Deforestation is an acute threat to Madagascar's environment and the livelihood of its population. In the Lac Alaotra region, it has been identified as a major concern for locals in communities across the plateau. The Tree Planting Bike Ride is a project focused on educating communities on the motivations and skills of tree growing, culminating in a region-wide tree planting tour in the Alaotra region of Madagascar. This is the second year of the project's implementation. Peace Corps Volunteers work with a local school or organization in each community to build tree nurseries and perform environmental education presentations. In each community, a counterpart is identified and trained to insure sustainability and to act as a bridge to the community. They, as well as PCV’s, will be actively involved in the goals to: (1) Educate students and community members about the importance of protecting the environment (2) Educate communities on the benefits of planting trees for both livelihood improvement and environmental sustainability. (3) Educate communities on how to grow trees from seed. (4) Plant at least 200 trees in each community. Before the tree planting, seeds will be given to the schools to enable future community-led plantings. They will also be encouraged to work with PCV counterparts, their community, and other leaders outside of the community.
Communities across the Alaotra region have identified deforestation as a leading issue, but action is rarely taken due to lack of knowledge, skills, or resources. Through this project, community members will be encouraged to become leaders in addressing these road blocks. Counterparts will be trained specifically alongside each PCV on nursery set up, basic environmental education, and tree care. Schools and community-based organizations will be involved directly in each step of the the project. The location of the nurseries, their upkeep, and the location of the tree planting are all community-determined. Counterparts, student leaders, and head community members are encouraged to volunteer to educate other community members at each event. This practice of leadership skills, specifically in environmental and reforestation work, is a key to ensuring the effectiveness of the project within the community..
The schools, organizations, and communities will be able to sustain yearly tree plantings through the provision of materials, learned skills, and developed community leadership. The driving forces behind this sustainability will be the support provided through PCV counterparts and local leaders. Having received environmental education provided during the tree planting bike ride event, classes of students or organization members will have a basis of understanding the motivating factors of tree planting. It should be noted that seeds will be provided to school/organization. PCV’s will encourage all parties in each community to do future tree plantings, and once the trees reach maturity, education can be done around seed harvesting.