We help people who depend upon threatened forests to improve their lives and ecosystems in self-reliant and ecologically sustainable ways. In the self-selecting rural communities we serve, up to 96% of energy needs are supplied by wood. We have developed several programs to help them conserve and supply their own forest products sustainably. All our programs share a respect for diversity, both human and biological, that compose a healthy ecological community. All build on the secure foundation of participatory decision-making.
SeedTree's Tree Nursery and Planting Program has brought over 3,000,000 trees to life since 1996. These trees of some 70 species are planted for fuel, timber, income, soil improvement, erosion control, fiber, food, resins, watershed protection, pollution and climate control, beauty and medicine. We combine this with education in local seed collection, planting and care in the nursery, agroforestry, bioengineering and silvaculture.
Grasses and bamboos also provide many such human and ecological benefits. When possible, we also offer seed of desired grasses and vegetables to our tree planting groups. This popular Kitchen Garden component quickly improves the diet in our communities and builds support for our wider ecological aims. Here, too, we can directly protect local species as this year when we collected and distributed the seed of the endangered ban karela, or bitter gourd.
Water Supply is an often needed component of our program and we assist as able with support for hose, watering cans, pumps, wells, and traditional water harvest ponds that greatly benefit the communities' agriculture.
Renewable and Energy Conserving Technologies: Cooking is often done on an open fire in the home. Two more healthful and fuel-efficient alternatives we support are: One, Improved Cooking Stoves conserve 25% of the firewood while they carry smoke out of the house. They save firewood, gathering time and improve air quality in the home. Two, Latrine/biogas systems destroy methane, provide clean-burning fuel for stoves and lamps, reduce labor, protect forests, reduce respiratory disorders, improve village hygiene, yield pathogen free fertilizer, and motivate users to contain livestock. These and related components consitiute an integrated program of Infrastructure for Rural Human Ecology.
The essentials of all our work are now taught in villages as an Environmental Science and Human Ecology Education course using a illustrated manual curriculum "Hami ra Hamro Vatavaran" (Ourselves and our Environment) developed by our Nepal Program Coordinator Bishnu Kumar B.K. with inputs and perspectives from several of our field allies.
In SeedTree's latest project, Adam Stone is working with local communities and organizations to plant native trees in Amazonian Peru. Also last winter SeedTree provided organizational and matching support to Desarollo y Educacion, an initiative of two students from Wheaton College on behalf of communities in Rio Chico, Ecuador. Read more about this program in the article by Hannah Benoit. We look forward to reporting more soon on these and other new developments.
We are increasingly implementing our programs through Community Environmental Trust (microcredit) Funds.These trusts keep our endowed resources working in the communities to revolve and grow indefinitely. We are carefully developing them to foster self-reliance while extending benefits to more people.