Nepal is one of the poorest and least developed countries in the world and rural villagers in Nepal directly depend on their natural environment for food, shelter, and income. When the local environment is damaged or destroyed, the poor are the first to feel the negative effects. Forced to live on marginal lands, they are at greatest risk. Without financial resources or the knowledge to manage vulnerable resources in a sustainable way, they often further degrade their lands in order to survive. In this way, the problem perpetuates their poverty.
The good news is Eden Reforestation Projects has launched the Employ to Plant program to alleviate extreme poverty through environmental stewardship and we are already seeing incredible results. Entire villages are being lifted out of poverty as they plant trees to restore their forests, and children are in school instead of going daily to the forests to cut and carry logs for fuelwood. Further, healthy forest systems mean water tables rise, water purity improves, agricultural production increases, and wildlife habitats are restored. The wage our village employees receive empowers parents to provide for their families, even as they continue to work their small plot farms.