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TreeSisters’ New Restoration Strategy

TreeSisters is delighted to share our new Restoration Strategy, which shifts our approach to

reforestation, integrating respect, equity, collaboration and connection into ecological restoration and conservation.


TreeSisters has been supporting

reforestation projects for over ten years. Along the way, we have gained a wealth of experience working with numerous planting partners, experts, allies and Original Peoples. Yet what we have heard from those replanting, managing and protecting forests has often been at odds with the wider reforestation sector. We also realised we had unintentionally fallen into a transactional approach, focusing on scale and ‘tree price’ rather than broader and more holistic nature and community impacts. By accepting the conventional reforestation approach, we adopted the same method built on colonialist and patriarchal thinking embedded within the reforestation sector.

We also realised we had unintentionally fallen into a transactional approach, focusing on scale and ‘tree price’ rather than broader and more holistic nature and community impacts.

Through the co-development of an Ethical Tree Growing Framework (due to launch this year), TreeSisters has been in a process of deep listening with the Original Nations of The Fountain, our planting partners and other allies to share knowledge about more ethical tree-growing and forest regeneration. Concurrently, TreeSisters has been undergoing a radical shift, intending to truly live our values with a revised organisational vision, mission and charitable objectives.

The resulting Strategy intends to rebalance power dynamics, support connections with nature and value the knowledge of those working directly with the natural environment they inhabit. Some of the key changes TreeSisters are implementing include the following:

Community-led projects

Uplifting and empowering communities to lead the restoration of the lands they inhabit

Two men load a wheelbarrow with trees in Brazil

Instead of being led by a conventional approach to tree planting, monitoring and reporting in a funder/funded ‘power-over’ dynamic, we aim to foster trust and work collaboratively with partners, ensuring that communities’ viewpoints, choices, self-determination and agency are centred. Part of this is providing funding for what communities actually need, which may mean nursery equipment or community training, not just trees. This steps away from the transactional, scale-driven mindset and top-down imposition of ideas because it is the right thing to do and because these investments will have longer-term benefits, not just locally but planet-wide. Additionally, whilst we continue to support projects led by the forest and rural communities within the tropics, we particularly encourage and support the projects of Original and Indigenous Peoples worldwide. Due to traditional ecological knowledge and ancestral wisdom, these communities often embody profoundly deep connections with the earth. We also recognise the importance of supporting those historically deprived of their land and access to natural resources.

Ethical, nature-led restoration

Nature is conscious, intelligent, and has inherent rights.

Light shining onto a rainforest waterfall

TreeSisters extends inherent value to all of nature. Through this, we support projects led by local communities, particularly those with deep experience listening to or working with the land they inhabit. By fostering local traditional knowledge, ensuring more ethical partnerships and sustainable forest stewardship, we can support the health of our planet and its inhabitants for generations to come.

Gender equity and women’s empowerment

Gender equity and women’s empowerment are deeply embedded in all our work.

TreeSisters seeks to ensure women’s voices are heard and will support projects that strengthen gender equity. Whilst we understand that this may mean different things in different contexts, we recognise the unique knowledge held by women in many cultures and the essential role they play in sustainable land use and community resource management. As our education work refocuses on what’s needed to encourage everyone (regardless of gender) to realign with nature, we’ll also be supporting gender equity by championing women foresters and spotlighting relevant gender-based issues in the reforestation sector.

The new approach in action:

  • We will continue to adapt our operations and processes, making them more accessible and appropriate to communities on the ground. We expect this implementation process to be fully complete by 2025.

  • We’ll integrate the lessons learnt from our listening process and continue to listen to Original and Indigenous Peoples, planting partners, local communities and other allies. We envision a collaborative learning and empowerment journey for all involved in our restoration strategy. Examples of the necessary changes include revising the project application process, project review process and criteria, contracts and agreements, relationship management, monitoring, and funding timelines, to name a few!

  • We are exploring the implementation of a ‘project nursery’, where potential partners who need more infrastructure to gain traditional funding can rely on us for both funding and support.

  • We will soon implement a scaled-back approach to monitoring and evaluation. Rest assured; we will continue to gather key metrics and data to ensure the effective use of charity funds. However, we will focus on the real-world impact of these donations, providing more autonomy for partners to tell us what’s important to them and why. We will also develop a conscious Monitoring Evaluation and Learning system (MEL) that cultivates relationships based on reflection, honesty and learning, embedding the Ethical Tree Growing Framework principles and working practices into this approach. We plan to implement this new MEL system and associated metrics from 2024 onwards.

  • We intend to create a space for listening, exchanging and learning for our restoration partners. This space will also facilitate a knowledge transfer across our other partnerships, including business partnerships and NGOs, which we hope will inspire a cultural transformation in the restoration sector.

  • We will explore ways to lift and amplify the voices of our restoration partners and communities to share their experiences through storytelling, videos, panels and other creative formats.

A new call for projects aligned with this approach will begin in the second half of 2023.


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