There was an article at NYTimes.com yesterday about trees in Niger.
It reported that farmers started noticing scarcity of trees about 20
years ago and started leaving saplings alone in their fields instead
of uprooting them. They started "owning" the trees on their
properties, protecting them, planting around them, etc. One of them
is a nitrogen fixer that obligingly drops its leaves in the rainy
season so it doesn't compete for water or light with crops!
(The "government" had been claiming the trees as "government
property" so no one had felt responsible for them. They were "in the
way" so farmers would pull them out.) Now the government has changed
policy and allowed the trees to be husbanded by the farmers, who can
get far more benefit over time by selling fruits, seeds, coppicing,
etc. than by cutting it down. Previous tree planting programs by the
government had been expensive failures.
Now satellite photos show extensive regreening of large areas of
Niger. "Experts" are "surprised."
It was very heartening to read this, I wanted to pass it on.
I am reading Christopher Alexander's works now, the 4 volume series
about the Nature of Order. He describes in great detail the way "The
Wholeness" continually changes beautifully through "structure
preserving changes" in Nature. Incredible insights and illustrations
from arts and sciences. The Niger example was a good example of
this, where all they had to do was stop pulling out trees, stop
getting in the way of the activity of Wholeness.