A “Bonafide Miracle Tree”!
New Report Confirms the Many Environmental, Economic and Social Impacts of the Eco-Tree Program
The Social and Environmental Impacts of the World Tree Eco-Tree Program report, prepared for World Tree by NatureBank, has provided us with a fabulous overview of the many environmental, as well as economic and social, benefits of World Tree’s Eco-Tree Program and the Empress Splendor (genus Paulownia) tree on which it is based. The lead author even declared the Empress Splendor to be a “bonafide miracle tree”. We agree!
Here’s what the report found:
Eats carbon for breakfast
Empress Splendor (Empress) trees are the fastest-growing trees in the world both in terms of height and volume. They can grow up to a remarkable 20 feet in one year and reach hardwood maturity in only 10 years. The Empress tree’s rapid growth is partially fueled by their highly efficient method of photosynthesis typically found in grasses and in only a handful of other trees on the planet.
In optimum growing conditions the tree can sequester up to 54 tons of carbon per acre per year at 10 years of age, and 90 tons at 20 years. This is equivalent to the annual carbon footprint of four average North Americans. Pretty cool. What this means is our investors can effectively offset their carbon footprints for themselves and their families for each year of their 10-year investment cycle. Not a bad return on investment!
Another important way the World Tree Eco-Tree Program contributes to reversing climate change is that by creating a program of fast-growing timber to satisfy the world’s growing demand for lumber, we are helping to avoid further degradation and deforestation of our planet’s intact natural forests. Old growth forests, in particular, are massive carbon sinks and are considered the “lungs of the planet”. Let’s leave these precious resources alone and grow eco-timber on land already cleared for farming purposes.
Provides nectar to feed pollinating insects
Under most growing conditions, Empress trees can flower as early as 3-years old. Their beautiful, fragrant blossoms are very high in nectar making the tree a highly “nectariferous” species that attracts bees and other pollinating insects. One acre of Empress trees is estimated to generate enough nectar to produce 100 jars of honey every year. Some of World Tree’s farmers are experimenting with raising honey bees amongst the trees.
Pollination is a critical ecosystem service facilitating reproduction and dispersal in crops. Without pollinating insects, about one third of global agriculture would not be possible. Intercropping Empress trees with crops such as coffee, as many of our farmers in Latin America are doing, helps ensure the crops’ survival and the health of many other plants.
Takes nitrogen out of the air and converts it into soil nutrients
The planet’s soil is in crisis. This massive depletion in its natural elements is due to industrial agricultural practices and desertification, actions fueled by climate change. Many crops can no longer grow without large applications of chemical fertilizers including synthetic nitrogen.
Empress trees are part of a unique family of trees on the planet known as nitrogen-fixing trees. They have the incredible ability to convert atmospheric nitrogen into useable soil nutrients. The nodules on their large leaves host a type of bacteria that can convert nitrogen from the air into the leaves. When the leaves fall to the ground and decay, they provide a powerful natural fertilizer that replenishes the soil. The interaction between the root nodules and soil bacteria also fixes nitrogen into the soil.
We have witnessed extremely poor, and even contaminated, soil be brought back to life after only a few years of growing Empress trees on it. Our pioneering trees can play a critical role in repairing soil so that other crops can thrive.
Economic and social impacts
For our farmers
The Eco-Tree program is designed to create an incentive for small to medium-sized landowners to plant Empress trees and to share with us in the profits when the trees are harvested for lumber. We provide the trees to the farmers at no cost with money raised from our impact investors. We share 50% of the profits from the sale of the lumber with the farmers after 10 years.
In the Southeastern US, World Tree farmers are often planting Empress trees on un-forested, degraded cropland where other crops will not grow or are not economically viable. As mentioned above, Empress trees can grow well in very poor soil conditions and will replenish the soil making it suitable for other crops in the future.
Many of our farmers in Costa Rica and Guatemala are planting Empress trees together with coffee and other shade-loving crops. Additionally, the trees act as a wind barrier and help hold the soil in place on steep slopes, and the tree blossoms attract pollinating insects essential for crop survival.
Most importantly, the Eco-Tree program creates a new revenue stream for farmers in areas where economic opportunities are often constrained by weak market access and lack of infrastructure. Learn more about our farmer program: worldtree.info/free-tree-program-for-farmers/.
For our investors
The Eco-Tree program is possible because of individuals who want to diversify their investments into the things they really care about – helping the planet and people. Investors can invest a minimum of $3,000 for which we will plant one acre of trees dispersed across our diverse planting areas.
The investment is held for 10 years while the trees grow to maturity. After the trees are harvested and sold, investors receive 25% of the net profits. The investment can become part of a legacy people create for their children or grandchildren.
Not only do our investors have an opportunity to participate in a financial return, they also effectively offset their carbon footprint equivalent to 4 people, per acre, per year making the world a better place for everyone. Learn more about our investor program: /worldtree.info/invest2019/.
Invest in future prosperity for all
The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are a “universal call to action to end poverty, protect the planet, ensure that all people enjoy peace and prosperity”. We are proud that our Eco-Tree program is contributing directly to meeting 7 of the 17 SDGs: No Poverty, Gender Equality, Decent World and Economic Growth, Responsible Consumption and Production, Climate Action, Life on Land and Partnerships for the Goals.
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