Benin's sacred forests, protected out of respect for traditional religious beliefs, are maintained by local communities throughout the country. But many of these areas are now degraded due to overexploitation for the forest products that they provide, the expansion of agriculture, and urbanization.

Rwanda is among the fastest growing countries in sub-Saharan Africa. Even with this breakneck pace of economic expansion, over 70% of the population makes a living from subsistence agriculture and natural resources like forests and rivers.  

With 85% of Ethiopia’s growing population engaged in traditional agriculture, the level of deforestation for the expansion of cropland, firewood or charcoal is growing, causing extensive soil erosion. As a result, soil fertility has declined to such an extent that local people now struggle to grow crops and raise livestock.  

For decades, vast areas of forests in Ethiopia have been cleared as agriculture expands. This has led to droughts, the loss of unique species and declining soil fertility.

At the same time, Ethiopia’s population has doubled in the past 30 years. This brings big challenges, such as the increasing demand for housing, employment, and food. But trees can offer a solution to these challenges.

In the green hills of Rwanda, coffee farmers are working hard to restore their land while increasing their crop yields. To help them, One Tree Planted partnered with Kula, a nonprofit dedicated to eradicating poverty by empowering women entrepreneurs. 

Tanzania is one of the poorest countries in the world, with a per capita income of $280 USD and about half of the population living below the poverty line. The land in Mpwapwa, in the country’s Dodoma region, was once a forested sanctuary for wildlife and people. But in the past 50 years, unsustainable farming practices and the increasing demand for charcoal for cooking have degraded most of the region’s forests. The result is severe erosion, depleted water basins, and dry rivers.

Nearly all – 96 percent – of Malawi’s rapidly growing population depends on wood or charcoal for cooking. Meanwhile, land is continuously being cleared to grow crops, since nearly 80 percent of Malawians rely on agriculture for their livelihoods.

Between 1990 and 2010, Kenya’s forest cover decreased from 12 percent to only 6 percent. The country has now committed to bring it back to 10 percent by 2030. In Kenya’s Arid and Semi-Arid Lands (ASALs), deforestation is largely driven by increasing local demand for wood for construction and cooking, overgrazing, and grass fires. Deforestation and land degradation are especially serious in areas where droughts, exacerbated by climate change, are threatening already limited water supplies.

The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) is known for its dense tropical forests, which represent 47 percent of Africa's total, as well as its diversity of plants and animals. However, a growing population -- and its dependence on farming and livestock -- are putting pressure on the country’s natural ecosystems. South Kivu province, where 80% of the people live in poverty, has one of the highest population densities in DRC. 

The farms, pasture, and rangelands of the Central African Republic (CAR) are full of potential for local people. The country also hosts a diversity of forested land, ranging from dense, humid forests in the South to savannah in the North, which provides timber, firewood, and non-timber forest products (NTFPs).