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Photo blog: Bringing forests back to life

World Vision
5 June 2014 by Suzy Sainovski
Photo blog: Bringing forests back to life

World Vision’s Natural Resources Adviser, Tony Rinaudo, is the pioneer of a reforestation technique called Farmer Managed Natural Regeneration, or FMNR. Tony has committed his life to restoring degraded lands and bringing hope to poor communities. World Vision photographer Suzy Sainovski travelled with Tony, World Vision CEO Tim Costello and a group of World Vision supporters to Ethiopia to see FMNR training in action. Here’s Suzy’s account of this ground-breaking work.

It was inspiring learning more about Tony’s work in Farmer Managed Natural Regeneration in Ethiopia. Believe it or not, the little bush in the photo above is actually a tree with an established root system. Simple FMNR techniques, like pruning, can help resuscitate trees like this one. It’s much more efficient than planting new trees, as the root system is already established. Tony refers to it as an ‘underground forest’ – the land looks barren but the roots are established. Effectively, they are sleeping trees that are waiting to be pruned so they can wake up and spring back to life!


The great thing about FMNR is that it’s really simple and inexpensive to do. You can see the simple knife being used to prune this bush. It was great to watch Tony teaching community members about the method. World Vision supporter Amanda Jane (pictured right) is so passionate about FMNR and it was wonderful to see how engaged she was during the FMNR workshop as well.



Around 100 people participated in the two-day FMNR workshop in the north of Ethiopia. One of the facilitators, Abohawi, was one of the most enthusiastic people I’ve ever encountered – he’s so excited about FMNR.


Major Donors & FMNR

More trees can mean a reduction in air temperature – brilliant! While I was in this part of Ethiopia, I heard a farmer say that he’d noticed it was cooler since the number of trees had increased, which made it easier to be outside and farm the land.



Ethiopia is a pretty dry country so it was wonderful to see the healthy crops growing in this area.



This is a very small bush with a deep and established root system, an underground forest, and the right type of pruning will give it the kiss of life.



A small bush will grow to about the height of the tree pictured on the left in a couple of years – amazing!

I learnt that there are so many benefits of FMNR. When there are more trees, there is less soil erosion and improved soil fertility. Fertile soil means it’s easier to grow food crops. Increased production of crops means more food for hungry bellies. FMNR can also have a positive impact on incomes. One of the ways families are increasing their incomes is through the production of honey. The more trees there are, the more honey that can be produced and sold. I tried some Ethiopian honey – it tastes great! It really is quite extraordinary how such a simple, cost effective technique can have so many benefits.

Read more about Tony’s reforestation work on the FMNR Hub, or see the latest story of success in Ethiopia. 

Suzy Sainovski Suzy Sainovski

Suzy Sainovski is World Vision’s Syria Crisis Response Communications Director.


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