Local Christmas trees that keep on giving

This Christmas, Dulwich Christmas Forest aims to grow its 200,000th tree in the Sahel region of Africa with TREE AID.

Imagine your food, medicine, cosmetics, shelter and energy all came from one place. No, not the supermarket. A forest.


In Mali, West Africa, many villagers rely on forests for their survival. They eat fruits, nuts and leaves and create natural medicines from the bark and roots of trees. Even life-threatening illnesses like malaria can be treated with simple tree based medicines. Villagers build their houses with timber from the forest. They turn nuts and seeds into soap or to make oil for cooking, and all food is cooked on a wood fire. Some people’s only income comes from selling tree products like shea butter, dried mango or cashew nuts at their local market. In these communities, trees mean life.

Over the years, more and more forest has been cleared in Mali. Poverty plays a major role in this deforestation. With few employment opportunities, many poor people are forced to take firewood from the forest to sell to make enough money to buy the bare essentials. This leads to fewer trees, and worsens the cycle of poverty and deforestation. But this trend can be reversed.

Local people need to be engaged in – and ultimately take ownership of, the management of their forests if they’re to reverse this problem. By showing villagers how they can set up businesses selling tree products, they become invested in protecting their trees. The more that people see living trees as a source of income, the more trees they will plant.

pastedgraphic_1TREE AID has been working in the drylands of Africa for almost 30 years, helping communities to plant trees and manage their forests sustainably. Korotimi Coulibaly is just one of the women TREE AID is helping. She decided to get involved in the project because she had seen many trees disappear from the forest since she was a child and she is concerned for the future.

Korotimi is growing native and threatened tree species, such as African mahogany and baobab to restore the forest, apple-ring acacia trees to plant in her fields to improve the soil, and fruit trees like mango near her home for her family to eat. It’s been hard work, but Korotimi said to TREE AID staff that she now knows that these trees can help her, and she is determined to regrow the forest to build a better future for her children.

The Christmas Forest has been supporting TREE AID for over ten years. For every Christmas tree they sell, they donate to TREE AID so that villagers like Korotimi can grow another in Mali. Together, they have already grown 176,839 trees.

The Christmas Forest will open in Dulwich from November 23rd right up until Christmas Eve, 8am-10pm; with friendly local staff to help you during your visit.  Delivery and free parking available.


Located opposite the Harvester at Streatham and Marlborough Cricket Club, Jct of Dulwich Common and Lordship Lane, SE21 7EX – Store easily accessible from Camberwell, Herne Hill, Forest Hill, Peckham, Norwood and Brockwell Park.

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