Posts Tagged ‘Haiti’

Timberland Helps Haiti Plant 2 Million Trees (and Counting)

Three years after committing to plant 5 million trees in five years, Timberland is proud to share progress of improved environmental, economic and social conditions in the rural region near Gonaives, Haiti.  In partnership with a local non-governmental organization, the Smallholder Farmers Alliance, we support an agroforestry program to train Haitian farmers to improve crop yields – and have planted 2.2 million trees along the way.

In 2010, Timberland teamed up with representatives from the Smallholder Farmers Alliance to create a self-sustaining agroforestry model that would deliver agricultural improvement, environmental restoration and economic growth for participating farmers through the development of eight community tree nurseries and agricultural training centers. This pilot cooperative, which is reliant on private sector, non-profit and community partnership, will plant a million more trees in 2013, 2014 and 2015, for a total of 5 million.

The Smallholder Farmers Alliance engaged a group of 2,000 small-scale farmers in the area near Gonaives and transformed the group into a for-profit agroforestry cooperative.  The farmers volunteer their time to manage the tree nurseries and plant trees in return for agricultural services, including high-yield seed, training in crop management, in-field technical support and the good quality tools needed to produce higher yields of sorghum, beans, corn and other food items. Farmers sell their crops individually, but the cooperative supports them by paying for these continued services with the sale of excess trees from the farmer-run tree nurseries.

After just three years of investment, the cooperative continues as a farmer-managed, self-financed operation. This innovation in “exit strategy aid,” which sets a time limit on external funding, tackles a key challenge faced by corporate organizations when getting involved in sustainability or disaster relief projects on the ground in developing nations.

To learn more about Timberland’s tree planting efforts visit the community section of our website.

The Quickest (and Cleanest!) Way to Plant a Tree

Two years ago, Timberland launched a community-based agroforestry program in Haiti that includes 8 tree nurseries run by volunteer farmers.  We connect those farmers with trees, seeds, tools and training, and they grow trees and crops to sell and eat.  It’s all part of Timberland’s commitment to plant 5 million trees before 2015.

You can help our agroforestry program grow without getting your hands dirty (although I understand that for some people, that’s half the fun) — and you might even learn a little something about yourself at the same time.  Just answer the personality questions in our Timberland “Hortiscope” (get it?) on Facebook to learn which tree species you most resemble.  When you take the quiz, we’ll plant a real tree for you in Haiti.

To learn more about Timberland’s commitment to regreening communities around the world, check out the tree planting section of our website.  And for more videos about our agroforestry program in Haiti, go to our YouTube channel.

Have You Planted a Tree Today?

Because today is Arbor Day, which is all about honoring and celebrating trees.  And we can’t imagine a more appropriate way to show our appreciation for trees than by planting MORE of them.

It’s not too late, and you don’t even have to get up from your computer to do your part: just click over to the Hortiscope quiz on Timberland’s Facebook page.  If you take the quiz, we’ll plant a tree for you in Haiti.  Simple as that!  And in the process of taking the Hortiscope and finding out what tree best matches your personality, you’ll also find out more about the real trees we’re planting through our sustainable agroforestry program in Haiti.

You might say the Hortiscope has a personality of its own — fun and frivolous, but with a serious, responsible side.  The trees we’ll plant for Hortiscope takers will benefit volunteer farmers in Haiti; these farmers receive the necessary tools and training through our agroforestry program to run our nurseries, grow and sell crops and trees, and help rebuild their communities and their environment.   See for yourself:

To learn more about Timberland’s longstanding commitment to reforestation, visit our tree planting page.  Happy Arbor Day!

It’s Arbor Day:Unleash Your Inner Lisina

Not to worry, this is a family blog.  And a Lisina is a tree that helps to produce sustainable charcoal in Haiti, where people depend on fuel wood and charcoal for cooking and heating.  It’s one of several tree species we’re growing in Haiti as part of Timberland’s sustainable agroforestry program there, which has resulted in 1.4 million trees planted to date.

We’re working on adding another 100,000 trees to that tally, and you can help:  In honor of Arbor Day (that’s this Friday, tree fans), we’re asking Facebook users to check out Timberland’s Hortiscope — a quiz which matches your personality with the tree in Haiti that’s most like you.  And if it wasn’t rewarding enough to learn whether you resemble a Benzoliv (caring and selfless) or a Kasya (trustworthy and practical), there’s more:  For every completed Hortsicope quiz, Timberland will plant a tree in Haiti.

