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Tree Projects Improve the Land and People's Lives

I am heartened when I read in different publications how people are finding healthy, nurturing ways to work with trees. Projects in Boulder, Colorado and in Honduras are two examples of those projects.


Charred trees ground to mulch are being used to stabilize a forest that burned in 2020 near Boulder, Colorado. The mulch was spread by helicopter over the foothills where dead trees stand like blackened sticks. Purpose of the mulch is to help new vegetation take root.


It also may prevent soil erosion. That's especially important because erosion can damage nearby lakes and streams. A large two-page picture of mulch being dropped on the foothills appears on pages 68 and 69 of Saving Forests, a special May 2022 issue of the National Geographic.


In El Triunfo, Honduras, residents are learning to grow and harvest cashew trees as they adjust to the harsh realities of living within what is known as the dry corridor. In that corridor, flooding or no rain at all create huge problems for people who try to grow corn and other traditional produce such as beans. The dry corridor is part of Central America that also includes parts of El Salvador, Nicaragua, Guatemala and Costa Rica.


In a recent Guardian Weekly, Sarah Johnson wrote an article about the experience of El Triunfo resident Lucia Alvarez who struggled to survive by growing corn. Drought and unpredictable rains often ruined her corn crop.


With training from the World Food Programme (WFP), Lucia and others in El Triunfo learned how to work with cashew trees. The trees already grew in the area, but people didn't know how to use their potential.


WFP is a United Nations program that was the 2020 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate. Its humanitarian work saves lives in emergencies. It also uses food assistance to promote peace, stability and prosperity for people recovering from conflict, disasters, and climate change challenges.


As a result of WFP's help, many people in the El Triunfo region are starting to grow and harvest cashew trees, which don't need much water. The trees also improve the soil's condition.


The people there have learned how to harvest cashew apples containing the nuts. They work with other organizations to do all that's required to bring the ready-to-eat cashews to market. One company in El Triunfo has learned to do every step of the entire process on its own.


Because they learned to work with cashew trees, people of El Triunfo have the financial resources to buy their own land and animals and to educate their children. They are prospering at home.

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