Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Dr. Anne Hallum, founder and director of our planting partner AIR was named one of CNN’s 2011 Heroes!

We are very happy (and proud!) to update you that Dr. Ann Hallum, the founder and director of the Alliance for International Reforestation (AIR), our planting partner, has been named one of CNN’s 2011 Heroes!

Dr. Hallum was named as a CNN hero due to her efforts, with AIR, the organization she established almost 20 years ago with the goal of assisting local communities in Central America to conserve their environment through reforestation, sustainable farming, and education. AIR, which is working mainly in Guatemala has done since then a tremendous work, focusing on planting trees as one of the the most effective ways to achieve its goals.

We congratulate Dr. Hallum on this wonderful achievement. Eco-Libris is proud to have AIR as one of its planting partners and support its important work in Guatemala. Since 2007 we planted more than 60,000 trees with AIR and we hope to continue and plant many more in our quest to balance out as many books as possible by planting trees. These trees have a tremendous value, both environmental and social, and only lately we could learn on their importance,
preventing mudslide tragedies caused by tropical storm Agatha.

Hallum explains in the article on CNN's website how it all started:

The effort, nearly 20 years strong, was one Hallum said she never really planned. A political science professor at Stetson University in DeLand, Florida, Hallum traveled to the rural town of Nueva Concepcion, Guatemala, in 1991 as an adviser for a university field trip. It was her first trip outside the United States, and despite not being able to speak Spanish, she was moved by a blatant poverty that "broke her heart" and birthed a "new purpose."

"I went into the villages where lots of the trees were cut down, and I held some of the children," said Hallum, 57. "They were listless and couldn't hold themselves up. Their eyes were dull, and it became pretty clear that they were malnourished."

The farms she visited were not sustainable, she said, because the soil was eroded and lacked nutrients. Hallum, a self-proclaimed nature lover, was not formally trained in agriculture, but she knew some basic facts about trees and food products that could be cheaply grown. With the help of a former student, she researched rural resources and learned that many local Guatemalan tree varieties could be strategically replanted to provide fruit, fertilizer, coffee, food and medicinal herbs where resources were failing or nonexistent.

"When we started, it was all about fighting poverty," Hallum said. "We wanted to help families farm better and feed their children better. But we started to notice that in the areas where (pine) trees were planted, the mudslides were no longer occurring. So that brought a new focus for us. Food, shade, fertilizer and mudslide protection -- the trees can do it all."

Nearly 373 square kilometers of trees are destroyed each year in Guatemala, according to the University of Santa Barbara's Department of Geography. Through her group's efforts, Hallum is inspiring villagers to stop chopping and, instead, use trees to safeguard their lives and crops against mudslides. So far AIR has helped 110 rural villages plant more than 3.8 million trees throughout Guatemala.

Check out the Alliance for International Reforestation website at www.air-guatemala.org.
More information on our work with AIR can be found on the annual assessments which are available on our planting partners page.

More articles on AIR:

There’s no such as “normal” weather in Guatemala…but trees can help!

Trees planted by our planting partner AIR in Guatemala help to mitigate some damages of Hurricane Agatha

Updates and pictures from AIR's tree planting operations in Guatemala

A great article about our planting partner AIR, or: How to plant the seeds of sustainable future

Our plating partner AIR won U.N. grant for service in Guatemala


Raz @ Eco-Libris

Eco-Libris: Working to green the book industry!

* All photos are courtesy of AIR. You can see more photos from AIR on our planting gallery.