Click, learn, plant.  What better way to celebrate Arbor Day?

Once you’ve become acquainted with your true tree personality, you can learn more about our global commitment to reforestation in the Tree Planting section of our website.  And to read more about Timberland’s Arbor Day campaign, check out our Newsroom.

Two Years Later, 1.4 Million Trees Greener

We’ve planted 1.4 million trees in Haiti since 2010, when we launched the Timberland tree nursery and training project there as part of our commitment to plant 5 million trees in five years.

Less than 2% of Haiti’s original forests remain due to a long history of unsustainable land use practices and a continuing dependence on tree wood and charcoal for cooking and heating needs. The deforestation causes a decline in soil fertility, which results in erosion that leads to extensive flooding, depleted groundwater supplies and food insecurity.

The Timberland tree nursery project in Haiti is an example of our commitment to Earthkeepers — the philosophy that guides us in everything we do. By building a community-based agroforestry model that includes eight tree nurseries run by volunteer farmers throughout the Gonaives region, Timberland is connecting those farmers with trees, seeds, tools and training. The combination of these elements has resulted in larger crop yields, which means more food to eat, crops to sell and increased income for the farmers and their families.

This video highlights the progress we’re seeing in our Haitian tree nursery project, and the positive impact we’re helping to “plant” for the people and environment in Haiti.

To learn more about Timberland’s commitment to reforestation in Haiti as well as other regions of the world, visit the tree planting section of our website.

Timberland Teams Up With IMEC to Help Haiti from Afar

What can you do with sixteen Timberland volunteers and five hours? If you pile them into a few cars and drive them to IMEC in northern Massachusetts, you can sort medical equipment and build four pallets of supplies that will be sent to a teaching hospital in Haiti. And in late February, that’s just what we did.

Simply put, IMEC receives surplus or discarded healthcare equipment from hospitals and ships it to developing nations where the need is great and the supplies can save lives (you can read their full mission statement here). I learned that much as I planned this service event. But when I arrived at IMEC with 15 of my colleagues, I found out that one of IMEC’s current major projects involves stocking and transforming the Mirebalais Hospital in Haiti, a 310-bed teaching facility and the first of its kind in the country.

Timberland has partnered with IMEC for years, sending volunteers to pack shipments and donating used office supplies for medical administrative suites. But I was struck by the interconnectedness of Timberland’s mission to plant trees, build community, and create a sustainable future in Haiti and IMEC’s mission to do, essentially, the same thing. Quality, affordable healthcare doesn’t exist separately from higher crop yields and better nutrition. Each element is part of a greater synergy that promotes a sustainable, healthy future for the people of Haiti—and that’s pretty cool. Check out YouTube for some illuminating videos of IMEC’s work thus far in Haiti.

Our volunteer group enjoyed a few hours of teamwork and service, but the pallets of supplies we prepared at IMEC will be of use long after that February afternoon. Look for more stories in the coming weeks and months as we continue to celebrate 20 years of Timberland service in 2012!

30 Seconds to Mars Fans Give the Gift that Keeps on Growing

Musician / actor Jared Leto’s list of accomplishments runs long and impressive – appearing in films like Fight Club and American Psycho, starring in the TV series My So-Called Life, serving as lead singer for the band 30 Seconds to Mars.  And now another achievement: next month, Jared turns 40!

In honor of his milestone birthday, the 30 Seconds to Mars fan club, The Echelon, is giving the gift that keeps on giving: the group is encouraging fans to make a donation in Jared’s honor to Trees for the Future in support of Timberland’s Yele Vert tree planting program in Haiti.  (Jared lived in Haiti as a child, and is actively involved in the ongoing relief efforts in the wake of the country’s 2010 earthquake.)  The tax deductible donation program runs until December 22. $1,300 has been donated by 30 Seconds to Mars fans since the October 21 launch of the campaign.

One of our favorite actor/singers and one of our favorite initiatives … we couldn’t imagine a better birthday present.  To get in on Jared’s gift, visit the Echelon Donates website.  To learn more about our Yele Vert reforestation program in Haiti, visit the tree planting section of our website.

Celebrate Earth Month With More Trees!

