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Community-Led Reforestation

For over 35 years, Plant With Purpose has empowered local organizations and community leaders to build a localized movement of rural communities who are reforesting and replenishing watersheds around the world. We are planting more than eight million trees each year, now approaching 50 million total trees.

The movement is growing. Farmers, mothers, fathers, youth, and elders are reforesting the watersheds in which they live and work. As trees are planted, people understand the value of trees for their own livelihoods and local environment.

The impact is real and measurable. Tree cover is increasing or stable in all of the watersheds where we work, growing at a global average of .39% per year. Over three years, that is 2.7% greater than national trends representing 2.2 million acres of land protected or restored.

Trees Planted

Burundi - Nyakazu

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Sep 2004
Aug 2019

Thailand – Hoi Lu

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Apr 2012
Mar 2020

How Do We Grow Trees?

Plant With Purpose promotes a wide range of techniques for growing trees. All are applied strategically within a watershed and lead to a maximum impact on landscape restoration, poverty alleviation, and strong community ownership.

Tree growing

We mobilize communities to plant trees for reforestation. Most of our resources go into training and equipping local communities who then cultivate seedlings and grow trees, focusing on the right tree in the right place. This is always done within a watershed with a heavy focus on landscape restoration.

Some examples of techniques for reforestation by growing trees with a watershed restoration focus include living fences, living barriers, agroforestry, woodlots, riparian zone plantings, and occasional larger scale plantations.

Farmer Managed Natural Regeneration (FMNR)

In most places, there are already tree roots beneath the soil. Tony Rinaudo, father of FMNR, called this the “underground forest.” If communities can manage grazing and stop unnecessary burning, these trees that are already within the soil can grow. The advantages of this method are straightforward. Trees tend to grow faster, and the species that grow naturally are already well adapted to local conditions and will thrive.

(Photo credit: World Vision Australia)

Agroforestry

A majority of trees planted by Plant With Purpose partner communities are planted within complex agroforestry systems. Agroforestry simply incorporates trees onto farmland so that crops can benefit. We also emphasize diversity and ecosystem resilience. A healthy farm is well integrated with its surrounding ecosystem. Our long-term plan for building resilient watersheds requires a critical mass of farms within a watershed to apply agroforestry methods.

Community forestry

Some Plant With Purpose communities take a community forestry approach to reforestation. Communities set up environmental networks for cooperation across a region and map out areas dedicated to agriculture, dedicated forests, and other land uses. This allows local communities to manage the land according to its planned use, which is particularly important when needing to show that community members are part of the solution and not part of the problem.

Native seed collection

Plant With Purpose partner families plant native species at almost twice the rate (50%) of the comparison groups (27%). We train communities on native seed collection and cultivation. This often leads to innovation as many native species are not commonly studied or grown in commercial nurseries. Plant With Purpose partner families are learning how to cultivate and grow the species that are found locally in the remote, rural communities where they live.

Beyond trees

While reforestation and tree growing are key components of Plant With Purpose’s work, trees are not always the answer. Sometimes non-tree species have similar benefits and make the most sense for local ecological conditions. Grasses or shrubs may be a good solution. In other cases, we might suggest green manures or non-tree cover crops. Our watershed restoration work is adaptive and always focused on the right solution in the right place. However, when reporting on the number of trees grown, we will only count woody tree species.

Stories of Life Change

Select an image to read their story.

Valerie Foulkes

Strategic Initiatives Manager

Valerie Foulkes

Strategic Initiatives Manager
"A couple of years ago I visited Fonds-Verrettes, Haiti where I got to know some of our partner farmers. They told me about the terrible flooding and mudslides that used to happen in their area, because of the deforestation and the extreme steep hillsides where they live and farm. I was startled when I heard one of the farmers say, "But no one has died since we started planting trees.” That was the moment when I truly realized that the reforestation work we do here has life and death consequences for these farmers. And in the end, for us all."

Bradley Brandt

Senior Program Manager, Arbor Day Foundation

Bradley Brandt

Senior Program Manager, Arbor Day Foundation
“The Arbor Day Foundation sees trees as an important part of the solution for many global issues we face today including declining air and water quality, a changing climate, deforestation, and inequity. We have provided grant funding to Plant With Purpose since 2013, planting 264,000 trees in the Congo, Haiti, Mexico, Tanzania, Thailand and the Dominican Republic. We have a shared vision to use trees to improve economic resilience and empower local communities around the world. We are proud of our long-standing partnership and the impact we have made, and continue to make, together.”

Haika

Tanzania

Haika

Tanzania
“I believe that planting trees and taking care of the land is the best method of sustainable development and restoring the environment to its original condition at both a personal and country-wide level. If you had visited our area before, you would notice the environment was losing its quality as people randomly cut down trees, our water sources were depleted during the summer, there were bare lands with no trees and low soil fertility. Now, my community’s relationship with the environment has changed enormously as a result of Plant With Purpose’s activities. I personally plant about 150 trees annually around my farm area and as a group we plant about 1,800 to 2,500 trees annually in different areas including around water sources, institutions, and other areas in our village. This has been impactful to my life and community because through planting trees, we experience changes of water availability in our village and improved weather conditions.”

