Saturday, 5 January 2013

How To Grow Rainforest Saver

How To Grow Rainforest Saver

For the last few years I have had the privilege and honour of being involved with a charity I care deeply about. As a gardener, who loves trees and is somewhat concerned about the state of the planet, Rainforest Saver is an organization that I’m very pleased to be a part of. I have seen it grow from difficult beginnings into a charity that, thanks to its UK supporters and its partners, is making a real difference to more sustainable farming in both Honduras and the Cameroons. It is partnerships such as ours that can not only help many poor farmers lift themselves out of poverty, but also ultimately save millions of acres of biodiverse rainforests for all our futures.

What we are trying to prevent. Hillsides that were once lush rainforest made barren by continual slash and burn agriculture.

Yet the scale of what we are trying to do can sometimes feel a bit daunting. At present we are a small charity with a limited membership and income. It was very pleasing in the autumn of 2012 to be able to celebrate the first Inga Alley Harvest in Africa and to know that 20 more farmers will soon be able to follow suit. However, there are so many more farmers that we could help if we only had more funds.  If we are really going to change an entrenched but unsustainable system of agriculture, that is damaging numerous rainforest eco-systems in numerous countries, we have to find the resources to grow. Those resources are to be found not only in our current membership and partners but also in our future ones. If we want to help our partners produce the vital Inga seedlings to get Inga Alley Cropping established in different regions, we need more members, raising more money to enable more sustainable Inga farms to be created.

Rainforest Saver stall at a public meeting

So what are the key ingredients or nutrients that Rainforest Saver needs to grow. We have come into existence at a time when there are more methods to get one’s message across than ever before. The potential of new means of communication such as Facebook, Twitter, skype and blogs is immense and Rainforest Saver is certainly more well known thanks to such media. However, clicking a Like button on a Facebook page won’t of itself provide Rainforest Saver with any more money to fund its vital work. We somehow need to activate some of the interest and awareness generated through such media into more serious commitment to help, which will be shown in increased donations or membership. Such donations and new members are more likely to come about if the person who discovers us on the net, can get involved in a more direct and active manner. If he can go and listen to a talk or take part in an event, or even merely sponsor someone else who is raising money for us, then there is more chance of getting a donation or recruiting a new member. In short, we ourselves need to be more active, giving talks, staging fund-raising events and trying to persuade any likely contenders to join the cause. Yet, I do not pretend this is easy as our limited membership probably all have very active lives already but if enough people are willing to spend a bit more time promoting the charity, we will be able to grow and do so much more.

RFS member repairing and selling bicycles to raise money for Rainforest Saver

As a charity that can play a key role in saving the rainforests, we should have environmentally concerned citizens from all over the world, eager to become members. Our mission is crucial, worthwhile and exciting but there is a huge pool of potential members that still need to be convinced. I believe that we need a more ambitious vision and a more global perspective to convince them. I have just had a look at the Greenpeace web site and was impressed to discover that there are now 50 Greenpeace organizations in different countries. As a charity that is promoting a simple technology that could be used in all rainforest countries, it is not inconceivable to me that at some point in the future, all those countries could have Rainforest Saver organizations, helping to fund and promote our work. Yet before such grandiose plans can even be considered we need to be a much more effective and popular organization within the UK.

First Inga Alley Cropping Maize Harvest in Africa

This is difficult when our limited membership is scattered around the UK. However, we do have two areas where there is a slightly larger membership, Edinburgh where the H.Q. is located and London and the South-east. If each of these areas could organize themselves into more active local groups and plan at least one fund-raising and awareness raising event each year it would make a start. This is not to decry all the individual efforts that have already been made by individual members, for such fund-raising work has been and will continue to be invaluable. However, if we can sometimes work together as groups, there is a potential to raise even more funds and attract more new members. Having written this blog, I now feel a rather uncomfortable obligation to try and set an example. So in the coming week I will try and persuade my fellow members in the South-east of England to collaborate with me to stage some form of fundraising event that will hopefully also raise the profile of Rainforest Saver.

The kind of Rainforest flower that we wish to preserve.

I am painfully aware that I do not have all the answers.  Setting up and running a successful charity is not easy. In many ways it is a tribute to our members that we have managed to achieve so much in such a short space of time. However, I do believe we could achieve so much more with a larger more involved membership. I am under no illusions that achieving such a goal will be either quick or easy but I’m hoping that in writing this blog, I might encourage a few more people to take a more active part in Rainforest Saver. With more support we can help numerous poor farmers lift themselves out of poverty and also help save some of the most precious eco-systems on our planet.

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