Not Everything About Brazil is in the News

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Source: Tools ‹ Rainforesteco’s Blog — WordPress

It’s been a minute…

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Source: Tools ‹ Rainforesteco’s Blog — WordPress

Stories of Seed Balls and Seed Bombs and Trees and People

I’ve noticed recently, that there’s a great deal of interest in the idea of dropping seed balls from drones and planes, with the intention of restoring degraded land. So I’m asking you to play with me for a moment, while we consider if this is effective as part of a solution to global warming.

Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s a wonderful practice, when it’s done over receptive soil, with help of adequate rain to coax the seedling to life and sustain its growth. But I’m also noticing in our desire for a quick fix for a big challenge, that we’re not all thinking about the conditions required for growth of the trees to maturity.

Think of it this way. Have you ever planted, with the BEST OF INTENTIONS, a garden from seeds, that for one reason or another (oops, I forgot about them while I went on vacation), withered instead of flourished, in your beautifully prepared soil? Or perhaps you’ve tried planting seeds of something you love, that didn’t appreciate the soil conditions they were sown in?

It’s not just the color of you thumb. It happens all the time in large scale planting projects without soil preparation, adequate water and field maintenance. Here’s a bit of history we don’t need to repeat…

Nigerian tree seedling.001

Of the 50 million seedlings planted every year in the 11 northern Nigeria states worst effected by desertification, 37.5 million wither and die within two months, environmental officials say. Read more…

On the other hand, have you experienced planting seeds in good soil that were well cared for before being transplanted to the soil outdoors? Did they take off and thrive? YES!

Garden Seedlings

So while that’s an over simplification, keep it in mind as you learn about some of the different ways seed balls are being used around the world.

Here’s a really informative post about how the idea of making seed balls was originated by Masanobu Fukuoka, for restoration of pastures.


Seeds balls are an ancient technique for propagating plants from seeds without opening up soil with cultivation tools such as a plow.

The rediscovery and popularization of seedballs (or “Clay Dumplings” as he called them) in modern times is typically ascribed to Japanese natural farmer and philosopher Masanobu Fukuoka. Read more…

Here’s a sweet video about using seed balls to plant wildflowers on banks of streams in Texasthat works beautifully under those conditions…

Here’s a post about tree seed balls being planted by hand in receptive areas, and providing maintenance afterward, that seems to be working well in India.


“We began to mix the seeds with mud and cow dung,” Vikas says. “We made little balls of them, sort of like laddus and they helped to bring down the mortality rate of trees by 50%. The cow dung helps to keep animals and pests away, and we see to it that we plant them in area.” Read more…

And then we have a seed bombing method developed by someone at Lockheed Martin.


Peter Simmons, from Lockheed Martin said: “Equipment we developed for precision planting of fields of landmines can be adapted easily for planting trees.” Read more…

Here’s a report about using tree seed balls to plant degraded land in Kenya, by helicopter that’s gotten a lot of buzz lately, via video that’s been going viral on Facebook!


“We just planted 20,000 tree seeds in less than 20 minutes.” Read more…

Here’s a report about the potential for large scale mangrove restoration with seed balls planted by drones, in Myanmar. And I highly recommend watching the video produced after the article quoted below was written. Click on the drone image below and start at 13 min for the section on Myanmar.


Armed with a drone and the capacity to fire 5,000 seeds an hour, can this new technology be the way forward for Myanmar’s mangrove crisis? Read more…

This is an exciting test run for a potentially wonderful planting method for wetlands, while it’s too early to see the results. Their team is going back in August to do a very large planting, and we’ll look at the results of the first planting later this year and next.

Mangroves, because of the moisture, are the very likely places for drone plantings to survive. Biocarbon Engineering recognizes this by stating they only plant wetlands, in their FAQ. This is very good!

And, while the BioCarbon Engineering speaker on the video, made the claim that seeds planted this way in March would create a living shield that would grow to protect the villages from cyclones this year, it’s not possible. The hosting organization knows this since their hand planting experience has shown that it took three years for transplants to reach the size that’s being claimed as achievable in months from seed.

I truly hope this drone planting method for mangroves produces great results without any needed exaggeration for effect!

Time will tell…

Meanwhile, I’m still motivated to help humans learn how to bring soil back to life using organic practices, grow trees from native seeds to saplings, and earn a fair wage to plant them in the field, and take care of them until they become a forest once again. The photos below are from a two year progress report of trees we sponsored in 2011. I can hardly wait to go back to see how big they are now!

iGiveTrees: Our Trees Grow!
I love the results and the people involved! If you do too, please support our ongoing projects in rural Brazil by clicking on a photo on the top left side of this page!!!
students of Cunha
Meet our 2019 Brazilian planting partners…


A new dimension of the work has been added to the Rainforest ECO offerings: Forestscaping. Working with the Miyawaki Method of afforestation, in collaboration with Shubhendu Sharma,  we now offer consulting and forestscape design for urban areas.

This TEDtalk by Shubhendu gives you a clear idea of what’s entailed in the process:


2018 UPDATE: The time spent in Paris last year (2017) changed the trajectory of my work, by expanding it greatly. I now have a website hosted by the French OpenTeam: www.openteam.co/alanalea

And thanks to OpenTeam, I was able to participate in COP23 in Bonn, where I became the producer of a side-event for Project Drawdown.

Beyond that, in the interest of bringing this post up to date, French President Emmanuel Macron has been in the United States for the last few days, offering the symbolic planting of a tree on the White House grounds, and giving a rousing talk to the US Congress.

2017: You’ve probably seen this clip by now, and heard these words, spoken within hours after the US withdrew from the Paris Climate Agreement by Emmanuel Macron, President of France.

“To all scientists, engineers, entrepreneurs, responsible citizens who were disappointed by the decision of the president of the United States, I want to say that they will find in France a second homeland,” he continued. “I call on them: come and work here with us. To work together on concrete solutions for our climate, our environment. I can assure you, France will not give up the fight.”


And while this was going on, so was the preparation of a letter of invitation by my colleagues in Paris, who are asking me to come there to work with them as soon as possible.

I could leave for Paris as soon as this month to begin working on behalf of a multitude of small projects –– citizen initiatives like iGiveTrees –– who were also recognized by the French Ministry of Environment for their efforts, and are struggling for funding. OpenTeam writes:

“Open Team recognizes her as a “pollinator” who is able to share resources and build collaborative networks, among players that do their part to mitigate the effects of climate change. As such, we’d value her consultation with us here in Paris, to help us build the pollinator network with the aim to develop the platforms outreach strategy and implementation, boost the support that it brings to projects and thereby multiply the impact of each project.”

With Great Fullness,

Alana Lea – Founder iGiveTrees Project

Laureate of “100 Projects for the Climate”

with support of the French Ministry of the Environment, Energy and the Se

Continuing the momentum of COP 21, “100 projects for climate” aims to speed up the emergence of citizen-led initiatives to combat global warming. This new participative step, building on the valuable discussions of the Paris-Climate Conference, will enable the 100 most innovative solutions from around the world to become a reality. 

~ French Ministry of Ecology

Planting Hope in Young Hearts

Earth Day 2017 – I was invited to give a talk at the beautiful Manzanita School in Topanga, California. Now we’d like to share a few highlights of the talk with you…

The Power of Cookies – be sure to see the photo at the bottom…

Brazil is Home to 33% of the World’s Remaining Rainforests

Rainforest Regeneration is Possible

Former Coffee Country

Organic Agroforestry

Planning an Urban Food Forest

The Abundance of the Earth

4per1000 and Kiss the Ground – Compost Story

More on the 4 per 1000 “A 4‰ annual growth rate of the soil carbon stock would make it possible to stop the present increase in atmospheric CO2.”

So what are we waiting for? Let’s do this.

With gratitude for the awesome cookie baking moms who helped the project grow in 2011. Some of them were in the audience, taping and editing the video for this talk at Manzanita. I was there at the invitation of the young man seen with me in the photo above, the boy seen in the bottom right of the photo below…

With gratitude to Nutiva for providing CHOCOLATE snacks in 2017 🙂



Let’s Go: Drawdown


You will note, that Van Jones “liked” the link above when I shared it on Facebook 🙂 so I hope you’ll like what it represents here!

Seriously, this book, Drawdown, is filled with verifiable good news. And since returning from participation in COP22, the iGiveTrees project has refined focus to 4 of the Top 30 solutions to global warming:

Assets and Resources Being Shared Among Global Citizen Initiatives


Ever since we were invited to participate in 100 Projects for the Climate by Mission Publique, I could feel the direction of the wind had changed. It was now at our backs, rather than blustering at gale force in front of us. It’s a lot easier to move forward now.

We placed as #64 out of 100 projects, and then participated in a survey of needs to assess what’s needed to increase capacity. If you’re interested in the results of the survey, just click here or on the image to be directed to a fascinating collection of statistics, pie charts and word clouds! I learned that as a North and South American female over 50, I am most definitely in the minority among the contestants.

The French Ministry of Environment, Energy and Sea launched this global initiative with the following criterions:
  • Projects led by citizens

  • Innovative

  • Repeatable at a broader scale

  • Already in activity or close to be

  • In relation with climate change

It appears that we all need two of the same things: funding and visibility. So a series of webinars is being offered during the month of October, through the French Ministry, to help us to develop and share our resources.

