Green Do-Gooders: ReTree International Gets To The Root Of The Issue

Students receive planting instructions at Mpunguti School in Bujest village, Masoko Ward, Tanzania (Source: ReTree International)

Students receive planting instructions at Mpunguti School in Bujest village, Masoko Ward, Tanzania (Source: ReTree International)

Think about this for a moment: Each and every year, humanity loses enough trees to cover Panama due to deforestation. While Panama is hardly considered a large country, multiplying the collective cost of such activity over a number of years quickly yields disturbing results. Especially when you consider this reality: While forests currently cover only 30% of land on Earth, just the tropical rainforests alone house 50-90% of plant and animal species.

Whether forests are cleared for cash cropping and logging or feeding the family of a rural farmer, the loss of these valuable ecosystems is proving disastrous for the sustainability of our planet. Without replanting efforts or a slowing of clear cutting, it will only take 117 years to leave an area the size of the United States barren.

Enter ReTree International—an Oregon non-profit that re-covers idle lands with native trees and works to counteract the negative effects of deforestation—Negative effects such as desertification and destruction of arable lands, loss of biodiversity, decreased air quality, increased global temperatures, flooding, landslides, and possibly more intense and frequent climatic disruption (i.e. hurricanes, etc.).

One focus of ReTree International is to preserve our local forests. They have worked for 36 years to replant Oregon and the Northwest’s world-renowned forests, including the Mt. Hood National Forest. But they also have the big picture in mind. ReTree International is constantly organizing tree plantings in countries all over the world, many times replenishing stripped lands in developing countries (where forested land often falls victim to clear-cutting for timber, cattle grazing and cash crops) with native tree species. Additionally, ReTree International supports forestry research and funds scholarships for those interested in working the field.

The other key aspect of ReTree’s work is involving the youth of a community in their initiatives. ReTree believes active participation by youth in growing and planting seedlings intensifies feelings of ownership for their land and provides hands-on education on why maintaining healthy forests is important for both their home community and the global community at-large. For instance, in Tanzania, which lost 15% of its forest cover between 1990 and 2005,  ReTree International is partnering with cooperatives set up by Africa Bridge (another Oregon non-profit, which seeks to uplift Tanzanian children and communities out of poverty) to plant 5000 seedlings currently being cared for by children in communities in the Isongole Ward.

So what can you and your business do to stop deforestation? Well, there is the obvious. Use less paper. Buy products with reduced and recycled packaging. These are great reduction strategies if employed by the masses. But why not take it a step further and get proactive about replenishing the lands that have already been ravaged? After reading this post, you’ve got the name of a great organization that operates in your own backyard—so go get em’ green tiger!

For more information on ReTree International and their work, please visit: http://www.retreeintl.org

For more information on Africa Bridge, visit: http://www.africabridge.org. If you live in Portland, join us on Saturday, August 29th to support Africa Bridge’s efforts at the Africa Bridge Harvest Gala featuring Founder Barry Childs, Lisa MacCallum, Managing Director of the Nike Foundation and performances by Obo Addy and Sebe Kan. Buy tickets today!

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