7 years ago, we began working with Eden Reforestation Projects to plant trees in Madagascar. Madagascar is one of the world’s poorest nations. Due to extreme poverty, many of the villagers in Madagascar have been forced to chop down entire forests for basic needs like fuel, wood, and shelter. 40 years ago, Madagascar could boast mangrove trees numbered in the billions along the island’s coastal estuaries. Today, entire mangrove forests have been cut down, covered in oil, and burned in order to create charcoal. Charcoal is considered to be a sign of wealth and status in Madagascar.
Since 2012, tentree has committed to planting hundreds of thousands of mangrove trees in the Mahaban Estuary, located 65 kilometers south of Mahajunga. The trees we plant here don’t just help the environment, but they help the people too. Because of the added income from tree planting, many locals are now able to send their children to school, buy healthier food, good clothing, and afford healthcare for themselves and their families.
The ability to purchase basic needs and enjoy a better quality of life is important for our tree planters, but the income from planting trees also enables our planters to pursue other ventures for which they are passionate.
Eric Rakotohary is one of our tree planters at the Mahabana site. Eric’s work planting trees has allowed him to follow other passions outside of tree planting. Eric started a local movie theater, completely powered by solar energy, and staffs a concession stand attached to it. The theater shows a new movie every three weeks and the concession stand is stocked with food items grown and made locally. Locals consider it the best place to grab a beer and watch a movie! Eric’s theater brings joy and entertainment to the entire community and it’s all thanks to your trees.
Meet Mama Nata
Like Eric, “Mama Nata” as she’s called by folks in Mahabana has rolled her work as a tree planter into starting a business of her own. Mama Nata was one of the first tree planters to plant for us in 2012. Because of the income from tree planting, she was able to open and operate a general store in Mahabana.
This store sells everyday products such as shampoo, cookies, orange soda, baskets, rice, oil, batteries, and clothes. She works at her shop part time and continues to plant trees in Mahabana. The funds used from the convenience store go towards putting her daughter through school in Mahajanga. The funds from tree planting support herself and her husband. We would be honored if someday, Mama Nata carried tentree products in her store!
Like Mama Nata and Eric, Roasoa Lestine used the funds she made from tree planting to help start up a business of her own. It’s a small coffee shop, sometimes called “Mahabana Starbucks,” that serves coffee and biscuits. Roasoa has been planting with Eden Reforestation Projects for 9 years now and her dream is to one day buy land in Majunga with the money she saves each month. Some of our team was able to pay her coffee shop a visit! She and her staff were incredibly friendly and Madagascar is famous for its incredible coffee. We hope Roasoa opens a franchise in Canada!
The trees you plant in Madagascar help the environment by preventing erosion, absorbing carbon pollution and releasing oxygen, and providing vital habitat to animals. But these trees also help lift people out of poverty and give them back dignity and independence lost to extreme poverty. It has been both incredible and humbling seeing how this community has begun pulling itself out of poverty all because of the trees we plant.
Alongside our tree planters, we are proving what planting trees can accomplish for people and the planet. We hope to inspire other companies and organizations to do the same.