For communities living in the arid Sahel the effects of conventional farming and over-grazing have degraded the soils on which families depend for subsistence. Towns along a thousand-kilometre trade corridor that cuts through the countries of Senegal, Mali and Burkina Faso serve as mini-trade hubs for large clusters of villages. The programme aims to train communities to establish forest gardens that will create a green barrier to the encroaching Sahara Desert, while at the same time generate livelihoods for people living on less than a dollar per day.
The countries of Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda and Burundi are comprised of hundreds of distinct ethnic groups who practice subsistence and cash crop farming, often raising livestock to generate additional income. Along major regional trade routes there is intense population pressure on natural resources, making this region a high priority for implementing the forest garden approach. The goal is to alleviate poverty in the rural and peri-urban farming communities that border these routes. The focus is on the northern Tanzania corridor from Dar-es-Salaam to Arusha where communities will plant forest gardens that provide lucrative market opportunities, improve household access to fruit and vegetables, and produce fodder for livestock and bees.
Bare mountains across Honduras and Nicaragua have little capacity to trap and store water, leaving them vulnerable to storms and hurricanes. Vital springs on the sides of these mountains dry up each year, plaguing the region with water shortages. Through farmer associations and networks of communities, the organisation works to return tree cover to the degraded mountainsides of these two countries by adding shade and diversity to coffee and cocoa plantations. Trees for the Future also trains smallholder livestock farmers to apply the forest garden approach in producing animal forage; and trains large livestock owners to grow higher-quality forage and protect pastures and waterways from further degradation.
In addition to these three regional programmes, the organisation supports tree planting in seven other countries: Ghana, India, Cameroon, Haiti, the Philippines, Ethiopia and Brazil. Although the factors leading to deforestation, food insecurity and poverty are similar in each of these countries, the design and scale of the forest gardens differ. Each forest garden is designed to achieve maximum social, health and environmental benefits based on the community’s culture, market needs, land availability and severity of land degradation.