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Trees for Sustainable Africa

Earth Rights Institute West Africa’s Program

Coalition for a Sustainable Africa’s Carbon Offset Campaign

A Part of our Trees for a Sustainable Africa Initiative

Nobody wants to support practices that add to climate change. But many of us don’t know how to avoid it. And that’s where Earth Rights Institute and CSAfrica’s Trees for a Sustainable Africa comes in.

About the project

Earth Rights Institute is a founding member organization working with CSAfrica as the first coalition of non-profits to collectively work towards building a local economy based on combating climate change through jatropha tree planting, forest protection and reforestation programs that will participate in carbon credit trading markets.

Earth Rights Institute believes this emphasis on planting, conservation, and research is important for the conservation of local biodiversity, enhancement of natural beauty, prevention of soil erosion and the offsetting of carbon emissions. This tree planting project is part of the UNEP "Billion Tree Campaign."

The first region for implementation of this program will be in West Africa directed by our Earth Rights Institute office in Abidjan, Cote d'Ivoire. This is where the Jatropha Cultivation Project will build new economies and green energy for local communities in the northern region of Cote d'Ivoire, Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger.

About Northern Cote d'Ivoire

In recent years, there has been much concern about the rapid rate of deforestation in Cote d'Ivoire. In this region, rainforests are being destroyed at a rate sometimes cited as the highest in the world. In the northern region, the relic of primary forest and the catchments basin - a 15.000 ha area, is threatened with extinction, while the population is depending on it to survive. This is mainly due to growing poverty and unsustainable harvest of natural resources. Most of the country's forests – once the largest in West Africa - have been heavily logged. This has led to many frequent brush fires that destroy crops, villages, and the scarce vegetation cover.

The local communities in this region have also been affected by civil wars. Since the mid-1990s, the government and non-profit organizations have neglected this ravaged community. As effort to bring peace in this region is hopeful, people who had fled are returning to rebuild their lives. The returnees and disadvantaged people of this region need to establish a sustainable foundation in local economy, infrastructure to restore their ecological systems. Urgent work is now needed more than ever for this region to rebuild and give the local population the ability to stay in their villages.

What is Jatropha?

The jatropha tree is a valuable, multi-purpose crop that alleviates soil degradation and produces biofuel and other beneficial by-products, such as soap, fertilizer, and medicinal products.

The tree produces seeds with up to 40% oil content that can be used as biodiesel.

It can grow in the poorest wasteland, can resist up to 3 years of drought, and does not impact land needed for growing food. Jatropha is a major source of income for a community and a great opportunity to fight global warming.

Jatropha's role

It is a well-known fact that the Jatropha is a valuable multi-purpose crop. It alleviates soil degradation, desertification and deforestation, and can be used for bio-energy to replace petro- diesel, for soap production and climatic protection, and hence deserves specific attention. In addition, researchers have found that Jatropha can help to increase rural incomes, self- sustainability and alleviate poverty for women, elderly, children and men, tribal communities, small farmers. It can as well help to increase income from plantations and agro-industries.

Jatropha trees are drought resistant, grow easily in marginal soil, and naturally discourage browsing livestock because their leaves and stems are toxic to animals. The trees even help improve the quality of the land. Because of their shallow spreading root system, the Jatropha tree reduces soil erosion and can be useful in reclaiming eroded land. They also produce a high-grade organic fertilizer during the oil extraction process, with mineral composition comparable to that of chicken manure.

The local population is eager to take advantage of the Jatropha program, as they have heard about the benefits of Jatropha from other communities and success of it being used as an alternative to fossil fuels.

Become a Carbon Combater!

With our partners at Michigan State University's Global Observatory for Ecosystem Services, we're working to develop carbon credit financial markets for local communities in Africa that are in need of socio-economic capacity building. These markets will help raise local rural incomes while simultaneously reducing atmospheric carbon.

The communities we are working with are experiencing the most devastating impact from climate change. UNICEF reports:

"In general, developing countries – in particular the poorest – depend heavily on agriculture, the most climate-sensitive of all economic sectors...

As with any complex global phenomenon, the effects of (climate change) are far-reaching and interconnected. The droughts that decimate a village's food and water supply create aching hunger...

Climate change has evolved from an 'environmental' issue into one that requires collective expertise in sustainable development, energy security, and the health and well-being of children." 1

Giving support for Africans to grow jatropha trees elevates these villages out of poverty while also combating the many detrimental effects of global warming in both the developing and developed worlds.

By 2010, we aim for a thousand communities and one half-million acres to become part of the program.

Join us in our work to help build support to alleviate poverty in Africa.

Spread the word. Raise awareness about how jatropha can help Africa and the world reduce carbon emissions. YouTube, blogs, and social networking sites are all great places to start.

Pressure companies to start balancing out their carbon emissions by supporting carbon reduction programs.

Help Earth Rights Institute raise funds to help local African communities produce their own biodiesel.

Adopt a jatropha tree to balance your own carbon emissions. Donate a $10 tree and offset 1/4 ton of carbon!

Contact us to plan your own action campaign!

Learn More

Learn more about who we are and see our calendar of events, including local tree plantings, at

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Last modified: 10 March 2009