As climate change threatens our world and all of us who call it home, EF Education First intends to do our part to help ensure a more sustainable future for generations to come. We recently announced Hello Zero, our commitment to being carbon negative starting in 2021.
Our goal with Hello Zero is to eventually become historically carbon neutral, removing as much carbon dioxide from the atmosphere as our activities have put into it since our founding in 1965. The first step toward our Hello Zero vision is the EF Forest Initiative, a project to create and conserve forests around the world. Our first partner is Eden Reforestation Projects, a non-profit leader in global reforestation and ecological restoration, to plant 3 million native-species mangrove trees this year in Kenya, Madagascar and Mozambique.
What’s a mangrove?
Mangroves are trees and shrubs that live where the ocean meets the sea, in so-called intertidal zones. Mangroves typically have intertwined, stilt-like roots that allow them to withstand the daily rise and fall of the tides.
There are 80 different species of mangrove, ranging in height from two to 10 meters (six to 32 feet). Mangrove forests (sometimes also referred to as mangroves) are large groups of individual mangrove trees. They are only found along tropical and sub-tropical coastlines because the trees cannot survive cold weather.
The first three EF Forest sites—in Kenya, Madagascar, and Mozambique—will plant native species of mangrove trees, including the grey or white mangrove, the loop-root or red mangrove, and the spurred mangrove (Avicenna marina, Rhizophora mucronata, and Ceriops tagal).
Why are mangroves important?
Mangroves are unusual looking and one of the few species of trees that can thrive in saltwater. But their environmental value far exceeds their unique appearance and habitat. Mangroves store up to 5x more carbon dioxide per hectare than tropical rainforests. Because mangroves store most carbon in their root systems and the neighboring soil, they act as carbon ‘sinks’, locking it away for generations, far longer than terrestrial forests that store most of their carbon in their trunk and branches.
Mangroves provide shelter to young marine life growing amongst their roots, and habitat for a wide range of insects, birds, reptiles, and mammals, some of which are endangered.
Thanks to their unique root structures and coastal locations, mangroves also offer effective, natural protection against coastal flooding, storms, and erosion.
When mangrove forests are restored, they remove more carbon from the atmosphere, flooding and soil erosion decline, and a multitude of species regain lost breeding and feeding habitats.
Add it all up and mangrove forests restoration is one of the planet’s best and most important defenses against climate change. The EF Forest Initiative, in partnership with Eden Reforestation Projects, is our way of restoring and ensuring the health of this incredible habitat, and the whole world.
Why is EF partnering with Eden?
We have partnered with Eden Reforestation Projects for the launch of the EF Forest Initiative because they share our vision and have the scale and expertise to achieve it.
Eden focuses on regions heavily impacted by deforestation and highly impoverished because, with few options to support their families, members of impoverished communities often cut down local trees for fuel, heat, and farming purposes. Deforestation leads to flooding, erosion, and desertification, which create more economic hardship.
Eden helps restore healthy forests and reduce extreme poverty by providing fair-wage employment to villagers who plant native tree species. Since 2005, Eden has planted more than 500 million trees, adding 20 million more each month. EF is proud to support their essential work.