We must come together to create a tree-filled future

It was encouraging to read of the ‘mind-blowing’ potential of planting trees in tackling climate change (Tree planting 'has mind-blowing potential' to tackle climate crisis, 4 July).

While the carbon-catching benefits of trees have long been known, trees have not been seen as a formidable solution to the climate crisis until now. Finally, it feels as though there is some optimism in the fight against climate change and a real and affordable solution is on the table. With the world’s poorest people already feeling the worst effects of climate change, a fast response is vital. Whether world leaders, governments and communities act on this recent report is another question.

The mission of reforestation must be a worldwide effort and one that we can all take part in – however big or small. Ripple Effect already has an active role. Agroforestry, tree planting and tackling environmental degradation has been a key part of our approach in rural Africa for over 30 years. It is an approach which enables families to sustainably feed themselves and protects the local environment.

However, what encourages me most is when I see communities themselves playing an active role in reforestation. In Wolayita, Ethiopia, 120 members of the local community came together to regenerate eight hectares of land, roughly 11 football pitches. Ripple Effect supported them, but it was the community’s driving force and commitment to the project which made it a success. Individuals personally financed the project and volunteered their time to restore the land; planting seedlings, tilling the earth and building trenches to conserve rainwater and rejuvenate the soil. Over the last two years they have planted 5000 trees and 1200 grass cuttings; the once destitute area of land has been transformed and the local ecosystem is starting to thrive because of it.

Of course, this is just a small-scale project. Billions, rather than thousands, of trees will need to be planted globally to capture the amount of carbon needed to slow climate change. Nevertheless, if we can all harness this community spirit and put the needs of the planet first, and if organisations like Ripple Effect can secure more funding to deliver environmental projects, then we might actually make this tree-filled vision a reality.

Donald Mavunduse,
Director of International Operations at Ripple Effect