2020 Honoree: Trees for the Future



Primary Area of Impact: Economic Development and Environmental Sustainability
Geographic Areas: Cameroon, Kenya, Senegal, Uganda, Guinea and Tanzania
Year Founded: 1989
Website: www.trees.org


Trees for the Future (TREES) provides smallholder farmers pathways out of poverty and hunger by planting
trees in forest gardens around the world. Their Forest Garden Approach (FGA) is a 4-year training and technical assistance program to teach rural smallholder farmers how to restore degraded agricultural land into thriving Forest Gardens. This approach benefits farmers, both economically and socially, while creating co-benefits for the environment through soil revitalization and carbon sequestration.

Social Challenge

Trees for the Future (TREES) addresses the social challenges of hunger, poverty, deforestation, and environmental degradation in the developing world. Hunger and poverty are very common in rural areas, where agriculture is the most common source of income for families. TREES works in 5 countries in Sub-Saharan Africa: Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Cameroon, and Senegal. Since 1989, TREES inception, the Earth’s population has grown by 2 billion people. Feeding the world in our current agricultural system destroys the Earth. In much of the tropics, farming and livestock eliminates 50 soccer fields worth of trees every minute. Losing trees means losing soils, arable land, water, and biodiversity.

According to 2019 data from the United Nations World Food Program (WFP), the prevalence of hunger is rising in almost all of Africa. Furthermore, Africa has the highest percentages of people who are moderately and severely food insecure, globally, as measured by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization’s (FAO) Food Insecurity Experience Scale (FIES). The scale shows that since 2016, over 50% of Africans were either moderately or severely food insecure.

According to data from the FAO, only 23% of land in Africa is forested, with many countries being far below that number. Kenya and Uganda, respectively, only have 6% and 15% of the country’s land forested. Cameroon, Senegal, and Tanzania have a much larger percentage of their country forested, at 42%, 44%, and 38%, respectively. Africa is also seeing forested land disappear at a rate of 0.5% per year between 2005-2010. This means 3,410,000 hectares were lost each year and 762,000 each year are in TREES’ 5 countries. Tanzania alone, sees a loss of 403,000 hectares per year. Deforestation and environmental degradation are very common practices in Sub-Saharan Africa. Smallholder farmers are encouraged to plant monocultures of cash crops to benefit big-business agriculture, at the expense of the farmers themselves. Monocultures degrade soil by draining nutrients, and over the years, as the soil degrades it is unable to produce as much of the cash crop. Farmers depend on cash crops to both eat, and generate income, so the worsening yields significantly decrease the quality of life of the farmer and their family.


  • In 2005, TREES started the world’s first distance agroforestry training program which reaches over 2,000 trainers in four years.
  • In 2014, TREES had planted 100 million trees in more than 60 countries.
  • In April 2018, TREES becomes the official training partner with UNITAR – United Nations Institute for Training and Research.
  • Average income increase of 400% for farmers over the course of the project.
  • Forest Garden increases food security by 73% in the first year and dietary diversity by 300% in 2 years
  • Forest Gardens generate $1,000-$2,000 per acre through a wide diversity of fruits and vegetables, compared to the $200-$400 farmers were making with monocultures.
  • Increased macronutrient diversity in diets of farmer households.
  • 653,936.4 metric tons of carbon sequestered from the atmosphere by forest gardens.
  • 2,400,000 metric tons of CO2 sequestered from the atmosphere by forest gardens.
  •  In 2019 alone, TREES launched an additional 17 new projects working with 5,990 farmers in Senegal, Cameroon, Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda.