We aren’t just an outdoor lifestyle brand with a tree for our logo, we are a company that’s 100% committed to protecting the outdoors and to serving in our communities around the globe. We’ve been on the Path of Service™ for over 25 years and one of our key initiatives is global tree planting. Why? Because, according to London Telegraph in 2016, the world has lost the equivalent of 1,000 football fields of forests per hour for the last 25 years. That’s far too many trees in our mind so we put our boots on and started cultivating roots. We’ve planted 9,200,000 trees since 2001– and we’re still counting.
REFOREST THE DESERT
It all started back in 2001, when one employee in Japan introduced us to Green Net, a small Japanese NGO with a big dream to re-forest the Horqin Desert in China’s Inner Mongolia. Believe it or not, the Horqin desert had once been a verdant grassland but over time, through overgrazing and misuse of the land, the grassland had become a sandy desert the size of Switzerland. Annual spring windstorms kick up and deposit tons of sand as far away as Japan which negatively impacts air quality. To do our part we sent teams of volunteers to meet Green Net in the Horqin Desert each year to plant grass and trees to hold down the sand. And it’s working. To date, we have planted over 2,000,000 trees in the desert which has allowed wildlife to return to the area. Green Net, meanwhile, has educated local farmers about more sustainable use of the land to reinforce the reforestation effort. Click here to see the difference we have made in the desert.
ROOTS OF ECONOMIC STABILITY
We didn’t stop there, in 2010 we decided to pair up with the Smallholder Farmer’s Alliance (SFA) to plant trees and improve farmers’ lives in Haiti. Over 98% of Haiti has been deforested, making it one of the most deforested countries on the globe. To help revitalize agro-forestry in Haiti we undertook an ambitious five-year tree planting project through which we funded the SFA to develop new tree nurseries. In exchange for working at the tree nurseries, local farmers receive seeds, trees, tools, and training to increase their own crop yields. In return, smallholder farmers share 10% of their profits and produce additional seed stock for the nursery, to be distributed to more farmers, ensuring the sustainability of the model. In response to the changing climate, Haitian farmers have been encouraged to plant a more diverse array of crops, including drought-tolerant plants like Moringa trees. Moringa is a rapidly maturing tree with leaves that, when dried and ground into a powder, are a nutritional superfood. To help moringa become a sustainable revenue stream for the SFA, we helped broker a deal with US nutrition brand Kuli Kuli which sources SFA Moringa for its green energy shots, which are now sold at Whole Foods Markets nationwide.
Timberland aims to transition from an investor to a customer and use Haitian-grown organic cotton in our products in the future. Within just five years, the SFA’s agro-forestry program has established a vibrant cooperative with over 3,200 engaged Haitian farmer members who have planted over five million trees. This has led to a 40% average increase in crop yield and a 50% increase in average income for participating farmers. Most importantly, this has enabled more then 3,400 children to attend school and has increased access to health care for the participating farmers and their families.
We made a documentary film, KOMBIT: The Cooperative, to share our experience in Haiti. Click here to view the documentary trailer to here to watch the 45-minute film.
PROTECTING THE FUTURE
Over the years, we have planted trees in urban orchards, community gardens, and low-income housing communities. We continue to cultivate new and existing partnerships to plant thousands of trees each year in the communities where we live, work and explore.
In celebration of 25 years on the Path of Service™, we look back on our journey, but more importantly, stay focused on the path ahead. Trees are vital in protecting the future and we aspire to plant as many as we can in communities around the globe, one seedling at a time.