TROPICAL RESEARCH ECOLOGICAL EXCHANGE INSTITUTE
Natural and Cultural Heritage Interpretation and Education
Natural Medicine Research and Development
PROGRAM OBJECTIVES: ECOLOGICAL CONSERVATION
Conservation, preservation and enhancement of critical habitat for endangered species in the Caribbean rim are a very high priority for the TREE Institute. The protection of biodiversity in our rich Caribbean ecological setting is a key piece of the TREE Institute’s Mission. Funding the fight to stem the continued loss of many of our important plants and animals in the region has become a high priority objective for us every year. Biodiversity is the foundation of life on Earth. It’s crucial to the proper functioning of ecosystems that provide us with life-sustaining products and services. Oxygen, food, fresh water, fertile soil, medicines, shelter, protection from storms and floods, stable climate, and recreation - all have their source in nature and healthy ecosystems. But, biodiversity gives us much more than this. We depend on it for our security and health; it strongly affects our social relations and gives us freedom and choice. The goal to protect, restore and preserve important habitat around the world is a daunting task. However, we must address this critical issue one habitat at a time. We have chosen to begin this important work in one of the most important biodiversity hot-spots in the world…the Caribbean rim.
PROGRAM OBJECTIVES: NATURAL MEDICINE RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT
A major objective of the TREE Institute is to encourage, promote and orchestrate the research necessary to further the discovery and development of beneficial medicinal compounds derived from naturally occurring plant material. Only 5% of all the plants on Earth have been researched for their potential uses to better mankind. Extensive research will be necessary to accomplish our goal of utilizing plants and trees to solve today’s critical issues associated with health care, conservation and clean air. The majority of today’s modern miracle drugs came from plant derivatives and folklore that narrowed the search. Most of these discoveries, however, involved the harvesting of the important DNA material from the flora of third world countries. Developers reaped huge financial benefits by bringing these discoveries to market elsewhere and providing no economic benefit to the people of the countries of origin.
The TREE Institute is promoting plant research and analysis in the Caribbean rim countries with the expressed goal of providing economic benefit and quality of life gains for the local residents. TREE has partnered with Dr. Illya Raskin of Rutgers University to explore the potential for finding plant materials with medicinal and health care properties. Dr. Raskin has developed the technology for systematically analyzing plant material molecular structure for the purpose of identifying promising constructs for further research and development. The best way to begin such an exploration is to find existing community cultural centers of folklore that have retained and preserved descriptions of botanical ingredients that have been effective cures and life enhancers over the centuries. Currently, the TREE Institute is finding such locations and enlisting the aid of Dr. Raskin’s team to comb through the data and proceed to analyze the information of promising plant chemistry.
PROGRAM OBJECTIVES: NATURAL AND CULTURAL HERITAGE INTERPRETATION AND EDUCATION
As modernization and suburbanization rapidly consume our landscape and indigenous cultures, it is extremely important to save the last vestiges of cultural traditions around the globe. TREE supports programs that can preserve and interpret important natural and cultural resources of the Caribbean rim that relate to its mission and objectives. By understanding the historical and cultural uses, this information can hold the key to more advanced uses for today. This aligns with the TREE objective to promote the IMPLEMENTATION of key scientific discoveries and technologies that can improve the quality of human life and minimize the negative impact of humanity on the Earth's ecosystems.
Another major objective of the TREE Institute is to promote the EDUCATION of all people about the complex world of plants and their importance to the Earth’s ecosystems. By implementing programs that are involved in preserving and interpreting the rich natural and cultural history of the Caribbean rim, the Institute is able to not only preserve such history for research, but promote EDUCATION, working at key strategic sites that can attract many visitors.
A major unexpected outcome of TREE’s efforts in this area has been the empowerment of local people in social change. Their knowledge and pride may have been suppressed due to economical and social issues. Through TREE’s programs, however, local people take ownership of projects and become empowered. In several cases, as the projects evolved, local officials are now acting as catalysts for change in how they operate such institutions, as well as the leverage they give the local people to run them.
PROGRAM OBJECTIVES: SUSTAINABLE COMMUNITIES
A major objective of the TREE Institute is to encourage, promote and orchestrate sustainable community development in the Caribbean rim area. As our scarce natural resources are consumed around the globe, the cost of powering and integrating our human settlements into our local ecological setting becomes more and more prohibitive. This phenomenon is occurring on all levels of human development: regional, community, and each and every home. On the regional level, we are consuming fossil fuels, exporting jobs and importing foods, building supplies and household goods. On the community level, we are extracting water, polluting our surface and ground water, encouraging excessive transportation costs, piling up and burying trash, promoting land consumptive settlement patterns, and denuding our forests. At home, we mine, consume and waste water, consume large quantities of fossil fuel energy, import food, generate and export waste, and drive to every destination.
The TREE Institute is partnering with public and private entities to promote more sustainable communities throughout the Caribbean area. Our goal is to plan/design/build model sustainable communities that can act as prototypes for community and town planning within the nations of the Caribbean rim.
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