This is a very exciting week for tree planting at Timberland: in honor of Earth Month, we’re increasing the tree ratio in our Virtual Forest Facebook Application to 1 to 1. Forget about the complicated two-real-trees-for-every-25-virtual-trees shenanigans… we’re making it simple. From now on, when you plant one virtual tree, Timberland will plant one real tree in Haiti (up to one million). Now that’s something to celebrate!

This change to the app will be retroactive, bumping up the number of additional real trees we’ll be planting in Haiti to over 100,000 thanks to all of the virtual planting that’s been done so far! Planting a tree in the app is easy if you have a Facebook account. If you haven’t already, we invite you to join the Timberland Earthkeepers Virtual Forest and invite your Facebook friends to join, too: http://apps.facebook.com/timberlandtreeapp/

In partnership with Trees for the Future, the trees we’re planting will provide food, fuel and shelter for the people of Haiti. For example, one of the trees we’re planting, the benzoliv (moringa) tree, has leaves packed with seven times more vitamin C than oranges, four times more calcium than milk, and three times more potassium than bananas. That’s a real “miracle tree” for combating malnourishment — and together we can plant more of them in Haiti. So let’s get planting, invite our friends to help and spread the word!

Learn more about Timberland’s tree planting efforts in Haiti

I Will Save the Forests – Just As Soon As I Update My Facebook Status

If you haven’t seen the headlines (or are focused more on Grammy-gossip than environmental news), the UN has declared 2011 the “International Year of Forests.”

I think it’s about time for this acknowledgement, actually, because trees get a bad rap.  It’s 2011 and a lot of people still associate “tree” with the word “hugger” and have visions of 70’s era hippies chaining themselves to redwoods in protest.  In fact, trees truly are a fundamental element of the ecosystem – for a lot of people in a lot of corners of the globe, they provide shelter, fuel and food, help to slow down and contain runoff from heavy rains and prevent mudslides, and bear the brunt of hurricane-force winds to protect villages from being blown off the map.  That’s not hippie tree-hugging stuff, that’s trees being critical to survival, for a pretty significant population of our world.

So great, then, that the UN has deemed this the Year of Forests – but what am I, or any other individual on the planet, supposed to do with that information?  The declaration isn’t enough – that alone isn’t going to save any trees or solve the problem.  If what we want is for people to think the cause is important enough to take action, how can we make that happen?

With all due respect, I think posting a lot of reforestation facts on a website and expecting people to go there and learn and get so fired up that they go out and plant a lot of trees probably isn’t realistic.  What we need isn’t pie-in-the-sky, save the world messaging with no ideas about how to execute – we need real action that’s easy and that everyone can be invited to take part in.

There are two ways to get people engaged in a cause: you either have to make it so overwhelmingly compelling and emotional and meaningful that people simply can’t help but get involved, or you have to integrate it into what people are already doing in their everyday lives.

The latter is a more promising strategy, because you never know exactly what will resonate or be relevant to any portion of the population … there’s something about the hippie treehugger mentality, for example, that most of the world fails to connect with.  Similarly, the idea of a group of international elitists sitting around talking about why trees are so important might compel some to get engaged, but probably isn’t all that appetizing for most.  To move on the issue of deforestation, even marginally, we’ve got to translate the cause into something that’s easy for busy consumers to act on.

Case in point: I have a debit card.  I buy stuff with it.  It has a built-in contribution to the Make-A-Wish Foundation.  When I buy something using the card, apparently I also make a donation to Make-A-Wish.  Would I otherwise support Make-A-Wish?  Maybe not – not because I don’t like the organization or what it’s doing, because I think it’s super … but because I’m just too busy to think about doing it.  I can’t remember to charge my Blackberry or take out the garbage or buy my wife a Valentine’s Day card (actually, I did remember that one) – never mind remember to support an organization I think is important.  My debit card makes it ridiculously easy for me to do that — and in turn, makes me hate my bank just a little bit less.

And in this day of digital communication and connection, it shouldn’t be that hard to find opportunities for easy engagement.  Think about all the different kinds of groups that get molded together online – you go to a website, you type in your password, you’re connected to a whole network of people from around the globe who share your affinity for running, or photography or Kim Kardashian.  It’s that easy.  And when you combine easy with fun, people want to be a part of it.

