Since humans started cutting down forests, we’ve lost approximately 46% of all trees1.
17% of the Amazon rainforest has been cut down in the last 50 years alone2 and places such as Ethiopia has lost 98% of its forested areas3.
These are incredible statistics when you think about it. Even more so when you realise the significance that forests have on our environment, the climate and ecosystems large and small – 80% of land animals and plants are found in forest environments4.
Eden Reforestation Projects aim to reverse this loss with sustainable tree planting that employs and empowers local communities.
Header image courtesy of Eden Reforestation Projects work on the mangrove forests in Indonesia.
What are reforestation projects?
We of course know the destruction of woodlands and forests as deforestation.
Deforestation often occurs in high poverty, underdeveloped areas, particularly around the tropical and sub-tropical regions.
The systematic dismantling of trees in these vulnerable areas has major impacts, including increased flood risk, soil erosion, desertification, biodiversity loss and climate change impacts.
Simply put, reforestation is the opposite of deforestation.
Reforestation projects aim to give the trees back to the land where they occurred previously. It’s the process of restocking trees, sometimes via planting seeds, young saplings or even leaving areas to naturally rewild, where they’ve been unsustainable cut down and lost.
As forests are often made up of numerous tree species and plant communities, it’s important for projects to plant different species of those which are native.
The reforestation projects often work in under-privileged and under-funded areas. According to Eden Projects, for a reforestation project to be successful and sustainable over the long term, there are two important elements:
- The local community must be involved and the benefits from actions must be clear
- Properly funded
Who are Eden Reforestation Projects?
Eden Reforestation Projects is a non-profit organisation who restore forests around the world by hiring local people in impoverished areas to plant native tree species.
By working directly with villages and local communities, Eden provides work as well as the education and tools to plant, grow and protect millions of trees.
So far to date (at the time of writing in April 2021), Eden Projects have planted over 583 million trees at 232 project sites in 8 countries, creating almost 6 million workdays for local people in the process.
The vision of Eden’s global restoration network is to create livelihoods for millions of people by empowering them to not just restore forests but become guardians and protectors over the long term.
The founder and president of Eden Reforestation Projects is Dr Stephen Fitch. It all started in 2005 when Dr Fitch was invited by then Ethiopian Prime Minister, Hailemariam Desalegn, to take over an abandoned nursery and forest restoration project.
Since then, Eden has developed a successful and sustainable model of ’employ-to-plant’ and established new projects in multiple countries across the world.
Where does the Eden Project plant trees?
Eden’s mission to restore forest landscapes and create work for people living in extreme poverty. This means their projects are based in developing countries who face both employment and environmental problems.
Since the beginnings in Ethiopia in 2005, the Eden Project now works in 8 countries:
Madagascar (since 2007)
A lot of the funding and reforestation work goes into Madagascan forest, in particular their unique mangrove forests.
Being a large island, Madagascar is home to a high number of rare and unique species. 90% of Madagascar’s forest has been lost, which has devastated not just the land, but biodiversity, aquatic ecosystems and local economies.
Now, an average of 14 million trees are planted in Madagascar every month.
Haiti (since 2010)
Just 2% of the original Haitian forests remain but there’s large scale deforestation still occurring. Political unrest and extreme weather events don’t help the cause.
To date, Eden have planted more than 2 million trees in Haiti and employed 300 local farmers.
Nepal (since 2015)
Work by Eden with local employees close by to the Indian border have had startling results. In 2015, around 400,000 seedlings were planted which have flourished thanks to the ideal tree growing climatic conditions.
It’s also kickstarted a natural regenerative process around the tree planting sites, which is brilliant to see.
Indonesia (since 2017)
Indonesia is a nation made up of an astonishing 17,000 islands. It’s also one of the most biodiverse nations and home to 23% of the world’s mangrove forests. In the last 50 years, 40% of these mangroves have been lost to deforestation.
Similar to the tree planting operations in Madagascar, Eden Projects is working hard to restore these important mangrove forests. Between 2017 and the end of 2020, more than 30 million trees have been planted.
