Plant a Tree!
Maasai Mara & Souss Morocco
We support the planting of indigenous trees in two areas of vital environmental and cultural importance that have been deforested, and we need your help. This project was launched on Martin Luther King Day 2021, with a joint ceremonial planting in California, Morocco, and Kenya.
In Kenya... in a critical habitat and corridor for wildlife in the heart of the Maasai Mara, nestled between the Maasai Mara National Reserve and community-owned conservancies (more)
In Morocco... in the only habitat of the indigenous argan tree, also called "The Tree of Life," a region sadly denuded of these trees in recent years (more)
Maasai Mara, Kenya (why here?)
The Maasai Mara ecosystem is home to 25% of Kenya's wildlife, with over 90 mammal species and 470 species of birds. Many of the world's most endangered and iconic species live here, including lions, cheetahs, savannah elephants, wild dogs, black rhinoceros, and Maasai giraffes. This is also the seat of the Great Migration, when from July to October each year over a million animals — wildebeests, zebras, elands,Thompson's gazelles — travel from the Serengeti in Tanzania to the Mara and back.
We are supporting the local Maasai community as they reforest areas along the Talek River and north of Aitong. Sandwiched between the Maasai Mara National Reserve and community-owned wildlife conservancies, these places are also much-needed corridors for wildlife passing through. This is a large project that will plant thousands of trees over several years.
Amos Kipeen demonstrates the native species that will be planted. As part of this project, the community will also plant trees at local schools to engage the students in forestry. At the upcoming Maasai Mara Sustainability Center, we also plan to create a cultural arboretum for the community, to help preserve the traditional medicinal use and cultural value of these indigenous trees.
Souss, Morocco (why here?)
The argan tree grows in a particular region of southern Morocco a bit south of Agadir — and no where else in the world. It is such an important tree to the local Amazigh that they call it "the Tree of Life." Women have been making precious argan oil by hand from the fruit of this tree for millennia, and they support their families through this enterprise. Argan trees also preserve the soil in this arid region, and critically these days, they provide a natural barrier to the spreading desertification happening in this part of the world. UNESCO has declared the argan trees of this region a Global Human Legacy.
Sadly, argan trees have been disappearing at an astonishing rate, because of climate change and human activity. But the community here wants to restore the argan forests as much as possible. We are supporting a restoration in and around the village of Ait Oumanouz, in partnership with teachers, students, and a community association. Preserving and replanting argan trees is greatly beneficial for the environment, for Amazigh culture, and for women and children.
Listen to the student Hamza, as he helps you imagine the setting of the ancient argan.
Ali Amhal explains the argan project from his community center in Biougra, the base of operations.
"In less than a century, tree density has decreased from 100 to 30 trees per hectare."
Morocco's Tree of Life in Decline, World Agroforestry
How It's Educational
In both regions, students are involved in all the plantings. We have developed libraries there that have a significant portion of materials on local nature and environmental topics for student research. Teachers turn this into a learning opportunity.
In Kenya, we will develop a cultural arboretum at the Maasai Mara Sustainability Center that will demonstrate and preserve the traditional medicinal use and cultural meaning of the indigenous trees being planted. The teams here are also planting trees at local schools, with students involved in learning about the trees and caring for them as an ongoing activity.
In Morocco, students and community members in the Souss are writing essays, poems, and stories about local nature and traditions, and we will publish an anthology of these writings in an ebook and in print for libraries.