How Reforestation and Social Impact Combine with New Roots

by Diana Chaplin July 17, 2017


You’ll be hard pressed to find an organization that weaves together conservation, reforestation, and education as seamlessly as New Roots Foundation in Guatemala.

Since launching in 1998, New Roots has initiated a variety of comprehensive projects that benefit both local communities and the environment to increase landscape productivity and create financial security for indigenous people.

The strategies implemented here are truly holistic and have long-term effects.

Here’s what they do:

Community workshops help individuals realize their collective wealth in terms of the natural environment. Workshops provide concrete strategies that elevate the value of preserving and protecting the environment over unsustainable deforestation or short-term crop growth. Things like ecotourism, agricultural science, hardwood forestry, and land restoration practices are just some examples of the topics covered that empower local communities to thrive.

Technical support, legal advice, and financial incentives help community members implement practices to effectively work with the land, form business relationships, plant trees, and grow high-value crops - such as vanilla, cacao, and superfoods like chia, Chaya, and moringa - all while providing ecological benefit and protecting land.

Youth education ensures that future generations will grow up with the wisdom to prosper alongside nature. New Roots provides 3 full-time teachers, serving over 250 students through development education, teaching computer science and English, as well as team-building and leadership workshops through visual arts, sports, and theater. They also support two higher education scholarships in agricultural science.

New Roots and One Tree Planted

One Tree Planted is honored to partner with New Roots Foundation with a recent donation of 7,500 trees to be planted in the Laguna Brava of Northwest Guatemala, with another donation of 7,500 trees forthcoming, for a total of 15,000 trees to be planted this year. 

New Roots Reforestation

The trees are planted across many different farms, with many community members eager to start planting trees. New Roots provides trainings for growing the trees to maturity, as well as how to use seeds from those tree to plant even more, thus widening the forest.

In this region, it is typically native, high-altitude conifers that will be planted, including species of pine and cypress that are native to the region. Once the trees are certified by New Roots they are a fantastic way for land owners to sustainably generate income by harvesting 5% per year once they reach maturity, and then they proceed with planting more to replenish the harvest.

The Takeaway

In this age of globalization and limited resources it is unrealistic to address environmental needs alone. We must look at the big picture and find practical ways for both people and the planet to thrive. New Roots Foundation is one of relatively few organizations taking a multi-pronged approach to achieve this new equilibrium.

We hope this model of sustainable development spurs even more initiatives worldwide. Until then we’ll continue to support these values of social capital, empathy, heritage, and the environment. 

Want to help?

Diana Chaplin
Diana Chaplin


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