Agroforestry nonprofit Trees for the Future (TREES) and the Arbor Day Foundation are joining forces to plant 3 million trees in Senegal, Chad, and Mali this year as part of a global effort to establish Africa’s Great Green Wall.
“Forests and lush landscapes are disappearing as unsustainable land use and climate change impacts continue to reshape our planet,” says Trees for the Future Director of Programs Brandy Lellou. “But with our proven solution for land restoration and exciting collaborations with partners like Arbor Day Foundation and the Great Green Wall, there is reason to be optimistic.”
TREES is an agroforestry nonprofit that trains farmers in a technique called the Forest Garden Approach. The average one-acre Forest Garden is home to more than 2,500 trees and dozens of species of fruit and vegetable crops and marketable products. The average farmer sees a 400% increase in income and more than a 500% increase in access to nutrients. Since 1989, TREES has helped more than 200,000 people and planted more than 215 million trees, many of which are planted by Forest Garden farmers in sub-Saharan Africa.
The Arbor Day Foundation is the largest nonprofit membership organization dedicated to planting trees. Working with individuals and partner organizations, they’ve planted 350 million trees since 1972.
The Great Green Wall is a global initiative to stop desertification in Africa’s Sahel region due to overgrazing, deforestation, climate impacts, destructive agriculture practices, and the encroaching Sahara Desert. The goal is to restore 100 million hectares of degraded land with trees and plants while also improving lives and strengthening economies.
“The Great Green Wall’s new vision is not actually a wall of trees, but rather a mosaic of planted landscapes across the Sahel. Trees for the Future’s contribution will be trees planted within sustainable Forest Gardens that are not only reforesting a rapidly degrading region but also providing nutrient-rich food and income opportunities for farmers and their communities,” Lellou says. “The trees also have higher survival rates because the farmers have a vested interest in their success. The farmer takes care of the trees and, in return, the trees take care of both the farmer and the land.”
The three million trees are made possible through the Arbor Day Foundation’s wide-reaching Reforestation Program. One million trees were planted in Senegal in 2020, and an additional one million will be planted in Senegal in 2021. The other one million trees will be split evenly between Chad and Mali. The funding is made possible in part by #TeamTrees; a global movement launched in 2019 to encourage the public to plant more trees.
“Our mission is to inspire people to plant, nurture, and celebrate trees, and Trees for the Future is doing just that,” says Dan Lambe, president of the Arbor Day Foundation. “We’re proud to be a part of such an important and large-scale effort to plant trees in the Sahel and thank all of our partners for enabling us to contribute to sustainable reforestation.”
“Once it’s completed, the Great Green Wall will be the largest natural structure on the planet,” says Elvis Tangem, Great Green Wall Initiative Coordinator. “It’s a massive undertaking, but the dedication and teamwork of organizations like Trees for the Future and the Arbor Day Foundation will ultimately make it a reality.”
In total, TREES will be contributing 13 million trees to the Great Green Wall in 2021. More than 12,000 farming families in Senegal, Chad, and Mali will be planting the trees on their land, establishing land-changing and life-changing Forest Gardens.