The destruction of a healthy forest system creates a multitude of problems. Trees provide a habitat for animals, purify water sources, control flooding and erosion and help to replenish the soil with nutrients needed for farming. And while the destruction of forest systems creates challenges for the ecosystem, it also can have devastating effects on farmers, the economy, and local communities.
Eden Reforestation Projects (“Eden”) is an international nonprofit committed to alleviating extreme poverty and restoring healthy forests in Madagascar, Haiti, Nepal, Indonesia, Mozambique, Kenya, and beyond. Eden also starts these efforts by first hiring local villagers to plant trees. Eden provides an enormous amount of hope for local communities by giving these workers the necessary skills to succeed.
So today, on this Feel Good Friday, we’re pleased to shed light on all the great work our .org partner, Eden, is undertaking. We’ll also shed light on three special Eden workers who were taught reforestation skills and given a second chance in countries where opportunities can be scarce.
Supporting the Ecosystem
Eden’s work is now more important than ever, as reforestation is critical to combating climate change, protecting endangered species, and supporting local communities. In short, Eden is providing hope where hope is in short supply. Take Mozambique, for example, 75% of the country’s trees have been deforested. In Madagascar, only 10% of its original forest remains. 40% of Indonesia’s mangrove forests have been lost in the last three decades alone. And in Nepal, 25% of the population is living below the poverty line, of which an estimated 70% are forest-dependent.
These are staggering numbers and extremely damaging to many countries’ economies. As the reforestation continues, healthy forests begin to emerge, and the adverse effects of deforestation begin to disappear. Since Eden’s launch in 2005, the nonprofit has planted more than 300 million trees. And in April of this year, they planted 12 million trees and transformed the lives of thousands.
When farmers can’t grow, their farms fail, leaving few options beyond moving to overcrowded cities for work. By employing local villagers, Eden gives them a decent income so they can provide for their families again. Through their “Employ to Plant” methodology, Eden provides fair-wages and consistent employment to thousands of people in communities suffering from extreme poverty. Those they employ are tasked with producing, planting, and guarding an average of 5 million trees every month.
Here, we'll take a look at three employees that were given a chance to become leaders within the Eden organization.
In Indonesia, a man named Bagus is currently the monitoring lead for Eden Indonesia. Since joining the nonprofit in June of last year, he has become a crucial part of Eden’s operations and works daily to save Indonesia’s mangrove forests. Bagus started utilizing drone data in 2019, using the insights to help in all the reforestation projects across the islands.
“Sloshing through the mud within a massive mangrove restoration project is no simple task,” said Stephen Fitch, founder and CEO of Eden Reforestation Projects, “as the restoration sites often reach to the horizon.”
Another employee of Eden’s inspiring team is Victorino, part of the monitoring team in Mozambique. Victorino works to identify and map new reforestations while also monitoring the success of those projects. He has become an invaluable member of the team and can provide for his family while doing good for his country.
But perhaps one of the most inspirational stories to come out of Eden comes in the form of Tanjona. Tanjona started with Eden in 2017 with little to no background in technology. He had no formal education and was selling cell phones in a small market on the streets of Mahajanga, Madagascar, before starting with Eden. Tanjona picked up the technology as he worked and immersed himself in its benefits.
In July of last year, Tanjona began flying drones as part of Eden’s reforestation efforts. As he quickly understood the advantages of drone technology, Tanjona’s projects became extraordinarily efficient. Today, he flies drones for more than 30 sites in Madagascar.
Eden gave Tanjona the skills he needed to succeed and provided him an opportunity when it seemed nobody else would. He now heads a team of ten people and leads the entire monitoring process of all of Madagascar Eden’s sites. He has come a long way from selling cell phones and takes immense pride in his work.
“Bagus from Indonesia, Tanjona from Madagascar, and Victorino from Mozambique are all experiencing the dignity of employment as monitor and verification agents for Eden Reforestation Projects,” said Fitch. “Every week the guys head out to map and verify thousands of hectares of emerging forest. Without the use of drones, their jobs would be exhausting and nearly impossible.” To put their responsibilities in perspective, during the 2020 calendar year, Eden will plant well over 100 million more trees as they continue to scale up operations.
Fitch added, “Through the use of drone technology, their work is more comfortable, more reliable, and enjoyable. Ultimately, the guys are crucial to proving that Eden is doing what we say we are doing. Flying a monitoring and verification drone is essential to Eden’s work. It’s also downright fun!”
Because of their efforts and tireless work ethic, Eden’s employees are now sending their children to school and can afford food, clothing, and medical care. Sustainable farming and fishing are also returning as a result of the restored environment. Further, as an effect of consistent employment, hundreds of Eden’s workers have escaped debt slavery – a horrible reality for far too many families.
Eden’s long term goal is to ultimately plant 8 billion trees by the time the world’s population reaches the 8B mark. It is an ambitious goal they firmly believe they will obtain. No matter the number, it’s clear Eden is achieving something inspiring while employing those that would otherwise find it challenging to procure work.
We are proud to partner with Eden Reforestation and support all of their efforts. On this Feel Good Friday, we salute them and encourage each of you to support their efforts. If you're interested in learning more about drone use worldwide, review our State of the Drone Market 2020 report.