About This Cause
We value collaborative and innovative change making. At the heart of these values is the desire to support people as leaders and stewards of their own growth and development.
We acknowledge and assert that Africa is the "epitome of resilience" and home to "technological geniuses, artists, activists, scholars and thriving despite slavery, colonization and continued exploitation by western countries in the present day."
(quotes from Chidera Ihejirika's 2018 article in Afropunk.)
Our foundational program is the ecosystem restoration program (ERP). At its heart is our native plant nursery. The nursery is the primary platform from which ERP supports the reclamation and revitalization of native plant species within the framework of sustainable systems. It is a center for learning and research, a place where local and regional members of the Togolese community attend hands on workshops to learn about and explore sustainable practices for reforestation and afforestation efforts. It is also central to fostering citizen science and community-based understanding of climate change mitigation and adaptation measures. It provides information and vital mitigation measures that are location specific and community managed. The nursery out planting site is a multi-fold operation. Not only is it a place to increase forested land in Togo, but it is also the primary site for long-term native tree research and agroforestry experimentation. It is an important outdoor environment for citizen science in local and regional communities. All information gathered at the nursery and out planting site is made available for easy replication and adaptability in other regions and communities.
Agroforestry is a strong component of the Ecosystem Restoration Program (ERP). Based on our own field observations and supported by multiple studies (FAO 2018, FCPF 2015, Kokou et al. 2008), forest degradation in Togo is caused by agricultural practices and unsustainable land use. Additionally, like other Sub-Saharan African countries, most Togolese households rely on wood fuel as a source of energy for cooking. In Togo, fuelwood and charcoal account for more than 80% of the national household energy consumption. Land-use conversion and non-native timber plantations have serious impacts on the health of the soil as well as ecosystem processes.
ERP employs agroforestry, a land management approach that provides opportunities to integrate productivity and profitability with environmental stewardship, which results in healthy agriculture and forest systems.
• Effective land use by mixing reforestation and agricultural production, which will limit the total land size for agriculture.
• Production and plantation of nitrogen species for agroforestry to support sustainable crop production and agroforestry enterprises. Trees help control runoff and soil erosion, thereby reducing losses of water, soil material, organic matter and nutrients at levels satisfactory for soil fertility.
• Maximization of financial gain for farmers who will benefits from the sale of forest products. Agroforestry provides a more diverse farm economy and stimulate the whole rural economy, leading to more stable farms and communities.
Lolonu is comprised of 75 women who participate together in cultural activities, community cleanup efforts, operate a community farm and work together to support one another. In 2016, they partnered with the ICPSD ERP to learn and assist with agroforestry practices. They now fully implement these at their farm site. They have also taken charge of caretaking for the ICPSD native plant nursery. In this role, Lolonu performs daily monitoring of the seedlings, collection of data, and watering. After the seedlings are planted, they clean and store containers until the next round of seedlings are started. Lolonu hosts workshops at the nursery with numerous stakeholders from across the country, teaching best practices for growing native plant species. They also lead efforts in teaching the local community about growing and planting native plants and responsible agroforestry practices.
Communities in Togo rely heavily on small family farming. This also makes them more susceptible to the ramifications of climate change. The introduction of trees increases forest cover and improves soil quality through nutrient restoration, water retention, and carbon retention. It can also provide a replenishing approach to wood fuels, a large cause for deforestation in Togo.
Community participation and leadership are the cornerstone of all ICPSD operations, including ERP. Overseen by a local forest and restoration specialist, the native plant nursery provides a place accessible to all community members in which to learn, research and troubleshoot agroforestry approaches in their unique context. Workshops put on by a local women’s cooperative – Lolonu – help educate local and regional leaders and community members in native plant restoration and agroforestry efforts.
By partnering with communities, local organizations and local units of government, local community members have better access to resources, support and participation that enhance local capacity while also establishing precedent for sustainable growth into the future.
Our other project is the Youth Community Development Program (YCDP). It is designed to facilitate leadership development that supports the personal and professional growth of participants. It supports local middle and high school aged students as they explore ways to build local capacity, self-reliance, and knowledge for the betterment and sustainability of their community. As a group, students elect peer leadership as well as the leadership initiatives they would like to learn about and share with the community. Youth are involved in the workshops, out planting and more with ERP.
ICPSD was incorporated as a nonprofit organization in the state of Idaho in 2012. Official operations began and 501(c)(3) tax status was received in January of 2015.