Issue 5                   SeedTree Annual Report                 December   2000

The turning centuries gave SeedTree pause to reflect on the past, to envision and embark toward new horizons. (A summary of accomplishments to date is shown later in this report.) During our first half decade, we have grown from seed to seedling, to sapling and - marked this year by the registration of SeedTree Nepal - to a fruiting, parent tree! With our programs branching out naturally in Nicaragua and Nepal, we are discovering new ways to apply the lessons from our international experience at home. Two Maine colleagues who joined us in Nepal, highlight two increasingly important aspects of our work: eco-peace and riverside restoration.

Eco-Peace: Dr. Emily Markides, (at left in photo) former Director of Peace Studies at the University of Maine and a recent Founder of the International Eco-Peace Village in her native Cyprus, brought a timely focus on the potential for seeding peace through ecology.

Nepal's young democracy faces increasingly harsh challenges from Maoist/police violence, particularly in western districts. We renewed our commitment to some of these most desperate areas of Nepal. From Madi we brought two village leaders: Bhagrathi Mahato (above in tan shawl) and Yuva Raj onto our staff to help us reach more villages and households with our forest tree Nursery/Plantation and Integrated Ecology programs. With the help of Diwakar Poudel (right in blue shirt) we began a new program in Rukhum, a remote western hillside district at the epicenter of Maoist intimidation and violence. The Maoists demand food or money and people give, wishing no trouble. Police retaliate harshly against such "collaborators." Political apathy and fear grip villagers desiring only peace.

Yet all must face difficulties common to Himalayan hillsides such as landslide and erosion on their steep slopes. Both hostile factions work peacefully together in our groups to stabilize soil, provide fodder, construction materials, firewood and other valuable forest products. It is heartening to see these people overcome fear and desperation by working together engaged in purposeful, creative action for a better future.

Riparian Restoration: The buffer zones of human habitation around endangered forest preserves have always been a focus for our work. So too, riparian restoration, particularly the component of restoring tree and ground cover along river banks, has increasingly become a strategic target. In these ecologically vital areas, the benefits of each planted tree are multiplied.

Tree roots break up the soil so it can safely hold enormous amounts of water. Forest canopy breaks the hard fall of rain. Thus trees further reduce erosion, clean and enrich the water with nutrients. Leaf litter from trees provides habitat for microbial and insect species. It is thus at the base of the food chain in rivers hosting species as diverse as the endangered wild Atlantic Salmon in Maine or the fresh water, gangetic dolphins in Nepal.

Lucy Woodward plants cedar seedlings (left) along eroded banks of an endangered wild salmon river headwaters in Maine. Long a recreational lover of rivers, Lucy has taken an interest in protecting them in as pristine a condition as possible. She advocates for commercial aquaculture interests and those trying to protect wild salmon to look beyond conflicts toward their shared concern for salmon habitat: clean, cool, nutrient-rich rivers as assured by forested riverbanks.

Since 1995 we have worked in Nepal along the great Narayani, the Rapati and Riu Rivers that form the western, northern and southern boundaries of the Royal Chitwan National Park. The Chitwan District Irrigation Office has asked SeedTree to provide training and assistance to help them fulfill a Bio-Engineering Program along these three rivers. The SeedTree group (right) is planting along the Riu, where the 1999 monsoon took the lives of eleven villagers as flash flooding washed away their cluster of homes.

Ongoing programs:

Our programs developed well during 2000. Several conscientious, small, green businesses and individual supporters joined Working Assets* to keep tree planting our fundamental activity, yet - when it is well established - to build ecological infrastructure on that firm foundation.

*Working Assets Long Distance (800-788-8588) plants 17 trees for every ton of paper they use; and Earth Routes green travel plants 3 trees for each ticket sold.

Nursery/Plantation: This program is sprouting out in Maine, continuing in Nicaragua, and growing robustly in Nepal, where we registered as a Community Based Organization: SeedTree Nepal. In Nepal we developed our efforts in the districts of Chitwan, Dang, Nuwakot and Sinhupalchok while branching into three new districts: Parbat (another remote central hill district), Rukhum and Nawalparasi (west of Chitwan), assisting 56 village sites to plant nearly as many species of trees, producing over 325,000 seedlings. We are now monitoring these for two years and attaining about 60% survival in the five or six hardiest indigenous species that constitute about 80% of our planted trees. The remaining 20% is composed of a much greater variety of species, some experimental, many endangered and difficult to grow under present conditions.

In Nicaragua, SeedTree Board members Cloe Chunn and Richard Komp visited our project at Laguna de Apoyo, meeting with both our local partners: the Nicaraguan Environmental Movement (MAN) and Proyecto Ecologico.

The year old cashew trees we first began planting with MAN (at left) are now producing fruit. This year Proyecto Ecologico has joined MAN and the students of Masaya high school in planting tropical hardwoods including mahogany, pochote, bedro and guanacaste in new areas.

