Eden Projects: A global reforestation effort that employees locals to plant and care for their own forests. FIND AN INTRO VIDEO AND ALL OF THEIR ORGANIZATION INFO AT THEIR WEBSITE, HERE.
1. What does Eden Projects do? Has its mission or function changed in the past decade of operation?
Eden reduces extreme poverty and restores healthy forests by employing local villagers to plant tens of millions of trees every year. Since 2005, Eden has successfully employed over 3,500 full and partial season village workers, and as of this year we have planted over 160,000,000 trees. Our objective, which we hope to achieve by the year 2020, is to plant a minimum of 100 million trees each year and reduce poverty through the employment of tens of thousands of people in countries where poverty is rampant and directly connected to environmental degradation. Our mission has not changed over the past ten years but we have expanded dramatically and have increased the number of project nations where we work, dramatically increasing the number of trees being planted.
2. There are a number of reforestation efforts around the globe. What distinguishes Eden Projects? What has made it so effective at planting so many trees?
By keeping our overhead costs low, we are now recognized as one of the most cost-effective reforestation organizations on the planet. We start by prioritizing the needs of desperately poor people who are one of the primary causes behind global deforestation. Eden is extremely effective at relating well and providing support at the local village level. The bigger planting groups fund projects through corrupt federal governments where the majority of the money is siphoned off and often not used for its intended purpose.
Eden hires local villagers to plant trees and care for the new forests. This not only helps the environment, but it also contributes to the betterment of the village's economy. When the villagers take part in the restoration, there is a sense of ownership over the forests and a better understanding of the importance of keeping their forests healthy and thriving.
3. For the general public - is it your understanding that different tree and conservation efforts are all more less part of the same effort or do they serve qualitatively different purposes?
While we find value in all groups who are committed to restoring the environment, there are differences between the various groups.
Eden's commitment goes beyond advocacy and agroforestry and extends our efforts by addressing one of the primary root causes behind much of global deforestation: extreme poverty. Desperate people do desperate things to survive and care for their children. Cutting down trees to make charcoal is a common practice of those who are desperate to provide for their families. By providing consistent employment with a fair wage, we make it more profitable for our village employees to plant trees than to cut them down.
Eden is also committed to restoring entire forests. While some groups distribute seeds or seedlings to the local community, we have designated reforestation sites that are protected, monitored, and maintained.
4. Many of the charities that we feature on Paper Earth are more local to the artists who promote them. In the context of environmental giving, how do you recommend the general public think about supporting local and global efforts?
We believe that all people should support the local causes that they are passionate about. We should all do what we can to make a positive impact in the communities where we live.
Where global issues are concerned, the places of greatest impact need to be considered. For instance, if you are concerned about issues surrounding deforestation, in order to make the most impact, you will want to partner with and support an organization that is working in areas where deforestation is causing the most devastation to the land and its people.
5. In your experience, what are the most convincing and proactive steps that people can take every day to contribute to environmental solutions?
The biggest thing people can do is not limit themselves. Even small efforts can make a big difference. Vincent Van Gogh said: "Great things are done by a series of small things brought together". Many people don't think they can make an impact in reducing poverty, increasing employment, decreasing deforestation, and restoring the environment. We disagree. For instance and in concrete terms, we plant trees for as little as ten cents per tree, so a donation as small as ten dollars can make a big impact: 100 trees planted AND 1 day of employment for one our village employees.