Togo: the forest gardeners

According to Togolese folklore, “The tree heals, the tree feeds, the tree regenerates and the tree welcomes the spirit of the deceased.” At first glance, visitors may think that, over time, harmony has been forged between the people of this small West African country and its environment. The Plateaux region offers the image of an idyllic tropical forest, with waterfalls nestled amidst lush vegetation. And yet… Deforestation devastates 15,000 hectares each year, while the use of fertilisers promising to optimise yields has degraded agricultural soils. Photojournalist Axelle de Russé, who is renowned for her work on major societal issues, visited the Kpalimé region to capture the daily life of a farming community that refuses to watch its land perish, choosing instead to plant fertiliser trees that fix nitrogen in the soil. This programme, initiated by the NGO APAF (Association pour la promotion des arbres fertilitaires, de l’agroforesterie et la foresterie) and backed by the Yves Rocher Foundation, aims to plant 1.7 million trees by 2020 and already supports 25,000 producers across the country. De Russés images focus on these new converts to agroforestry in Africa, who are the unsuspecting pioneers of an entire continent’s rebirth
Axelle de Russé - Togo les jardiniers de la  forêt

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