Forest stream deep green Tasmania  DSEWPaC-attributionThe Cauto River, Cuba’s longest, was ravaged by a five-year drought, and its forests were destroyed for firewood. River banks crumbled, damaging the river’s fragile ecology. Five million trees later, the Cauto’s forests are coming back to life and local livelihoods are on the upswing, thanks to a community-oriented reforestation project supported by United Nations Development Program.

As a community effort to alleviate poverty while saving the environment, it is being showcased at the Johannesburg Earth Summit as a finalist for the Equator Prize. The project divided the river banks into plots of 16 to 34 acres and provided funds to build modern cottages on the land. Families moved in, planted trees, and set up vegetable gardens and orchards. They sell the produce on the open market, enhancing incomes, particularly for women.

For more global good news, learn about the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), helping people in 166 countries to build a better life by utilizing local solutions to development challenges. The Equator Initiative aims to reduce poverty in equatorial regions through strengthening innovative community projects that conserve the region’s biodiversity. The Equator Prize honors ingenious local projects like the Cauto Reforestation project that are using environmental resources in a sustainable way to improve livelihoods.

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