What is the Ecosystem Restoration Program?
Sustainable development is the driving factor at ICPSD. It is vital to helping agricultural communities and ecosystems thrive. Since our Ecosystem Restoration Program began in 2019, we have made encouraging strides towards restoring, reclaiming, and preserving ecosystems within Togo.
Togo is one of the top countries for deforestation with just over five percent of the land remaining forested. Historically, many of Togo’s native trees were cut down to make way for cash crops. This has led to an increase in invasive, competitive tree species such as teak and eucalyptus. Eucalyptus trees can be beneficial to communities in the short term. They grow fast and can be cut down for charcoal and firewood. However, eucalyptus trees invade the territories of nearby plants, robbing them of vital moisture. They also alter the soil chemistry, and reduce the light available to native species. Teak trees are viewed as a long term investment, leading to expansive tracts of land being taken up by teak plantations. Teak is an appealing export. The expensive furniture they make means much of this wood is exported at high prices.
Reforesting areas with native trees helps improve soil conditions, provides necessary cover from the sun, and combats the effects of climate change. Native trees retain carbon emissions and water, preventing runoff waste from infecting nearby water supplies. They also restore important nutrients to the soil that are lost through deforestation and the introduction of invasive plants. It’s not just the plants that benefit from native trees, native wildlife need them to thrive. Native insects are able to sustain larger populations when nutrients are restored to the plants and soil. These insects serve as food for the local birds, which provide food for local animals and people. This is a vast simplification and the benefits only build from there.
While planting trees is a crucial step towards reclaiming the ecosystem, sustainable practices are needed to support them. To address this need, we started the Ecosystem Restoration Program (ERP). At the heart of ERP is our native plant nursery, where we start native plant seedlings in a healthy, protected environment. But this nursery isn’t only a place to grow native species. It also offers important educational opportunities for the local community and researchers around the world. We provide a place for researchers to study the effects of native tree species on previously deforested lands. We facilitate the blending of indigenous and scientific knowledge to explore different sustainable agroforestry methods customized to meet the unique needs and requirements of Togo’s regions. In order to help as many communities as possible, we strive to make all information from the nursery and research sites available for easy replication and adaptation in other regions of Africa.
Interested in supporting sustainable reforestation efforts? Join our community of sustaining donors: The Forest.