Deforestation remains a major environmental challenge in Malawi, contributing to soil depletion and watershed degradation. At the same time, because of the number of years needed for the trees to mature and be productive, smallholder farmers have not found it profitable to plant and maintain orchards. CDI established the Trees of Hope Project in the Dowa and Neno districts of Malawi to reverse deforestation there by making tree farming profitable and attractive for smallholder farmers.
To help rural communities involved in the Trees of Hope Project, CDI has assisted local groups establish more than 200 small community nurseries that are profitable, sustainable businesses. In the current season, 630,000 seedlings have been grown in these community nurseries prior to being planted by Trees of Hope Project farmers. Since the program’s inception, more than 2,000 smallholder farmers have planted over two million hardwood, mango, and citrus trees.
Critical to the project’s success, the trees planted to date are sequestering 200,000 tons of carbon dioxide. The carbon offsets generated by the tree planting are then sold on the international marketplace. Income from the offset sales provides income to the smallholders as the trees mature and become productive and provides funding for the ongoing operation and expansion of the project. In 2012, the Trees of Hope program made its first seven sales of carbon offsets, totaling 8,950 tons and providing $39,380 in income for farmers.