The Forest: Help Us Fight Climate Change & Build Community
“Little by little, a little becomes a lot.” - Tanzanian Proverb
WHAT IS THE FOREST?
A tree planted by itself can contribute to many things. But when planted as part of a forest, it truly thrives and contributes to a greater cumulative difference. Just like trees, we believe people grow and thrive together. The Forest is a community of monthly donors actively fighting climate change & deforestation through the empowerment and support of community. The Forest are people like you giving anything they can to help communities in Africa define and pursue their own sustainable development. The Forest members cultivate forests, both figuratively through their support of sustainably minded community development and literally through direct support of the growing and planting of native tree species.
ECOSYSTEM RESTORATION PROGRAM
Togo is one of the top five countries in the world for fastest rate of deforestation. As a result, less than five percent of the land in Togo remains forested. The stable funds provided by The Forest members allow ICPSD to maintain and grow the Ecosystem Restoration Program (ERP). ERP directly supports the reclamation, restoration and preservation of ecosystems in Togo through the utilization of native species and community development.
At the heart of ERP is a native plant nursery. The nursery is the primary platform from which ERP supports the reclamation and revitalization of native plant species within the framework of sustainable systems. It is a center for learning and research, a place where local and regional members of the Togolese community attend hands on workshops to learn about and explore sustainable practices for reforestation and afforestation efforts. It is also central to fostering citizen science and community-based understanding of climate change mitigation and adaptation measures. It provides information and vital mitigation measures that are location specific and community managed. The nursery out planting site is a multi-fold operation. Not only is it a place to increase forested land in Togo, but it is also the primary site for long-term native tree research and agroforestry experimentation. It is an important outdoor environment for citizen science in local and regional communities. All information gathered at the nursery and out planting site is made available for easy replication and adaptability in other regions and communities.
Agroforestry Communities in Togo rely heavily on small family farming. This also makes them more susceptible to the ramifications of climate change. The introduction of trees increases forest cover and improves soil quality through nutrient restoration, water retention, and carbon retention. It can also provide a replenishing approach to wood fuels, a large cause for deforestation in Togo.
Community Driven Development Community participation and leadership are the cornerstone of all ICPSD operations, including ERP. Overseen by a local forest and restoration specialist, the native plant nursery provides a place accessible to all community members in which to learn, research and trouble shoot agroforestry approaches in their unique context. Workshops put on by a local women’s cooperative – Lolonu – help educate local and regional leaders and community members in native plant restoration and agroforestry efforts. By partnering with communities, local organizations and local units of government, local community members have better access to resources, support and participation that enhance local capacity while also establishing precedent for sustainable growth into the future.
Reforestation provisions and agroforestry are in high demand in Togo. Currently, ERP's greatest needs are space, land purchase and greater capacity for education and seedling production. Both the nursery and the out planting site sit on leased land. We also have a greater demand for seedlings (and pre-COVID, a greater demand for workshops) from local and regional communities. For long-term sustainability of native plants, ERP, and community research, it is crucial to own the land used by the nursery and out planting site. This will also allow for the production of more native plant seedlings and a larger agroforestry learning platform that can be a better resource not only for Togo, but for the larger region and country.
WHO IS ICPSD?
ICPSD is a collaborative and innovative change making organization. At its heart is the desire to support people as leaders and stewards of their own growth and development. ICPSD acknowledges and asserts that Africa is the "epitome of resilience" and home to "technological geniuses, artists, activists, scholars and thriving despite slavery, colonization and continued exploitation by western countries in the present day." (Quotes from Chidera Ihejirika's 2018 article in Afropunk.) ICPSD was founded by Togolese native and U.S. citizen Dr. Romuald Afatchao as a means of giving back to his community and country. It was incorporated as a nonprofit organization in the state of Idaho in 2012. Official operations began and 501(c)(3) tax status was received in January of 2015.