Tree Fund Grants Awarded to Four Amazing Groups

To live out the Matthew 25 vision , we have to build people power through genuine relationships, sharing financial and other resources with communities most impacted by poverty and racism, and supporting our congregations as they connect and stand with their communities. One way we are able to do that is through the Presbyterian Tree Fund, approved in 2022, by the 225th General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) with the goal of providing grants for tree-planting and other carbon sequestration projects.

Read more about the history of the Tree Fund here.

We know that any efforts to curb climate change must include reducing human generated greenhouse gas emissions and amplifying efforts to remove such gases from the air. Trees surpass any human made technology in their efficiency and capacity to extract carbon dioxide from the air. Reforestation not only helps to mitigate climate change, in many cases it also helps adaptation to climate change because of trees´ capacity to hold water in the soil.

This year the Presbyterian Hunger Program is pleased to announce that our Advisory Committee was able to allocate more funds to global and domestic partners that actively are curbing the impacts of climate change.  Your continued gifts to the Restoring Creation For Ecology & Justice ECO will allow us to continue crucial tree planting work in the years to come.

Four grants, totaling $26,000, funds which came from a percentage of Presbyterian Mission Agency staff air travel  budgets and voluntary Presbyterian donations, were awarded to the following partners:

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Ekvn-Yefolecv,  in Weogufka, AL, about an hour south of Birmingham in a region that was inhabited by Maskoke before its people were scattered to other parts of North America is  surrounded by timber companies that practice clearcutting forestry. They have sought to rescue a number of land parcels that have been clearcut in order to allow for both natural regeneration as well as planting trees culturally significant to Maskoke People.

Ekvn-Yefolecv is committed to creating vast silvopasture (trees, animals and forage all coexisting on the same land) specifically for carbon sequestration. The funds will be used to plant  fruit and nut trees as well as restoring a vital habitat for the endangered Red Cockaded Woodpecker- a sacred bird to Maskoke People, planting approximately 15,000 longleaf pine trees.

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Farm and Forest Growers Cooperative, in Two Harbors, MN will be focusing on maintaining the Northwoods as a forest canopy  and expanding tree production capacity. According to current ecological research in regards to a changing climate, Northern Minnesota forests are projected to be moving northward over the next 50 years. If the forests of northern Minnesota are allowed to die, their carbon sequestration potential disappears with them.

The Cooperative’s work is to help maintain the Northwoods as a forest canopy using Forest Assisted Migration, which entails collecting seeds in southern and central Minnesota to be planted out in northern Minnesota. These genetically distinct and diverse seed sources have proven to be more resilient, fast growing and healthy in northern Minnesota. Trees cannot walk as fast as climate change is happening, hence the Forest assisted Migration.

A major obstacle is that there are not enough conservation-grade tree seedlings.

The founding growers, small family farms and nurseries, have worked the past three growing seasons to learn how to grow the seedlings and hope to have a real impact on the future health of northern Minnesota forests. Some of the tree seedlings needing to be grown are very difficult to produce. The funds will help expand knowledge through internal training, further develop production systems, and expanding membership, leading to more climate forward seedlings available to be planted and monitored via our partners.

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Soul Fire Farm, in Petersburg, NY is committed to healing the soil and calling carbon back into the soil where it belongs after centuries of devastation from plowing and tillage. To that end, they’ve created perennial polyculture beds with the goal of creating a self maintaining ecosystem that attracts pollinators and increases biodiversity, capturing carbon in the soil as it goes. Silvopasture systems can trap 42 tons of carbon per acre per year and is number nine on Project Drawdown’s list of the most effective ways to battle climate change.

They have established a 3-acre silvopasture of apple, peach, and cherry trees intercropped with elderberry, currant, and native wildflowers with laying hens and Nubian goats to fertilize and graze the pasture alleys between fruit trees. The funds will be used  to continue  carbon sequestration efforts on the land including maintenance of our perennial polycultures and the 3 acre silvopasture as well as  supporting additional planting of shrubs and native flowers.

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Filomena Tomaira Pacsi Association Peru on behalf of the Conservation Committee of Villa El Sol which is a non-registered group of volunteers that started planting trees to remediate the toxic soil and air, contaminated by heavy metals, in La Oroya, Peru. This group will

The elders of La Oroya who helped plant nearly 20,000 trees over the decades take a well deserved rest as they appreciate the beauty of the life they have tended. (Photo by Jed Koball)

work to mitigate the harmful effects of climate change through afforestation and reforestation measures. This will happen in an ecological zone where the necessary geographical conditions have been generated for the trees to grow. The reforestation of trees in the Villa Sol Forest has the objective of providing environmental protection as well as improving the environmental conditions of the province, the most important being carbon fixation and providing protection to the soil. One of the fundamental services that are sought with reforestation is recreation, encouraging local tourism considering the added value of a renewed landscape.

The Conservation Committee will work with the Network of Youth Environmentalists. These students, belonging to six educational institutions in the area, will plant the trees.  The funds will be used to support the tree planting, conservation of biodiversity, creating habitats for fauna as well as local species. Educational campaigns will also be carried out to encourage the care of this area and recognize it as an area of biodiversity and importance for the ecosystem.

The work of the Presbyterian Hunger Program is possible thanks to your gifts to One Great Hour of Sharing.