Judith Woodman l Palladium - Jun 30 2023
Growing Trees with Smallholder Farmers in the Tropics

Photo Credit: Taking Root

Growing trees with smallholder farmers in the tropics has emerged as one of the most effective natural restoration and climate mitigation solutions. Markets for climate-related claims, including the number of trees planted and carbon removals, have experienced exponential growth, reaching US$2 billion in value between 2020 and 2021.

However, there is a growing concern about who truly benefits from these markets. Do the local communities implementing climate solutions on the ground receive a fair share of this value? What should their fair share look like?

These questions are pivotal.

Taking Root, a project partner of Partnerships for Forests (P4F), is at the forefront of developing a global model for forest restoration that addresses the barriers faced by farmers, so they improve their livelihoods by growing trees. P4F, which is UK Aid-funded and managed by Palladium and Systemiq, helps create market-ready public-private-community forest partnerships and has helped to bring more than four million hectares of land under sustainable management.

Leveraging their extensive experience in building tropical reforestation initiatives over the past decade, Taking Root recently developed and launched a report with valuable insights and approaches to ensure fairness in benefit sharing. These lessons draw on the successful implementation of the smallholder farmer CommuniTree Carbon Program in Nicaragua, where native trees are cultivated alongside existing farming practices.

"As more organisations enter the market to accelerate reforestation, we need to ensure sufficient value continues to go to the communities growing trees,” says Eric Warner, Taking Root’s Marketing & Communications Lead. “This not only creates outcomes that are more equitable, but also ensures that growing trees is worth it for communities."

The concept of value encompasses various forms that can significantly contribute to the well-being of communities, such as cash payments, investment in job creation, improved farming practices, and climate resilience. With a multitude of options available, it is essential for buyers, project developers, and other market participants to understand how to select the most appropriate means of delivering value with communities.

"We can't restore nature at the scale required to solve the biodiversity and climate crises without including smallholder farmers,” adds Stuart Clouth, Global Portfolio Manager for P4F. “Ensuring that smallholder farmers are incentivised fairly to restore degraded land is critical. Partnerships for Forests welcomes the development of this informative knowledge product.”

The report serves as a guide for others seeking to integrate benefit sharing into their own projects. It emphasises the crucial need for all stakeholders to remain dedicated to prioritising the farmers and local communities on the ground as the primary beneficiaries.

Download ‘Equitable Benefit Sharing in Reforestation’ and contact info@thepalladiumgroup.com for more information. For more information on Taking Root’s work contact will@takingroot.org. Partnerships for Forests (P4F) catalyses investments in which the private sector, public sector and communities can achieve shared value from sustainable forests and sustainable land use. P4F is funded with UK aid and managed by Palladium in partnership with SYSTEMIQ.