The International Small Group and Tree Planting Program (TIST)
The International Small Group and Tree Planting Program, otherwise known as TIST, empowers small groups of subsistence farmers in countries such as Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda, India, Honduras and Nicaragua to reverse the devastating effects of deforestation, drought, and famine. Since 1999, TIST participants have been identifying local sustainable development goals that include tree planting and sustainable agriculture. TIST creates a communication and administrative structure that also addresses health (including HIV/AIDS), education, and nutrition. TIST expects to provide long-term revenue for the Small Group participants through the sale of greenhouse gas credits (GhG).
The loss of trees and the continuing use of some agricultural practices hurt the land and threaten the lives of subsistence farmers. The world’s poorest farmers depend on having healthy land for their very survival. They often clear trees off land for new farms. Removing trees exposes the ground to drying winds. Erosion from intense rains removes the rich top soil. Eventually the soil “dies” and farmers move to other land, clear trees, and begin the cycle again.
Planting trees makes a difference… Planting millions of trees recovers environments and changes lives. Trees provide shade and windbreaks for people, animals, and crops. Trees prevent erosion. Some types of trees improve soil quality. Others provide fruits, nuts, animal food, timber, medicines, bee habitats, and even insecticides. Trees can mark borders around homes, farms, roads, and paths. Groves of trees can become a village woodlot. Native grasses grow again under the trees and provide food for animals. Children can grow up enjoying the beauty and other benefits from trees.
TIST goes beyond mere ‘sustainability’ by enabling the current generation of farmers to meet its needs in a way that enhances the ability of future generations to meet their needs. Small Groups are excited by this program and know it will leave a legacy for their children. This is why TIST has grown from 40 groups in one region in Tanzania in 1999 to over 5,000 Small Groups with over 40,000 members across eight regions and four countries in 2008, and why over 6 million trees are alive today as a result.
For more infromation on how to get involved with TIST please visit their website here.