Trees for the Future doesn’t just plant trees for their ecological benefits, but to benefit people in need. Technically speaking, we are an agroforestry charity. Agroforestry intentionally combines agriculture and forestry to create integrated and sustainable land-use systems. Trees and shrubs are planted near crops and/or livestock, to the benefit of all.
By integrating farming, animals, people and trees in the same space, we achieve improved soil quality, higher crop yields, and improved standards of living. We believe strongly that people must know the value of agroforestry and its benefit to them if they are to withstand pressure from developers or others who wish to strip trees from an area. Our role is to train communities in the latest agroforestry techniques, and to help spread and promote them.
Agroforestry is sometimes referred to as “trees on farms.” It’s actually much more than that. Agroforestry techniques are tailored to the needs of the community. In communal forests, tree-planting programs focus on large-scale reforestation and the development of non-timber forest products. In agricultural fields, fast-growing multipurpose tree species are integrated into the agricultural system to serve as windbreaks, firebreaks, woodlots, or living fences; as part of contour planting for erosion control; and as “alleys” that improve fertility in the adjacent soil. Similar techniques have been practiced around the world for thousands of years, and are especially effective in the developing world.
“We have given people the ability to build their own institutions so that we don’t have some day in the future, some logging company coming back in there, pushing people around, trying to force them off their land, because now they have some growing businesses and some pride in what they are doing and a lot of confidence in themselves. This makes the village life continue.”