Measuring Impact

We count trees planted on a quarterly basis. We use a variety of methods to gather this information including self-reporting, supported by select location audit for verification. In some areas we also use external verification systems. Every three years, we also do a larger-scale impact evaluation using either a simple (aka naive) design or difference-in-differences (DID) methodology. Both approaches use random sampling. The DID approach uses a similar watershed where we do not work as a control group.

In addition to the community reported tree counts and impact evaluation surveys, we also rely on remote sensing tools to verify and validate reforestation efforts. We use NDVI, satellite imagery, MOD44B tree cover, % tree cover data, and other remote sensing data/tools to measure change in vegetation cover and tree cover in each watershed over time.

Global Tree Planting Partnerships

We are pleased to have been selected by several amazing global reforestation advocacy and development organizations as a partner for their tree planting initiatives.
Since 2021 we have partnered with One Tree Planted, planting 100,000 trees in the Cornillon watershed in Haiti, and 375,000 trees in Northern Thailand. Haiti is critically deforested, with environmental damage contributing heavily to poverty in that country. The hill tribe communities we work with in Thailand have demonstrated that, with careful stewardship, forests and families can thrive together. We are excited about the ongoing expansion of this partnership.
We are proud to be a tree planting partner for the sustainable clothing brand tentree. With a commitment to plant 10 trees for every item of clothing they sell, we have planted more than 240,000 trees on behalf of tentree and their customers around the world.
Since 2018 we have partnered with the Arbor Day Foundation to plant more than 260,000 trees in seven countries. We have worked together on initiatives including the large scale social media campaign, “Team Trees.”
Plant With Purpose is honored to be part of a remarkable cohort of locally-based organizations who have pledged to restore 100 million hectares of degraded land across Africa by 2030 as part of the AFR100 Initiative. Funded by an ambitious group of donors through TerraFund, these efforts will help mitigate and reverse the effects of climate change, which includes lower crop yields, erratic rainfall, and prolonged droughts that increasingly threatens the lives of millions of farmers, herders and even city dwellers across Africa.

Inquiries

Please contact me about partnership and funding opportunities to plant quantities of trees through Plant With Purpose or to discuss Carbon offsets.
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Frequently Asked Questions

Plant With Purpose's tree planting programs have a 60% survival rate over three years. This higher-than-usual rate can largely be attributed to our community-led approach, which fosters local-level caretaking of the trees after they have been planted.
Plant With Purpose does not limit its tree planting focus on planting a large quantity of trees, but on how trees serve an important role integrated into a broader ecosystem. Rather than focusing exclusively on planting a large amount of trees, incorporating local education on how trees benefit crops, ecosystems, and water sources helps ensure community members will continue to care for the tree throughout its life.
10¢ helps community members prepare their soil, 60¢ helps grow the trees in a nursery run by locals, 15¢ mobilizes our partners to plant the trees, and 15¢ helps with monitoring, maintaining, and reporting.
Plant With Purpose works with village agents and community leaders to engage citizen science, surveying participating tree planters in the community to help report on the quantity of trees planted. These numbers are then verified in audits and are further ascertained through remote sensing methods like NDVI.
We are currently engaged in growing trees on 880,000 hectares within 46 watersheds. By 2025, we will expand to cover 1.74 million hectares in 89 watersheds.
Plant With Purpose partners contribute to climate change mitigation by planting trees and practicing agriculture that strengthens two of nature's most powerful carbon sinks: forests and soil. Plant With Purpose also helps climate vulnerable communities adapt to the challenges of climate change through supporting crop growth and economic resilience.
Plant With Purpose works with village agents and community leaders to engage citizen science, surveying participating tree planters in the community to help report on the quantity of trees planted. These numbers are then verified in audits and are further ascertained through remote sensing methods like NDVI.
Yes. In our country programs, tree cover is increasing or stable in all of the watersheds where we work, increasing at a global average of 0.39% per year. This is a reversal from the global trend, where 0.51% of tree cover is lost every year.
Our faith motivates our work in every way, but one key belief is that the economic, environmental, and spiritual problems we seek to solve all result from broken relationships: between humans and God, creation, and one another. We believe that each person we work with has value, being made in the image of God, and we seek to uphold every person we work with as a partner, not a project.
About two-thirds of our participants are women, consistent across all of our country programs. This is reflective of the disproportionate amount of agricultural work women do around the world. In sub-Saharan Africa and the Caribbean, they produce up to 80 percent of basic foodstuffs. In Asia, they provide from 50 to 90 percent of the labour for rice cultivation. As more and more men migrate from rural areas in search of work, women bear a heavier burden. In some regions of Africa, 60 percent of households are now headed by women. Many of our partners are from indigenous communities that are often excluded from society or marginalized due to their race. In Thailand we only partner with “hilltribes” - highly marginalized ethnic minorities that often have tenuous rights to the land. In Mexico, we work with many indigenous communities of varying ethnolinguistic backgrounds.
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