As at home, violence shocked Nepal this year. From remote mountain police barracks to the Royal Palace, massacre bereaved the country. A new king and government reaffirm democrary and welcome dialogue. But after four months, Maoist rebels walk out; the fragile peace again erupts into a state of emergency.
Meanwhile, a humble yet more resilient peace process continues. Caring only for soil, moisture and the steady light of sun, green leaves shoot from over 115,000 robust seedlings of 31 tree species, 29 SeedTree groups in Nepal planted in the steady faith of farmers.
Scores of our farmer participants, community foresters, civil servants, students, and development workers - over 100 persons in all, joined in our first General Assembly of Community Based SeedTree Nepal in Chitwan, April 21 (left). STN then registered nationally as a Non-Governmental Organization (NGO).
Many addressed the assembly. Fifteen were inducted into an Executive Committee. Staff proudly posted accomplishments and budgets since 1996. With such limited funds, it was said, most organizations would do either tree-planting or biogas, toilets, and wells. Whereas, SeedTree has done both.
With modest program commitments, 2001 was a good year to look at results, a good year for
What we saw was gratifying. For example, one of the first year's 36 nurseries was in Gosari, Madi, Chitwan. Water was scarce in Gosari, nestled in the hills bordering India above a floodplain. With SeedTree's supplying a pump, seed and nursery support, villagers planned to replant the plain with valuable, fast-growing trees. While many of the 41,000 trees they produced in 1996 were lost to flood or drought, most survived.
At right is one of many community forest patches born of that nursery partnership, supplying fodder for animals, fuel and building materials, not to mention habitat for wildlife and protection for other returning native species. These forests build soil, retain moisture and regulate climate, offering far-reaching ecological value.
From another West Chitwan plantation, Shambhu Pariar sold 140 trees 5 - 7 years of age to pay 65% of new brick home below.
Included was a second cutting of a regenerating tree, which brought full price. This ability to regenerate has helped make Melia azaderacht our most popular tree as well as its rapid growth and utility. Its leaves feed goats, branches are good firewood and it yields a furniture grade hardwood. The new Tree sprouting at right is likely to grow even more quickly than the first, now cut and sold, whose established roots will nourish it.
In Dang we saw more long-sought successes with rare species. At right Dang Program Manager Ved Bahadur K.C. stands in April 2001 with one of many endangered and valuable black rosewood, dalbergia latifolia trees planted in 1996
on the grounds of Tulsi School where our childrens program has been so active with tree seed gathering and planting. Principal Bishma K.C. wanted to plant one as a gift to each retiring teacher. We also grew and planted sandalwood, the sacred bead tree, and the medicinal vijaysal in a registered religious forest or sacred grove
The photos below show the same schoolyard; in 1996 (lower left) with Principal Bishma K.C., and (lower center) from the roof of the school. And (lower right) in 2001 from the ground behind the school - the same area. Trees now shade the area, while preventing wind and rain erosion.
With our usual major tree-planting donor partner developing democracy at home (see: www.actforchange.com), other donor interest prompted innovative programs.
Imprisoned for supporting democracy, Principal Bishma K.C. works for those values now through education, making Tulsi School the recognized best in the Mid-Western region. An anonymous individual has been privately augmenting Tulsi's library with math and sciences including environmental science. Her interactive role with our children's program led to concern for the plight of the Badi community. Pubescent Badi girls are led into prostitution while men struggle to fish poisoned streams.
Without education, this Badi girl would be likely to follow her caste role: prostitution. She is one of five Badi girls being sponsored through graduation from Tulsi Boarding School. Only with better alternatives will such social, economic and environmental desperation be overcome.
A generous matching offer from another anonymous individual led us to develop a proposal for Dang with the UN Development Programme's Global Environment Facility. However with Dang's state of emergency, UNDP's partnership is on hold.
UNDP/GEF Coordinator Gopal Sherchan's suggestion of community environmental trusts, led us to extend resources and empower self-determination for Integrated Human Ecology IHE.
Gidhaniya's Women’s Group had already developed a community forest with SeedTree’s help and started a savings group. This we endowed as an experimental environmental trust. All 41 women members guarantee each loan made to a member for such environmentally sound projects as improved efficiency stoves, biogas plants, toilets, wells, pumps, irrigation, horticultural or forest tree nursery and planting.
While not all work is finished, already they have done more than with our previous grant system. One toilet and four tube wells (pumps) are completed. Three more are in progress. One woman has begun goat rearing. The group planted 400 new seedlings into their little Community Forest, which will more than offset any adverse impact of the goats. As the money is repaid, it will remain in their community: a revolving, growing, working asset.
This hopeful project developed through dialogue between staff, the donors and doers. Amidst impinging Maoist violence such trust is deteriorating widely. Members fear to keep all records in one place. It presents greater risks, but far greater potential rewards. We will be expanding our trust experiment into 2 more districts in 2002.
Where democratic values are assailed it is easy to see how vital they are. Even forests need their people to have a stake and voice in maintaining them.
In America’s most forested state, natural and relatively abundant regeneration challenges a tree-planting organization. We helped the Maine Forest Service develop educational materials for small woodland owners interested in harvesting and marketing timber. Sustainable harvesting is vital to preserving healthy forests, yet our expertise lies more with regeneration. We planted nursery beds for maple, cedar and oak, a few shagbark hickory and American Chestnut around our home office, and are building greenhouse space. We joined the Sheepscot Valley Conservation Association with their tree-planting (above) and continued seed collecting with the American Chestnut Association.
Darren Johnson has generated interest among the Penobscot Nation in planting brown ash, used with sweetgrass in basket making, along the Penobscot River. We continue exploring and planning!
Even during this year of program pruning, we modestly supported forest tree nursery and planting in Salinas and Laguna de Apoyo, Nicaragua.
The situation has improved considerably since we first began reforestation at the Laguna in 1998.
This year Welles Thurber took $300 worth of vegetable seeds and we again supported Proyecto Ecologico to grow some 3600 seedlings and generate a lot of vital community involvement. Two school groups planted around the rim of the beautiful crater lake, and individually around their homes. More were planted in several other private lands in the reserve. With participation of the mayor and Nicaragua Network, Proyecto Ecologico planted 1400-1500 trees in the communal lands of the municipality of Catarina. Trees were also planted in the refugee community where most of the people who lost their homes during the earthquake have been relocated.
With Debley Foundation, OUEST and others together matching a generous grant, we are prepared to meet many of the challenges and opportunities before us in 2002.
Leah Schulte of OUEST is working with Carol and staff of SeedTree Nepal to develop an effective STN partnership in 2002. In June, Debley pledged support to keep us working in Chitwan and to reopen our promising 2000 start in Parbat. Diwakar Paudel, who managed our Rukhum program so well that year, will coordinate our Parbat programs. While unrest in Dang creates uncertainty, we are continuing to support whatever Ved Bahadur advises can confidently be done in that needy area. In Chitwan, BabuRam, Bishnu, Bandana and YuvaRaj assure a strong program extending our buffer zone of protection further around this great forest.
We continue to explore opportunities for protecting the endangered salmon rivers in Maine and are in the early stages of planning a sustainable community center for ecological education and action near our home office at the mouth of the Penobscot.
Go to the 2000 Annual Report for that news archives.
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