Monday, June 16, 2008

Become Carbon Neutral, Plant a Tree, Sow a Garden, Save a Community in East Timor

Become Carbon Neutral, Plant a Tree, Sow a Garden, Save a Community in East Timor

(click on photo to enlarge)

Trees, Prosperity and Peace

Timor-Leste is a wonderful tree-growing environment. Sunshine, a diverse topography from beautiful coasts, to tropical highlands, to fertile mountains, and a life-giving rainy season combine to support growth of mangroves, lush tropical hardwoods, rich coffees, a variety of luscious fruits, and exquisite spices. From colonial times to the modern era Timor-Leste has been the source for the world’s finest sandalwood. But, centuries of colonial exploitation, recent decades of outsider oppression, and a poor life for a people dependent upon subsistence agriculture have left Timor-Leste in a de-forested state.

Reforestation of the country provides one of the major opportunities for the Timorese people to build wealth and create sustainable income while, at the same time, protecting its rich natural environment.

Under the sponsorship of the President’s Anti-Poverty Initiative, the people of Timor-Leste are embarking on a long-term, community-based program to reforest their country. This program has many dimensions including the rebuilding of its sandalwood forests, the replacement of its coffee shade trees that are dying from disease, the development of tropical hardwood forests, the expansion of fruit and spice growing capacity, and the strengthening of family livelihoods and food security.

The President’s Anti-Poverty Initiative is working in village communities with families, schools, and community organizations to establish effective tree planting programs. It is recognized that the successful planting of trees is a long term project. The plant site must be properly prepared whether it is intended for one tree or for hectares of new forest. Planting must be done at the proper time so that the new trees receive the right amount of water and nutrition in the first months. Cultivation must continue for, at least, three to four years until the trees become established and self-sustaining. And, the trees must be protected from foraging animals and destructive land management practices, such as, from the application of slash and burn traditions.

The President’s Initiative provides seedlings and young trees to families, schools, and community organizations that assume responsibility for planting the trees. Incentive payments are also made for up to four years to the families and organizations for the services provided to cultivate and protect the young trees. In some situations the trees will become the property of those who have planted, cultivated, and protected them. In other situations the trees will become part of the public domain and the growing wealth of the community.

Funding Support

Donations to support the President’s Anti-Poverty Initiative and its “Trees, Prosperity and Peace” reforestation program can be made in several different levels as outlined above:

Individual trees will be used for decorative, ceremonial or house landscaping purposes.

10 trees will be used for private property plantings for landscaping, to enhance family livelihood, and to complement family kitchen gardens.

100 tress will be used for landscaping around public buildings, in other public areas, or in parks.

1,000 trees will be planted as new forest plantings in hectare size plots by families or community groups.

Kitchen Gardens

To complement the reforestation program and to encourage greater food security and improved nutrition in diets, the President’s Anti-Poverty Initiative is also working in communities to encourage the creation of kitchen gardens. The development of a kitchen garden can provide immediate return to families who invest in cultivation of land that is available to them. These kitchen gardens, therefore, become a very good complement to the planting of trees that provide only longer-term return on the investment of time, energy, and resources. A donation to this level of support will provide the funds for a family to purchase the appropriate tools, acquire a supply of good quality seeds for the first seasonal plantings, and support the development of training programs and demonstration plots.

(Information for this programme proved by Mr. Barry Thomas, Special Advisor to President Jose Ramos-Horta, President of Timor-Leste).


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