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How long does environmental restoration take?

March 12, 2019

Plant With Purpose is deeply committed to environmental restoration. This dream is shared among our partners in eight different countries. Jah Cho envisions future generations being able to reap the benefit of a restored forests. Isaias imagines that his community of Ojo de Agua as a rejuvenated, green landscape.

But that raises a great question: how long does it take to make this vision a reality?

The short answer: 7-12 years.

When Plant With Purpose works in a community, the partnership typically lasts between 7-12 years. In that amount of time, community members expand forests, manage regeneration, and actively learn and pass on sustainable farming knowledge.

After about a decade has gone by, the community is ready for graduation. This doesn’t mark the end of sustainable practices by any means, but it does mean the community will need less input from outside.

After a decade of partnership, we consistently see an increase in vegetation and an improvement in soil quality. Increasingly, we also hear reports from farmers that the local climate has cooled, that the attitudes of community members have shifted, and that people feel equipped to further improve their land.

Why such a wide range of 7-12 years? Well, each community is influenced by a variety of factors. For example, geography and the distance to roads and markets presents unique challenges and opportunities. Political challenges or conflict create other challenges.

Depending on their circumstances, our partners may see improvement as soon as three years in.

Alex has been a Plant With Purpose member for years.

Alex has been a Plant With Purpose partner for years.

The long answer: it never ends.

Plant With Purpose goes into new communities with an exit plan. We imagine that in time, each community will be able to independently carry on the work of environmental restoration and sustainability.

That said, the end of our organization’s direct input does not mark the end of restoration. Instead it means that the community will pass forward its knowledge and motivation while continuing to protect and preserve its resources.

Constant learning and improving is a lifelong commitment. New challenges and threats may emerge for future generations moving forward, but with the tools and knowledge passed onward, they will be ready to rise to these challenges.

Sustainability is not a one time action with an end date.

Sustainability is not a one-time action with an end date.

The better answer: restoration is a way of life.

It serves us well to think of restoration as a never-ending process. This goes hand-in-hand with both a Christian perspective on sustainability, and the story of the Gospel. While resurrection refers to a specific event, it also refers to the constant process of Christ making all things new.

Environmental restoration is one dimension of this process. Our inner lives aren’t the only things being redeemed and restored; all of Creation is being called back toward its Maker.

Christ invites his followers to participate in this process. Even the smallest act of bringing healing to the world fits in to the grand story of restoration. That may mean speaking words of life. It may mean planting a seed. It may mean committing more deeply to what is in front of you today.

Plant With Purpose’s partners commit to practicing restoration throughout their lives. They benefit greatly from sustained support. Want to help equip them on a monthly basis? Learn more about becoming a Purpose Partner.


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