and infrastructure to protect their lands.
Working with and centring local communities and Original Peoples is paramount to TreeSisters. It's something that sets us apart from the many tree-planting organisations out there.
In our project with Aquaverde and the Ashaninka in the State of Acre, Brazil, the Ashaninka people lead the project to create a forest of 10 million native fruit trees over ten years. It will provide sustainable and nutritious food for over 1,000 indigenous people and non-indigenous locals living in Marechal Thaumaturgo, as well as revenue for the welfare of the indigenous community. By appreciating these communities' deeper connection and knowledge of these areas, we can ensure the experts are leading the efforts and reaping the rewards. You can read more about this project here.
We Ensure That Our Tree Projects Support and Lift Women
Women face disproportionate impacts from climate change due to underlying socioeconomic, political, and legal barriers. Through our projects, we aim to work with partners that encourage women to participate in development and decision-making. We look for projects that seek to employ women without discrimination and encourage women to take leadership roles.
Our project in Kenya, with planting partner International Tree Foundation (ITF), aims to restore the forests of Mt. Kenya. This project places women as "green agents of change" and at the heart of the reforestation efforts.
At least 80% of the community members helping and working on this project are women. Planting partner, ITF work alongside local organisations to provide women with the necessary training and support. And workshops on gender equality for both men and women are provided. You can read more about this project here.
What We Are Connected To, We Will Protect
You can often hear TreeSisters speak about the importance of a connection to nature. This is based on the understanding that we are nature, not separate from it. Scientific evidence now indicates that connecting with nature positively impacts our mind and body and leads us to act in more environmentally friendly ways. Simply put, by increasing nature connection, we can increase nature protection. This nature connection is crucial when connecting local communities to the planting projects we fund.
In Nepal, we work with Eden to regrow and protect the vibrant lowland tropical forests in the Terai region. Villagers, particularly women, are employed to grow, plant and guard the regrowing forest— a vital element to successful reforestation.
Encouraging participation and respecting the needs of the communities living in or near the reforestation project is crucial to ensure the permanence of the trees. When reforestation helps relieve poverty, people build a different relationship with trees, they value the regrown trees and become stewards of their forest. Win/Win.
These are just some of the direct and indirect benefits of your donations to communities worldwide, thanks to the generous contributions from our supporters and network. If you would like to donate to TreeSisters, you can do a one-off or set up a monthly donation to TreeSisters by visiting our Give Page. Thank you.