Omaha zoo 3 millionth tree

A group of volunteers and Madagascar Biodiversity Partnership employees take part in reforestation efforts in Madagascar. 

The Henry Doorly Zoo & Aquarium has planted its 3 millionth tree in Madagascar.

The trees were planted with the goal of providing a habitat for lemurs, the most threatened group of primates in the world.

Edward E. Louis Jr., director of conservation genetics at the Omaha zoo and founder of the Madagascar Biodiversity Partnership, began the reforestation project in 2012 with support from the Arbor Day Foundation.

The primary reforestation program is in Kianjavato, a small community in southeastern Madagascar. Forest fragments surrounding Kianjavato are home to nine lemur species, including the critically endangered black-and-white lemur.

A variety of native trees were planted for the lemur habitats, and timber and fruiting trees were planted to provide resources for surrounding communities.

Locals voluntarily participate in weekly planting events organized by partnership employees. The partnership also supports more than 150 full-time Malagasy employees as field assistants, project supervisors, office employees, horticulturists and supporting field personnel.

“From the project’s beginning, we have directly worked with the Madagascar community to provide them with the tools and opportunities they need to better their livelihoods, without it affecting their environment,” Louis said in press release. “Restoring this relationship — between the people and nature — builds a sustainable community.”

About 17,000 trees are planted every week.