Between 2000 and 2012, 2.3 million square kilometers (890,000 sq. mi) of forests around the world were cut down. Because of deforestation, only 6.2 million square kilometers (2.4 million square miles) remain of the original 16 million square kilometers (6 million square miles) of forest that formerly covered the earth.
According to an assessment produced by the United Nations Development Program, a failure to protect environmental systems is undermining much of the progress that has been made in helping the world’s poorest communities. A sustainable environment means a sustainable human habitat.
In many rural areas of the world, deforestation can and does have a negative impact on the environment. The most dramatic impact is a loss of habitat for millions of species. Eighty percent of earth’s land animals and plants live in forests, and many cannot survive the deforestation that destroys their homes. Deforestation also drives climate change.
Deforestation occurs for multiple reasons: trees are cut down to be used for building or sold as fuel, sometimes in the form of charcoal or timber, while cleared land is used as pasture for livestock and plantation. The removal of trees without sufficient reforestation has resulted in habitat damage, biodiversity loss, and aridity. It also has adverse impacts on bio sequestration of atmospheric carbon dioxide. Deforested regions typically incur significant adverse soil erosion and frequently degrade into wasteland.
In the Polochic region of Guatemala and elsewhere, these deforested lands become the target of violent and very often fatal mudslides that occur after heavy rainfall fall on these deforested lands. These tragic events happen annually and leave families homeless and often grieving for loved ones who have sadly become victims during these horrible rainy mudslides. These also lead to a loss of biodiversity. The CHOICE Guatemala team is helping farmers develop valuable knowledge and skills in the area of environmental preservation and sustainable agricultural production. Communities are planting trees, diversifying to more appropriate and sustainable crops and revitalizing the use of heirloom seeds.
The CHOICE objective is viable reforestation and plant production on the same area of land, promoting sustainable diversification in communities where deforestation has occurred.
CHOICE’s commitment to implementing a reforestation project begins with (1) training villages about the harmful effects of deforestation and (2) introducing clean stove alternatives to wood-burning stoves.
The project impacts the environment by promoting agricultural diversification and achieving sustainable production. The goals and objectives of any CHOICE reforestation program would be to address the following:
- Achieve food security.
- Help farmers develop valuable new knowledge and skills.
- Revitalize the use of Creole and heirloom seeds.
- Encourage the regeneration and conservation of soil and water at the community level.
- Promote the diversification of crops and activities so as to avoid monoculture.
- Encourage the recycling of nutrients (using green manure in the soil).
- Promote the preservation of trees by teaching communities to value their relationship with the environment versus using trees solely for building and firewood.
- Encourage the use of organized producer collectives together with family agriculture as the foundation for social, economic, and political development.
CHOICE has active reforestation programs both in Guatemala and in Kenya