We plant trees to restore ecosystems and livelihoods whilst increasing protection against the extremes of climate change in multiple regions of the tropical forest belt. We do this in ways that recreate and restore natural forest ecosystems using indigenous species, fostering local knowledge and skills, and promoting women's participation. We strive to do it intelligently, appropriately, respectfully and successfully.
Forests play a vital role in the hydrological cycles of our world, sequester the atmospheric carbon dioxide that is driving climate change and provide the most biodiverse regions on earth. When trees are removed, vibrant ecosystems are often overfarmed, eroded and rendered infertile in a cascade effect that is mirrored with social decline, grinding poverty and climate extremes.
Reforestation can rapidly reverse these trends, stabilizing and nourishing the soils, restoring watersheds, revitalizing dry springs and providing good quality water to large populations living downstream.
We are focusing on four primary environmental goals:
Protection and expansion of Intact Forest Landscapes
Restoration and protection of watersheds
Controlling soil erosion (as extreme weather and deforestation cause run off)
Restoring topsoil and land fertility
And two primary socio-economic goals:
Improving community livelihoods and forest interdependence
Fostering women's participation, empowerment and incomes
(Note - the term 'reforestation strategy' includes (from a technical perspective the broader activities of forest restoration, afforestation and re-greening of drylands)
Our core focus is the tropical forest belt, located largely between the tropics of Cancer and Capricorn.
We focus primarily on regions where urgent forest restoration or conservation can reduce or help prevent further damage to the last frontiers of our remaining Intact Forests Landscapes. These remaining ancient forests are invaluable sanctuaries, with an amazing complexity of Life (biodiversity and ecological processes)
We work to restore degraded forests with a broader goal in mind, such as creating corridors connecting protected areas and/or intact forests landscapes.
We consider afforestation (tree planting in areas that have never been forested) where serious soil and land degradation compounded by water scarcity severely impact life and threaten nearby ecosystems. Planting where survival rates are high, where it increases resilience to climate change and brings significant ecological and social benefit (without negative impacts) can be both possible and desirable.
We look for countries that are the lowest performers on IUCN's gender and environment index (meaning the worst treatment of women)
Intact Forest Landscapes cover less than 10% of the Earth's total land area and consist of humid tropical forests, and boreal forests in the Northern and Southern latitudes. They exist in 66 countries, with two-thirds of these forests concentrated in just 3 countries: Brazil, Russia and Canada.
Using a variety of data sources, we narrowed down the forest regions suffering from the highest rates of deforestation, and which presented the highest potential for landscape restoration in their immediate vicinity. These are the countries, highlighted in dark and light green on the map.
(See bottom of the page for data sources)
There are innovative and creative reforestation projects out there, that are looking to support multiple levels of both human and ecological healing simultaneously. We seek to partner with exemplary initiatives that fit our reforestation strategy.
To achieve the environmental goals set in our reforestation strategy, we pay a particular attention to the following projects:
Forest restoration in the vicinity of Intact Forest Landscapes or protected areas (green belt, buffer zones, forest corridors within fragmented forest ecosystems), in Tropical and subtropical moist broadleaf forests, Tropical and subtropical dry broadleaf forests, Tropical and subtropical coniferous forests, as well as Mangroves.
Conservation of Intact Forest Landscapes (types as above)
Emergency tree planting (when appropriate) and/or re-greening with assisted natural regeneration, restoring productivity by adding trees (agro-forestry, tree planting on farms, framework planting), in Tropical and subtropical dry broadleaf forests, Tropical and subtropical grasslands, savannas and shrublands and deserts and xeric shrublands ecoregions, that are at risks of deforestation, land degradation and desertification.
To achieve the socio-economic goals set in our strategy, we are particularly interested in projects that...
For instance, the projects that utilize agro-forestry to bring intercropping and tree husbandry into agriculture (oil, nuts, pepper etc)
Lower vulnerability to climate variability (floods, storm surge, landslide exposure)
Improve surrounding activities or small-scale forest use. For instance, fishing, gathering (honey, medicinal plants), hunting, agricultural production, water quality, customary activities)
Grow community forests that focus community responsibility, ownership and pride
Engage multiple sectors of society
Focus on empowering women and redressing gender equality
When it comes to looking at an individual project and deciding whether to take them on as one of our beneficiaries, we follow a thorough three-step due diligence process.
We start by asking whether the project is in line with our overall strategy: Is it a reforestation or forest conservation project with particular emphasis on restoring degraded soil and maintaining watersheds? Does it involve the local community and empower women? Does it lie within the countries we have identified as priority?
What type of trees are they planting and why (are they native species)? How do they take care of them until maturity? What are the survival rates of these trees? Whose land are they planted upon?
Here we want to ensure that the organization is sustainable, well-managed and has an absolutely clean track record. We look at their finances, budget, and audited accounts. We ask questions about staffing, monitoring and evaluation. We also look at the "price per tree" to understand what is included in it.
When the organization has matched our requirements, we sign a memorandum of understanding and start sending them TreeSisters contributions on a quarterly basis.
The cost per tree varies widely between different reforestation projects. For instance with our current projects a single tree costs £1 in India, £0.2 in Kenya, $0.1 in Madagascar and £0.77 in Brazil - due to many different factors such as:
The species being planted and levels of care needed to germinate and grow it.
Whether volunteers or paid employees are growing, planting and protecting the trees
Country cost of living and therefore costs of all planting materials and wages
Whether the land to be planted needs significant preparation
Survival of the saplings if threatened by flood, drought, disease and replanting costs
Additional installations like drip irrigation infrastructure to ensure survival
Protection, monitoring and evaluation costs and complexity
Health and education programs that are often combined with tree planting
Issues of land ownership and governance, such as securing the rights of the land
~ We choose our projects based upon our strategy and due diligence process not based on the cost of planting a tree.
~ We strive to plant as many trees as possible, but also recognize the need to support a wide variety of projects, with their ensuing variety of costs in order to have as great an impact as possible in as many ecosystems as we can.
Mapping the World's Intact Forest Landscapes by Remote Sensing. Potapov P., et al. Ecology and Society, 13. 2008. http://www.ecologyandsociety.org/vol13/iss2/art51/
FAO's Global Forest Resources Assessment 2005 http://www.fao.org/forestry/fra/fra2005/en/
Peter Potapov, Lars Laestadius, and Susan Minnemeyer. Global Map of Forest Landscape Restoration Opportunities. World Resources Institute: Washington, DC. 2008. www.wri.org/forest-restoration-atlas.
IUCN's Gender and Environment Index. http://environmentgenderindex.org/
Biodiversity Hotspots for Conservation Priorities, N. Myers et al. Nature 403, 853-858, 24 February 2000. http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v403/n6772/full/403853a0.html
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