Environmental Quality Protection, Beautification

Earth Sangha Inc

Fairfax, VA

Mission

The Earth Sangha was founded in 1997 to undertake practical environmental action as an expression of the Buddhist perspective on life. (Sangha is a Buddhist term for congregation or community.)

We operate a volunteer-based restoration program for the greater Washington, DC region - stabilizing streams, restoring native forests and meadows. Our DC area restoration work attracts over 600 volunteers every year and has reached nearly 50 sites, mostly on public lands in northern Virginia. We believe practical action and long-term engagement are the best methods to produce healthier restored environments.

In the Dominican Republic, along the border with Haiti, we operate an agroforestry program designed to improve the income of the region's impoverished farmers, and fight deforestation. Our goal is to create a system in which tropical small-holder farming is more compatible with native forest.

Ruling Year

1998

President

Mr. Chris Bright

Executive Director

Mrs. Lisa Bright

Main Address

10123 Commonwealth Blvd

Fairfax, VA 22032 USA

Keywords

forest restoration, stream restoration, meadow restoration, agroforestry

EIN

54-1868546

 Number

4274382545

Cause Area (NTEE Code)

Forest Conservation (C36)

Water Resource, Wetlands Conservation and Management (C32)

Rural (S32)

IRS Filing Requirement

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Programs + Results

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Our programs

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

DC Area Ecological Restoration

Tree Bank/Hispaniola

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Charting Impact

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SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

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Our mission is ecological restoration and native flora preservation, in the Washington, DC region and the Dominican Republic-Haiti border region, as a form of socially engaged Buddhism. Our aim is to restore the native plant communities that are essential to the greater ecological health of these two regions by working with the major landholders. In the DC area this means working with land management agencies and in the Dominican Republic it means working with smallholder farmers.

For our DC area work our objectives for the 3 to 5 years are to: 1) expand and upgrade facilities at our Wild Plant Nursery. 2) To expand plant propagation efforts in cooperation with the National Park Service and Fairfax County Park Authority. 3) And to collect relevant GPS data for all our species in propagation. This data is essential in guiding our seed collection and ecological monitoring efforts.

The main objectives for our work for the next 3 to 5 years in the Dominican Republic (also known as the Tree Bank Hispaniola) are to increase the number of acres in conservation and restoration and further our ability to act as a conservation resource. We will achieve these by 1) expanding our Tree Bank Community Nursery to increase our propagation capacity (all the trees grown are available to member farmers for free). 2) To start supplying other regional organizations with trees for their own restoration efforts. 3) And to improve our data collection methods.

Across all our programs, our goal is to act as a conservation resource and to further ecological restoration through our own work and by supporting the work of our partners. To best realize this goal, we approach the problems of environmental degradation from many angles: by directly restoring damaged areas, propagating restoration-quality native plant species to drive restoration throughout the region, educating people of all ages about natural resources and how to protect them, and addressing agricultural practices and poverty that drive deforestation in the rural Dominican Republic.

In the Washington, DC area we operate a volunteer based restoration program that works to stabilize streams, remove invasive alien plants, and restore forests, meadows, and wetlands. Annually, our DC area restoration work attracts over 600 volunteers. The heart of the program is our Wild Plant Nursery, the region’s most comprehensive source of native plants propagated from wild seed. Such “local ecotype” stock is generally regarded as a prerequisite for careful restoration. Our nursery provides restoration quality stock to our own restoration efforts and to those of land management agencies, conservation nonprofits, local schools, and businesses. As the Wild Plant Nursery grows, we become better equipped to support more restoration and conservation efforts, in addition to our own volunteer-based work. For these reasons, this program acts as a “force multiplier” for restoration and conservation efforts in the DC region. As we are able to propagate more plants, monitor more sites, and collect more seed, we are able to help more jurisdictions, agencies, and nonprofits make their environmental efforts more effective.

Our Dominican Republic project, also known as the Tree Bank Hispaniola, works with smallholder farmers to promote sustainable agriculture and alleviate poverty as a means of forest conservation and restoration. To achieve its goals, the Tree Bank offers the following services to its member farms: credit for forest easements, free trees for restoration and orchard development, premium shade-coffee purchasing, and a small soil improvement program. By fighting poverty and supporting sustainable agriculture, we are creating new infrastructure that protects forest instead of exploiting it.