And those of us who are able to raise funds to participate in COP22 will meet in Marrakesh this November. I’m nearly there, so if you’d like to help sponsor my full on participation, please feel free to make a NON tax-deductible donation right here, or to mail a check to our fiscal sponsor, the EarthWays Foundation before the end of September.

I’ll be back with more news as it reveals itself to me…



Q. When Trees are Planted in the Forest, Do They Make Music?

Q. When Trees are Planted in the Forest, Do They Make Music?
A. They do if iGiveTrees raised the money to plant them!

When you contribute by clicking on the photos or orange banners on the right column, you receive downloads of music from recording artists who support this campaign!

Since our beginning, the project has attracted a range of supporting recording artists: Rickie Byars Beckwith (founder of the Agape International Choir), Faith Rivera (Emmy-winning Singer, Songwriter), Daniel Nahmod (Humanity Music Co.) and Nimo (Empty Hands Music) are among them.

Today we’re so pleased to share the news of 500 more trees that have been planted in the Atlantic Rainforest due to our fundraising efforts! These trees were planted at SINAL the inspiring environmental education center I first visited after Rio+20 in 2012.

Harvard is Planting at SINAL

A group of undergraduates from Harvard were part of the learning journey.

As part of a generous donation made to SINAL thanks to the iGiveTrees Campaign, we were able to plant 500 trees in some of the most degraded lands of our property. This planting was particular special because we were able to obtain saplings from two highly threatened tree species that are nearly extinct – Jussara and Jacaranda Caviuna. Jussara trees have little blue berries, similar to the acai berry, that are edible; however, the tree has been brutely cut down for years for its palm heart, that while delicious, is deadly to the tree. In fact, the tree has become so endangered that it is actually a federal crime to cut down a tree and can land one in jail. Yet somehow, it continues to happen.

The process of planting these trees was quite special as well because of several reasons. Firstly, in our search for the 500 saplings, we took several journeys to different nurseries in the area. Specifically, we discovered that the state water treatment company has reforestation projects throughout the area where they produce saplings. They understand that the forested hills of the Mata Atlantica are what allows the entire city of Rio de Janeiro to have fresh water – therefore, restoring the degraded lands is absolutely essential to them. We visited two different nurseries, each with a different variety of species. Therefore, we were able to maximize the biodiversity of the 500 trees we planted.

Secondly, throughout the process of the tree planting, we were able to include many diverse groups of people to planting. From local community members in the town of Santo Antonio, to international volunteers, to a group of undergraduate Harvard students who came for a  learning journey at SINAL, many hands and hearts were part of the planting. It was very touching to see how inspired people were to be able to be part of the planting – there is something very special about getting to plant a tree in the Mata Atlantica. We are very, very grateful for the donation and are honored to have been able to be part of it.

The following is a list of species from the Mata Atlantica that we planted:

Euterpeedulis (jussara)*,
Garcinia sp. (bacupari),
Jacaratia spinosa (mamao do mato),
Eugenia brasiliensis (grumixama),
Spondias morbin (caja mirim),
Inga vera (inga),
Zeyheria tuberculosa (ipe felpudo),
Dalbergia nigra (jacaranda caviuna)*,
Senna sp. (aleluia),
Cedrela fissilis (cedro),
Cassia leptophylla (falso barbatimao),
Schinus molle (aroeira salsa),
Citharexylum myrianthum (pau viola),
Ceiba speciosa (paineira rosa),
Handroanthus sp. (ipe cascudo),
Albizia sp. (angico pururuca),
Licania tomentosa (oiti),
Pterocarpus violaceus (aldrago).

Great work team SINAL, we’re looking forward to planting more with you! And I’ll share more about SINAL’s upcoming events in a future post, but wanted to share this fresh news with iGiveTrees supporters right away!

Initiative 4 per 1000 Declaration of Intention

Rainforest ECO Enterprises and the iGive Trees project and are both honored to be among the signatory organizations of this Declaration of Support for the Initiative 4 per 1000: Soils for Food Security and Climate. We look forward to meeting with the other global citizen initiative representatives in Marrakesh at COP22 this November.

The Initiative has set itself the goal of helping address the following three issues:

  • Improvement of food security by enhancing soil fertility and combating land degradation.
  • Adaptation of agriculture to climate disruption.
  • Mitigation of climate change.

We were included thanks to recognition by the French Ministry of Ecology  for our citizen initiative projects in Brazil.


As an artist, I was inspired to translate the Declaration of Intention into the font TREE created by Katie Holton, in symbolic commitment. What you see planted on the right is a transcription of the words you see on the written on the left.

May these words take root and grow.


2017 UPDATE: To see photos of the actual banner and its international signers at COP22, visit my blog post on Medium.

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