Guest Post: Eden Reforestation Project

by Steve Fitch on April 13th, 2011

Big Breakthroughs!

People are looking for various forms of big breakthroughs that will come along and transform our lives, culture and world. The good news is, even though big breakthroughs are fairly rare, they do actually show up from time to time and make life better for all of us. Some world changing breakthroughs, like the furloughed plow, are incredibly simple. The furloughed plow helped to double agricultural production a few centuries ago and we are the fatter for it. Who would have ever thought that dragging a curved chunk of metal behind a cow would make such a huge difference? Well, someone did.

Thank you someone!

Other breakthroughs are so complex that they hardly seem possible, even in comic books. Take safe and clean fusion energy as an example. We know it works great on the sun and on stars. However, when it comes to putting fusion energy into practice on earth, even comic book characters can’t get it to work right. Think about it. Not even Dr. Octavious in Spiderman II (the movie) could get his mechanical hands and arms around the fusion problem. So, as a radioactive breakthrough in his own right Spiderman had to go to work and save the world along with Mary Jane Watson from the destructive chain reaction caused by that mad genius Dr. O and his mini sun.

Thank you Peter Parker!

And now back to reality. There are quite a few problems the world is grappling with these days that appear to operate beyond the reach of a modern breakthrough. Some of the seemingly unsolvable problems we are facing in the world include extreme poverty, modern slavery, and widespread environmental destruction.

Believe it or not, the three issues mentioned above are frequently interconnected.
For the past six years, Eden Reforestation Projects has been working on resolving the problems by applying one creative and simple solution. Eden’s mission statement is “Poverty and Oppression Reduction Through Environmental Stewardship.” First, let’s take a look at the problem and then at the breakthrough solution.
The Interconnectivity Cause: All over the world, massive sections of tropical forest have been cut down. In the last fifty to sixty years, more than half of the world’s forests have disappeared. Most people think that mega lumber companies are the culprits behind the destruction of the world’s forests, and in some cases this view is accurate. However, in most of Africa and Asia the forests are being cut down one tree at a time by tens of millions of desperately poor women. These women are trying to make the equivalent of a few dollars per week by turning the trees into charcoal. The charcoal is then sold to nearby villages and towns where it is used for cooking food and warming homes. The problem is, after the forests are gone the soil begins to erode and/or lose its nutrients. In addition, the water tables begin to drop, causing wells to dry up because the forest, which acts like a sponge, is no longer around to absorb heavy rainfall and gradually channel all the tropical rain into the underground aquifers, streams and rivers. Tragically, this slow but sure deforestation process has become one of the major causes behind the demise of small plot farms in impoverished third world nations. And that is just the start of the crisis.

  • Millions of failed African farmers and their families are now moving to cities to look for jobs.
  • Moving to the cities is not a good solution because there is already 50% unemployment and 25% underemployment in most African cities.
  • When they can’t find a job in the city, many of these former farmers are turning to acts of desperation and selling themselves or their children into labor or sex slavery.

In summary, environmental destruction leads to failed farms, and failed farms are increasingly leading to acts of desperation.
The Interconnectivity Solution:

Question #1: What if the desperately poor were hired to replant trees instead of cutting the forest down?

Answer: Eden currently employs over 3,500 eco-workers in Ethiopia and Madagascar who are actively healing their own natural environment.

Question #2: What if these national eco-workers were empowered to continue to be farmers and fishermen even as they receive a life changing fair wage that took them and their families out of the at risk category?

Answer: Hundreds of Eden workers are now eating healthy meals, discarding their clothing rags for decent apparel, sending their children to school, going to the doctor when they are sick, and some of them are even adopting abandoned children. All of the above is possible because they have a job.

Question #3: What if the healing of local environments also contributed to the healing of the local farms?

Answer: In Madagascar the planting of millions of new mangrove trees has already reduced coastal erosion and improved local fishing. (Mangroves are a type of tree that grows in coastal estuary systems. They provide coastal erosion control and act as a nursery for baby fish.) After planting over seven million trees in Ethiopia the flooding at the Udo Escarpment has stopped, the farming in the has improved, the wild animal life is returning, and even the springs that dried up years ago are in the early stages of bubbling up again.

Question #4: What if all of this work was cost effective:

Answer: Eden guarantees that for every twenty dollars donated we will plant a minimum of 200 trees, and we will hire a worker for a minimum of three days of life changing labor, and we will continue to support projects that bring freedom to oppressed people. Our hope and prayers is that a growing number of people will see that they can be part of a true breakthrough in our generation. We can heal the environment, we can reduce extreme poverty, and we can break the bonds of oppression.

If you want to watch how environmental issues are connected click HERE.

If you would like to join the Eden League, click HERE

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