Monday, June 8, 2009

Plant a tree and transform a life

Scott Sabin, Executive Director of Plant With Purpose, is featured on today. Read his article to find out why planting trees does more than just reduce your carbon footprint:

Scott Sabin: Stop the carbon footprints

While talk of carbon trading is all the buzz these days, I have to wonder, can tree planting have a greater impact than merely soothing our guilty, carbon consuming consciences?

For many of the world’s poorest people, their very survival is contingent on the health of their environment. Of course the same applies to us, but in a much more removed way. It’s easy to forget that our bottled water actually comes from a stream or our prepackaged food may actually have been grown in this thing called soil.

Around the world, small farmers, desperate to feed their families, are forced to cut down large areas of forested land, clearing it for farming or to sell as fuel wood. The resulting erosion and loss of soil fertility leaves entire hillsides desolate and barren, entrenching poor farmers in a vicious cycle of poverty and deforestation.

For these desperate farmers, their environmental impact is literally drying up the streams that sustain them, eroding the hillsides they farm for sustenance, and threatening their very survival. Now. Not in twenty years when more ice caps melt and sea levels rise, but now.

We all know trees play an important part in reducing global warming, absorbing harmful CO2 and releasing life-giving oxygen, but the full benefits of trees go much deeper. Trees’ root systems provide living barriers that prevent soil erosion, replenish the water table, and restore desolate, unproductive lands.

To the affluent city-dweller, these may sound like fringe benefits, but to a rural farmer, completely dependent on the land for survival, a tree can be the difference between life and death, the difference between hope and despair, thriving and barely squeaking by, a better future for their children and a life entrenched in a vicious cycle of extreme poverty and hunger.

When trees are planted alongside crops-a technique called agroforestry-farmers experience all the benefits of trees while also providing nutritious foods and a sustainable income for their families. For example, Floresta works with farmers to utilize agroforestry and sustainable farming techniques, empowering them to overcome poverty, provide for their families, live in dignity, and fulfill their greatest dream of all-leaving the world a better place for their children.

So for me, the excitement of planting trees results when I can see how caring for the environment actually improves the lives of the rural poor: it’s fighting global warming plus reducing poverty plus restoring environments plus transforming lives. All while leaving the world a better place for our own children as well.

For those hungry to reduce their carbon footprint and do something to alleviate poverty in the world, remember that offsetting our own carbon footprint by planting trees can actually transform the life of a rural farmer. Today.

So plant a tree and transform a life.

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