A Hollywood star has lent her voice to a powerful new documentary by a west Dorset-based charity.

The film, from documentary maker Tim Tyson Short, is narrated by Kate Winslet and contains a blueprint for mitigating climate change and alleviating hunger and poverty in Africa.

#TreesAreThe Key is a 40-minute documentary made in conjunction with The Word Forest Organisation, a Lyme-based charity which plants trees, builds classrooms and facilitates education in rural Kenya. It also shines a spotlight on the women’s empowerment group, Mothers of the Forest.

Tim is a renowned filmmaker who has made films for broadcasters and developmental organisations worldwide over the past three decades. Back in February 2019, he accompanied a small team of Word Forest volunteers to Boré, Coast Province, Kenya. His remit was to tell the story of why we need to plant more trees in the tropics and why we need to support the people who are taking care of the forests.

“If we don’t address both of these urgent requirements, we’ll find ourselves at existential o’clock”, said Word Forest chief executive, Tracey West.

Tim captured stories from the tree planters of Boré, including charting the success of the 40 Mothers of the Forest, with group facilitator, Eva Jefa. “I hope by sharing our model for positive change through environmental education, we’ll be able to encourage others to adopt it too,'' says, Eva.

Simon West, chairman of trustees, adds: “Understanding sustainability via permaculture, for example, allows the community to better resist climate chaos. We’re trying to fill the gaps left by governments and undo the damage done by big corporations.”

Over the past two years, the Mothers have addressed social isolation and depression amongst the women in their community by building a framework of sisterly support and resilience. Eva said: “Women do the majority of the tree planting here. We come together to share knowledge on the best ways to take care of the forest; the planet benefits and we benefit too. We were shown how to make washable sanitary pads, this has really helped us, especially the young girls who often stay at home when they get a period. Now, they can continue to study at school.”

The documentary also captured the Mother’s first literacy and numeracy lessons. Many of the women were denied the chance to go to school and thought the opportunity to learn had passed them by. Their new found skills include transacting money, enabling them to take excess commodities from the forest, to market, alleviating poverty and hunger.

#TreesAreTheKey will premiere at the Marine Theatre on Wednesday, October 2, and will go on general release soon after. To view the trailer and for more information, visit wordforest.org.