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USDA Forest Service hosts Zimbabwean partner My Trees Trust for reforestation study tour

demonstrating seed cleaning technique

Reforestation is a land management action with application and demand in a wide range of contexts, including climate change adaptation and mitigation.  As extreme weather events grow ever more common, reforestation of denuded lands help prevent natural resource disasters like landslides, flooding, and excess siltation that impacts aquatic ecosystems. Reforestation of degraded tropical low-intensity landscapes represents an important opportunity for removing carbon from the atmosphere at scale by locking it away in long-lived forest trees.  Whatever the context and demand, reforestation requires careful consideration, planning, and knowledge of best practices, areas where the USDA Forest Service has deep expertise.

In September 2022, the Forest Service hosted partners from the Zimbabwean non-governmental organization My Trees Trust for a study tour exploring reforestation in the Pacific Northwest of the United States.

The study tour group spent 11 days meeting with natural resource professionals and visiting public and private facilities that ranged from low-tech, small native plant nurseries to a large-scale, highly industrialized conifer nursery.  Common discussion topics included cultivating partnerships, quality controls to produce high-quality seedlings, and community engagement. The tour succeeded in investigating key aspects of the reforestation “pipeline” and identifying practices that can be applied and scaled to the Zimbabwean context.

evaluating native plant propagation methods

USDA Forest Service technical assistance to support My Trees restoration programming is funded by the Zimbabwe Mission of the US Agency for International Development. The study tour provided time for My Trees Trust and the Forest Service staff to develop a joint work plan for the new programming and to exchange knowledge on restoration practices.

“We think our problem is unique, so we need to solve it from scratch, but the problems aren’t unique. There are general solutions that can be customized to fit different situations,” said Clare Griffiths, Ecologist, My Trees Trust.

Perhaps the most evident theme that emerged throughout the study tour was the importance of people and their passion for natural resource conservation and management.  That passion enables organizations to overcome challenges, and fuels reforestation activity success in addressing climate change and other land management needs.