Share This Page

Remembering a Legacy of Planting Trees and Building Lives

Dave Deppner, Director of Trees for the Future, talks about the importance of tree planting at a dinner attended by the President of Ethiopia as Grace Deppner looks on.

In our previous blog post on the 2011 International Year of the Forest we highlighted the importance of forests in Africa, which account for the livelihoods of more than half of Africa’s population according to experts. Trees for the Future (TREES) has been instrumental in maintaining this synergy by helping people living on degraded land improve their lives through environmentally sound development projects using trees.

It is with great sadness that we announce that Dave Deppner, who founded TREES 22 years ago, recently lost his battle with cancer and passed away. With the passing last month of Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Wangari Maathai, we have lost two champions of the environmental movement whose compassion helped improve the lives of millions of impoverished people.

The roots of Trees for the Future can be traced back to the 1970s when Dave and Grace, his wife, volunteered with local farmers in the Phillippines. There they witnessed first-hand that planting trees on a wide scale could solve many of the developing world’s problems including deforestation, fuel and food shortages for people and livestock, and overall poverty. Dave found that the key was to sustainably harvest fast growing tree species that could be planted at high-densities and produce enough wood to meet the energy needs of rural populations. These trees also infused agricultural lands with fresh nutrients which slowed erosion and improved crop yields.

Today, TREES operates in 23 countries providing technical knowledge on agroforestry, reforestation, and sustainable development, as well as planting materials. In Africa they have worked with more than 300,000 families in nearly 12,000 communities to plant more than 20 million trees. To help keep Dave’s dream alive, TREES has created the Dave Deppner Legacy Fund.

It is ironic that the world lost two champions of reforestation and sustainable development during this International Year of the Forest.  It is reassuring to know that the work they started, which has benefited millions of people and improved our planet, will continue and grow.