While Hurricane Mitch spared the Laguna, fire and earthquake have not. Repair of earthquake damage has kept our effors in Nicaragua modest this year, helping plant about 10,000 trees at the Laguna and a site in Salinas. However, we are coordinating with potential new "donor and doing" partners (Rainforest Alliance and Nicaragua Network) to address long term problems that Hurricane Mitch underscored.

Experienced foresters: Marc Barany and Welles Thurber will be developing our program in Nicaragua this coming year. Welles, active with the American Chestnut Foundation in saving that species, will be coordinating with our established partners and Marc, a protege of our Board Chair Dr. Tom Hammett at Virginia Tech. Marc is presently allied with the National SeedCenter in Nicaragua.

In all, our 2000 Nursery/Plantation Program assisted rural people to produce and plant over 330,000 trees of predominantly native species. These are being planted for equally diverse reasons, including firewood, timber, erosion control, shade, fertilizer and fodder, or beauty.

Diverse Seed Distribution:

During 2000, this program extended west in Nepal to other politically disturbed but ecologically vital areas, Bardiya and Kailali. There we provided seed of many speciess for many villages under the supervision of CARE allies, including much sought viable bamboo seed.

Integrated Infrastructure for Rural Human Ecology: Thanks to generous support from the Debley Foundation and a few individual supporters, it was another great year for this rapidly expanding program. We installed 24 home biogas plants (left) with attached toilets and 10 wells (right) in Dang and Chitwan.

This letter from our Dang Coordinator illustrates the continuing need:

"In October, the government of Nepal increased the price of kerosene 100%. I think it will create a serious problem for the forest. People who were using kerosene for cooking will use firewood. Many trees and poles will be cut down. In such situation biogas is the best solution. This morning I visited a farmer's home who has constructed a 6m3 biogas [plant] this year with SeedTree's assistance. This farmer has no cattle and is using [only] toilet [to produce] biogas. He is easily solving his cooking purpose by toilet. This is better program and we have to continue and make more biogas plants. Many people come to meet me asking for biogas program. They are ready to bear [a share] of the money and to do all the unskilled labor of digging the pit, collecting stone and sand. With this system we can make plants [with] a limited budget . . . " - Bed Bahadur K.C. SeedTree, Dang.

With initial support for 2001 already granted by Debley Foundation, and an anonymous individual, we are expanding this wonderful program. It improves the ecological and human quality of life for each household so markedly.

At our Home Office in Maine, we also made our infrastructure more ecological, with the addition of solar electricity, recycled stationery, and the planting of more trees on the premises.

Kitchen Garden: To all our tree-planting groups in Chitwan, we also supplied seed of several popular vegetables to improve the diets of participating households.


The biogas or "deep green energy" page on our website ( has attracted inquiry from around the world including Australia, El Salvador, Romania, Bulgaria, Haiti, and Kenya and the Office of Economic and Comunity Development in Maine.

Our outreach efforts also benefited from Emily Markides' expertise in arranging speaking engagements for Director Carol Kinsey at the University of Maine, including on of their Forest Ecosystem Science Seminar series. Carol also got the chance to meet and thank members of Working Assets Long Distance interested to learn more about the work they have sponsored with such commitment. Emily also assisted with a report from Nepal that generated a good deal of support from socially responsible business for all aspects of our program there. Subsequently, the Maine Forest Service invited Carol to help revise educational materials, emphasizing non-timber values of forests, such as ecological, recreational, aesthetic and as conservators and improvers of soil and water quality. ( publications).

We are better prepared than ever for an exciting and productive year 2001. We thank you for your support and hope you will continue to participate in this vital program.

Summary of Accomplishments to Date.

With you support since 1995, SeedTree has contributed to renewing degraded or endangered forest ecosystems by:

• establishing a network of over 200 diverse SeedTree supervised nursery and plantation projects in Nepal, Nicaragua and the United States;

• producing over 1,730,000 trees of more than 60 species, planted for a host of purposes;

• conducting training workshops in several districts in Nepal on Community Forestry, local seed collection, nursery techniques, and agroforestry;

• initiating integrated rural ecology projects installing toilets, wells, biogas (methane) generation plants which provide fertilizer, lighting and clean-burning cooking fuel;

• prompting a government program for seed collection; contributing to the national policy debate in Nepal on buffer-zone management; and providing extensive data for a government study on seed distribution;

• developing Nepalese staff, sound working relationships with local service organizations and a network of hundreds of volunteers;

• assisting and inspiring other allied non-governmental organizations;

• taking a stand not only for species diversity but for the full participation of oppressed ethnic groups, castes, women and children.

What's in a name?

Seed represents life potential;...
  To 'seed', is to activate that potential.
    So, our 'seed-deeds' strive to both activate and embody,
      like a tree, the principles and procedures most promising for
        ecosystem preservation and renewal...nourishing,
          nourished from above and below, branching out,
            SeedTree... is a type of selective harvest allowing
              a high quality future forest regeneration by leaving
                seedtrees, trees selected to replicate
                  their desirable qualities.


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