We’re applying that formula – easy + fun = engaged consumers — to support Timberland’s reforestation efforts.  Working with a local NGO, we created Yele Vert – a program promoting sustainable agriculture and reforestation in Haiti.  Over the last 18 months, Yele Vert has established six community-based tree nurseries, operated by local farmers, and resulted in the planting of nearly 300,000 saplings from those nurseries in the local region.  It’s a good effort, and it makes good sense to us – Timberland is an outdoors company, and so our commitment to preserving the outdoors is a form of enlightened self-interest; no trees means no business, so we care about trees a lot.

What the program lacked was a consumer engagement element – how we could connect people in a fun, easy, meaningful way with a tree-planting initiative they couldn’t touch or see.  So we created the Timberland “Virtual Forest” on Facebook.  We’re using a platform many consumers are using already, created a program where they can build their own virtual forest – name it, plant it, watch it grow — and for every increment of virtual trees planted, we plant more trees in Haiti.  Our Facebook application isn’t the be-all, end-all, but it’s a start – we’re connecting our consumers to an issue they care about on their terms.

Declaring 2011 the Year of Forests is a good start, and we’re going to support it however we can … but in the end, actions are much more meaningful than declarations. If we could put more emphasis on creating consumer-relevant engagement programs that are easy to execute and appealing to the masses, we could really make some progress.

Serving Communities in More Ways Than One

Last week I received an email from Hugh Locke, the president of Yéle Haiti, one of Timberland’s two partners in the Yéle Vert tree nursery projects we’re supporting in Haiti. The subject line of the email was, “Yéle Vert and Cholera Response.”  I was a little apprehensive about opening it. The last time Hugh sent me a note about Yéle Vert and cholera was this past November and it was to inform me that a Yéle Vert farmer, who was also one of the program’s most ardent supporters, had died of from complications caused by cholera.

The November news, while devastating to me and many others, prompted Hugh to work with Timote Georges, our Yéle Vert project leader from Trees for the Future, and with health professionals from Partners in Health to immediately put into action a cholera prevention training program for our Yéle Vert farmers.  Within a week of receiving the training all six of the Yéle Vert nurseries began to serve as community focal points for cholera prevention.

Thanks to our passionate partners, there was good to come from such a sorrowful event. And when I finally opened Hugh’s email last week, he proved that the quick and solid course of action by Timberland’s valued partners to prevent another cholera-related death in the farming communities served by Yéle Vert was in fact an act of human greatness…

Dear Margaret:

Just back from Haiti and catching up… more to follow, but wanted to share the story below as it involves our Yéle Vert team…

Yéle Haiti’s contribution to stemming the spread of cholera has saved many lives, but you don’t often get a chance to put a face to those who have been helped. That is, until now. The face in question is that of Florvil Sony, a 15-year-old boy who lives with his parents and two brothers in the small farming community of Morancy, about 45 minutes from the outskirts of Gonaives. He recently contracted cholera. As his symptoms quickly became critical, his parents were frightened that the rest of the family could be infected if they tried to care for him. Not knowing what to do or who to turn to for help, they abandoned Florvil to die.

Twenty of the Yéle Vert technicians and farmers in this same area were trained last November in cholera prevention and treatment by Partners in Health. As word spread of Florvil having contracted the disease and been abandoned to die, a Yéle Vert technician named Wilson Noel took action. He found Florvil, took him to one of the Yéle Vert nurseries and gave him the life saving combination of water, salt and sugar that he had learned about from Partners in Health.  Having stabilized Florvil, Noel then took him using the nursery’s motorcycle to a hospital in Gonaives. By last week Florvil had completely recovered and was back with his family and attending school as usual.

Sincerely,

Hugh

15-year-old Florvil Sony (middle), photographed last week with his two brothers, after recovering from cholera. His life was saved by the efforts of Yéle Vert technician Wilson Noel.

I guess it’s true what they say, “It takes a village to raise a child.” I am so proud of the amazing community-based leadership model that Yéle Vert represents.  Yes, we’re planting hundreds of thousands of trees annually. And we’re providing valuable agroforestry training and supplying seeds to farmers. But the success of the program lies not only in the tangible elements Timberland, Trees for the Future and Yéle Haiti have provided to the farmers and the six communities where the nurseries are located. Success lies also in the intangible ideal that, because of the success of the nurseries, the Yéle Vert farmers have naturally evolved to leaders because they are truly a trusted and valued part of their farming communities. Earthkeeping at its finest.