Mozambique (since 2018)
Commercial logging, conversion to farmland and production of firewood and charcoal have devastated Mozambique’s forests.
Eden have been working with local communities to reinstate the lost mangrove forests along the coast near the Maputo region. Around 20 million mangrove trees have now been planted.
Kenya (since 2020)
Kenya is famous for its wild terrain and rich biodiversity, but today only 7% of the country is tree covered.
Eden has been working with the Kijabe Forest Trust and David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust to restore the sub-tropical Afromontane ecosystems as well as coastal habitats and mangrove forests.
Central America – Honduras and Nicaragua (since 2020)
Central America is another biodiversity hotspot with a wide range of ecosystems. Unfortunately, these are being destroyed by wide-ranging deforestation.
Eden is planning large scale reforestation of agroforestry programmes as well as mangrove areas. You can read more about sustainable agroforestry here.
How much does reforestation cost?
Eden Projects state that roughly 75% of all donations go straight to the mission and tree planting programme. The remaining quarter is used for fundraising and administrative costs.
Generally speaking, it costs $0.10 to plant and protect a tree. However, this cost to plant a tree varies from nation to nation.
For example, in Haiti and Indonesia it costs $0.15 per tree. In Nepal it is $0.20 per tree.
In Honduras, Nicaragua, Kenya, Madagascar and Mozambique it costs $0.10 to plant a tree.
This cost doesn’t just cover the actual planting of a seed or sapling. It also covers the nursery costs, transportation, guarding and weeding to give the trees the best chance of growing successfully.
The reason the prices are so cheap is thanks to Eden Projects unique model.
Alongside paying a fair wage to local employees, the workers collect seeds and buds from nearby remnant forests.
When needed, Eden will purchase seeds from local sources but most of the time this isn’t needed due to the plentiful supply.
Is Eden Reforestation Legit?
Eden Reforestation Projects are now seen as one of the largest forest restoration and tree planting organisations in the world.
Eden are very much a legitimate organisation and a registered charity in the US.
They are used as the tree planting partner by many environmentally minded companies, including Ecosia the search engine, 8 Billion Trees and Ecologi, who help individuals and businesses to reach not just carbon neutral, but climate positive levels. Ecologi is where I first heard about Eden Projects.
Being a US-based charity, they are also regulated and evaluated. Charity Navigator, one of the largest assessors of charities, gives Eden Reforestation a 3 out of 4 star rating with a score of 81 out of 100.
According to their latest financial statement, Eden Projects received almost $4.5m of total support in 2019. Of this, $2m was spent on reforestation and $1.2m on salaries and benefits, which is includes just short for $700k for the program salaries and $376k to the company directors.
Eden Reforestation and Bezos Earth Fund?
In February 2020, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos announced the launch of the Bezos Earth Fund.
This fund would be a $10 billion pot, all to be given away in grants to eco-friendly organisations, scientists and activist groups to combat climate change.
Think what you may about Bezos and Amazon (I personally am not part of the Amazon affiliate network and have blocked their advertising on this website), but this is a fantastic initiative.
At the end of 2020, it was announced that 16 environmental organisations would be receiving around $791 million of the Bezos Earth Fund.
One of these organisations was Eden Reforestation Projects would received a grant of $5 million. Eden stated that this funding would be used to plant a minimum of 35 million trees and help scale their leadership and tree production systems in Madagascar, Mozambique and Kenya.
Is Eden involved in UK reforestation projects?
No Eden Reforestation Projects isn’t involved in any UK tree planting projects. Their commitment to planting trees and alleviating poverty means they work mainly in Africa, Central America and South East Asia.
There are many tree planting organisations in the UK who are helping to restore forests. It’s estimated the UK needs to triple its tree cover before 2050 to help meet carbon and environmental targets.
Organisations such as Carbon Footprint, Trees for Cities, City of Trees, Forestry Commission and the Woodland Trust all plant trees in the UK.
You can find more information about Eden Reforestation Projects, their work and how to donate to them on their website https://edenprojects.org/
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