Founded in 1997, the Earth Sangha has over 15 years of experience in conservation, and restoration and over a decade of experience in propagating flora native to the Washington, DC area. Our Wild Plant Nursery is the gold standard for local-ecotype native plant propagation in the DC area. We have positioned ourselves to act as a conservation resource for land management agencies, businesses, schools, and other nonprofits. By supplying other organization’s conservation efforts with either our expertise and local ecotype native plants we are multiplying our ability to conserve and restore land in the DC area. By engaging the local community in our conservation efforts we have built a large network of volunteers. Annually we work with over 600 volunteers through invasive removals, native species plantings, seed cleanings, and at our Wild Plant Nursery. Our main partner is the Fairfax County Park Authority, but we have long term contracts with the Bureau of Land Management and the Fish and Wildlife Service. We have occasional partnerships with other jurisdictions and conservation groups, including Arlington County, the City of Alexandria, Lands and Waters, the Potomac Conservancy, the Anacostia Watershed Society, and the National Park Service.

The Earth Sangha has over 8 years of experience working with smallholder farmers to conserve and restore threatened tropical forest. The Tree Bank Hispaniola is a partnership between the Earth Sangha and the Asociación de Productores de Bosque Los Cerezos, a farmers’ co-op in the mountains of the Dajabon province in the Dominican Republic, not far from the Haitian border. Our Dominican staff is comprised of a team of local farmers who are also active members of the Asociación de Productores de Bosque Los Cerezos. We develop all our Tree Bank programs in close collaboration with our partner organization to ensure that the needs of the farmers are met and the forest is restored correctly.

Because environmental restoration is a multi-year process, it can be difficult to quantify progress made over the short term. The process of removing invasive alien species takes many years as the seeds can remain viable in the soil for up to 7 years. During the removal process we are also planting in native plants (grown at our Wild Plant Nursery). A site still needs to be monitored and maintained once the invasive species have been removed and native species planted in.

To track progress we monitor invasives infestations on our restoration sites, what native species are popping up, and the condition of native species planted in. We can easily track to number of restoration quality native plants distributed in our project areas and volunteer hours. We also monitor how many native plants we supply to the restoration efforts of our partner organizations.

Since the Wild Plant Nursery’s inception in 2001 (we started distributing plants in 2003 -- most plants must be grown out before they are saleable, hence the 2 year delay), we have distributed roughly 75,000 plants across the DC region (This number is current up to the end of 2014). Production and distribution have grown tremendously in recent years; more than half of our total plant distribution has taken place in the last 3 years. We have worked on about 30 stream buffer plantings over the years, nearly all of them on public lands in Northern Virginia. These plantings cover more than 18 acres, along more than 2 miles of stream bank. Since 2004, we have been working in several forested parks to remove invasive alien plants and restore native flora. Our most important non-buffer forest site is the 20-acre Marie Butler Leven Preserve (MBLP), in the McLean section of Fairfax County, where we have restored about 8 acres of forest understory. In 2010, we began working on meadow projects in three Fairfax County parks and at the BLM’s Meadowood Recreation Area, on the Mason Neck Peninsula. As of 2014, our meadow program includes 13 meadow sites – amounting to about 50.5 acres. Since 2005, we have been supplying native local-ecotype stock to elementary and secondary schools for the creation of educational native plant displays; our plants have reached about 45 such schools. Through our Tree Bank program we have over 220 acres of threatened tropical forest in conservation.

External Reviews

Financials

Earth Sangha Inc

Fiscal year: Jan 01 - Dec 31

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Operations

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Board Leadership Practices

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SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

BOARD ORIENTATION & EDUCATION

Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations?

Not Applicable

CEO OVERSIGHT

Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year?

Not Applicable

ETHICS & TRANSPARENCY

Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year?

Not Applicable

BOARD COMPOSITION

Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership?

Not Applicable

BOARD PERFORMANCE

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Not Applicable