Growing trees in a nursery is just one way to bring forests back. In Brazil, for instance, we're paying firefighters to keep human-made fires at bay. In Burkina Faso, we dig half-moon-shaped seedbeds. In Malawi, meanwhile, we're using radio to grow trees — no nursery required! Listen to the Ecosia podcast (or read on) to learn how — and how well — this innovative method works.
Twice a week, our partners at Farm Radio Trust broadcast a radio show about why and how to grow trees.
Millions of farmers listen to it — and interact with it. Some of them call to talk to one of the experts on the show. Others send in their questions via text message. Our partner also runs a call center for those who require information after the show has gone off the air.
Personal testimonies, interviews with experts, as well as drama and poetry get a simple but vital message across: we don't have to choose between agriculture and trees. When crops and trees coexists, farms thrive. The trees create a protective microclimate, they provide shade and moisture, and they revitalize the soil — not to mention that an agroforestry system captures around 60 metric tons of carbon per hectare.
Parts of the radio show are more technical. After all, the farmers don't just need to know why trees are important, but also how to grow them on their fields. One tree-planting technique is highlighted in particular: Farmer Managed Natural Regeneration, or FMNR. If you leave a field alone, trees tend to start growing on it. That's because there are hidden root systems and seeds underneath the field. But due to grazing animals, firewood collection, or other farming activities, those trees rarely get the chance to grow to maturity. FMNR does not just consist in letting the trees grow, but also in accelerating this regeneration process by pruning the trees. As we explained in a previous episode of the Ecosia podcast, this is an extremely efficient technique to bring trees back — without putting a single sapling in the ground.
The broadcast helps us plant trees while encouraging social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic. Since the show promotes FMNR, farmers can grow trees without attending a crowded nursery. And radio is a great way to communicate with millions of farmers without risking infecting any of them.
This program is also easily scalable. As more people start using Ecosia, millions more farms in Malawi could benefit. And that, in turn, would help us all.