What is the Environment & Development programme about?

Offering support to local organizations in their project, reconciling the development of economic activities and environmental protection: these are the issues addressed by the "Environment & Development" programme that was implemented in 2006 by PU.

Environment and development are closely linked. For the most fortunate among us, the natural environment provides us with the resources necessary for our daily lives, in terms of food, energy, construction and our environment. However, immediate needs and inadequate management often lead to overexploitation of natural resources, preventing them from regenerating and continuing to provide essential long term services: combating erosion, collecting and filtering water, food, timber, etc.

PU works with a view to matching needs and resources in order to support rural communities to protect and sustainably use their environment. The association provides technical and financial support and support for local project organizers in countries that are particularly vulnerable to climate disturbances. In Indonesia, Haiti, Madagascar and Mali, our teams work in partnership with local organizations to develop economically viable activities to ensure sustainable incomes for the populations and a more protected environment.

Between 2006 and 2018, PU achieved the following:

  • 6,900,000 trees planted,
  • 15,000 beneficiary families,
  • 781 partners.

Protected and restored woodland

Support for land management and reforestation, development of economic activities (creation of essential oils, fruit and fodder production, sustainable aquaculture, etc). Strengthening the link between the act of planting and generating income increases the sustainability of planted trees.

An efficient "wood for energy" sector

Managed areas for firewood production, training charcoal producers, distributing improved domestic stoves to needy families that produce up to 35% savings on wood used for cooking. As wood is often the only readily available source of energy for rural families and as it is an ecological as well as an economic issue, it is essential to develop more efficient use. In Mali, for example, 12,000 improved stoves have been distributed.

In total, 15,000 families have benefited from the actions under the Environment & Development programme and over 4 million trees have been planted in four countries: Mali, Indonesia, Haiti and Madagascar.

The reforestation aspect of the Environment & Development programme is part of the Billion Tree Campaign launched by Wangari Maathai (Nobel Prize for Peace in 2004 and founder of the Green Belt Movement in Kenya), now managed by the Plant for the Planet foundation and supported by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).

Plant a tree: an ecological and economic gesture

More than just a natural element, trees are the cornerstone of human development, one of the foundations of ecology, and universal economic, ecological and social contributors. The work of the FAO ("Global Forest Resources Assessment 2010" report) established that between 2000 and 2010, an average of 13 million hectares of forest were being lost every year, either converted to other uses (mainly into agricultural land) or destroyed by natural causes, as against 16 million hectares per year in the 1990s. Strategies for reforestation and the expansion of natural forests in other areas have helped to expand these forests by 5.2 million hectares, reducing the net loss of forest to 5.2 million hectares (the equivalent of the area of Costa Rica every year).

Ecological role

In addition to producing oxygen, forests help to maintain plant and animal species, regulate the water cycle, protect soil and maintain the general climate balance. They are indispensable in sustaining the ecosystem of our planet and people's lives.

  • Climate balance and carbon storage: on a regional basis, each stratum of a forest (bushes, canopy, grasses, etc.) stabilizes the local climate. Globally, forests can sequester carbon to reduce the concentration of greenhouse gas emissions and thereby slow global warming.
  • Soil protection and fresh water regulation: organic matter, from biodegradation, helps stabilize soil structure. A large network of roots associated with a humus layer increases its water retention capacity and thus reduces fluctuations in river flow, filters pollutants and feeds the water table with good quality water.
  • Ecosystem conservation: according to some estimates, the total number of species living on earth is probably between 3 and 10 million, 1.5 million of which have been scientifically identified. Forests have very concentrated biodiversity, with 50-75% of all species originating in tropical rainforests. The uncertainty about the exact number of life forms on earth explains the imprecision of the current figures.

Economic role

  • Energy from wood: for many people in the tropics, wood and charcoal are the only energy sources available. More than two billion people depend on wood for energy for cooking and / or heating, mainly in developing countries. Today, wood is the main source of renewable energy (equivalent to all other renewable energy sources combined), providing more than 9% of the total primary energy supply worldwide (extract of the 2012 FAO report the world's forests).
  • Timber: Products made by hand, mainly from wood and other forest products provide a livelihood for at least 100 million artisans and their families in rural communities (Scherr, White and Kaimowitz, 2004); the exploitation and export of timber to developed countries is also an important economic sector.
  • Non-timber products: forests also produce many products other than wood itself, such as fruit, gums, resins, bark, essences, colors, game, medicinal substances, etc. Long before wood, these production sectors were the things that drove lucrative international trade to explore tropical forests.