The Benefits of Trees In The Developing World

The Benefits of Trees In The Developing World

The benefits of trees in our world are extensive, and in the developing world, planting, growing and protecting trees can improve the life of a person, a family or an entire community for future generations. Trees can improve soil, provide nutrition, generate income and help to create a healthy environment.

However, many people in developing countries live on severely degraded land, and trees are essential to their survival. These land conditions directly affect their living standards: it is very difficult to grow food, collect firewood, or make a living off the land. Degraded land also contributes to global warming — when trees are gone, they can no longer remove the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

Although chemical fertilizers having been on the market for more than half a century, farmers appear reluctant or unable to buy them. Because of this, there have been many attempts to bring in other ways of adding nutrients to degraded lands - such as livestock and plants. However, research has shown that it would be better to develop a more active management approach, such as Fertilizer tree systems.

Fertilizer trees are used in agroforestry to improve the condition of soils used for farming and keep agriculture viable in arid lands in many African countries. They capture nitrogen from the air and put it in the soil through their roots and falling leaves. They can also bring nutrients from deep in the soil up to the surface for crops such as maize with roots that cannot reach that depth.

Trees can also be great sources of food for communities in the drylands of Africa. Nuts are packed with healthy fats and protein, fruits offer fibre, and the leaves can be rich sources of minerals and vitamins – providing local people with an important defence against malnutrition.

When people are taught techniques to improve their soil and also water conservation, the results are amazing. Harvests such as of millet, sorghum, and groundnuts have all improved, even though yields on crops that were grown without these techniques were down.

Better farming practices and increased reserves meant people are better able to cope in times of crisis, when climate shocks hit and when food is scarce.

One way of doing this is through helping people to grow their own food by creating nutrition gardens, as they will produce good food with a wide range of benefits for many months each year.

The extra food means that more farmers and their families will have enough to eat, even during the ‘hungry months’ – the period between harvests when stores often run out. Some could even have food left over that they could store for the following season.

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