What makes a high-quality tree growing project

News 24.03.22


From flooding and droughts to species extinction and land degradation, the impacts of climate change on nature are already widespread, threatening nature and the livelihoods that depend on it. Scientific research has made it clear that we only have a very brief window of time remaining to prevent the worst effects of climate change.

Nature can play a critical role in combating climate change and meeting the goals of the Paris Agreement. Nature-based solutions can deliver one-third of the climate solution needed to limit global warming to 1.5°C by 2030, and help communities adapt to the changing climate.

Companies are increasingly waking up to the fact that they cannot achieve net-zero without protecting nature. At COP26 in Glasgow, 95 businesses pledged to halt and reverse the decline of nature by 2030, indicative of a growing interest in nature-based solutions from the business community.

Private tree growing is an effective method of financing nature-based solutions and removing carbon emissions from the atmosphere. When done correctly, tree-growing can deliver positive social and environmental benefits, including restoring degraded ecosystems, protecting biodiversity, and supporting Indigenous and local communities.

What are the barriers to effective investment in tree growing?

More and more businesses are turning to forest and tree projects to reduce their emissions and protect nature, either through purchasing carbon credits or investing in forest restoration projects. However, there are hundreds of projects and providers to choose from around the world and a lack of reliable guidance to help companies identify the good from the bad.

As a result, forest projects have been historically mistrusted or considered a failure. This is partly because of a misguided focus on “tree planting” as a quick fix solution rather than “tree growing” as a long-term investment in our planet’s future.

To deliver much-needed finance to tree growing projects that deliver real and lasting impact for people and nature, we urgently need greater transparency and understanding of what makes a good restoration scheme. Companies looking to invest in tree growing projects would benefit hugely from clear and accessible information about what best practice looks like and how to identify it.

The Reforest Better Guide simplifies high impact investment in nature

The Reforest Better Guide offers an accessible and easy-to-use methodology to help companies understand the quality of tree growing schemes and identify high-impact projects to fund.

Rooted in science, the interactive guide takes users through a set of questions to help them identify the most effective and ethical restoration projects to invest in. It measures the success of a project by rating it against 13 key metrics of good practice. These metrics include plant species selection, the inclusion and involvement of Indigenous and local communities, and transparency on how baseline emissions are calculated. With this information, the guide uses a traffic light system to show the quality of a restoration project, which considers its impact and wider benefits for the environment and society.

What are the benefits of using the Reforest Better Guide?

Companies are able to make more informed decisions before investing in tree growing schemes. Guiding investment in high-quality projects leads to more effective carbon emissions reductions, in turn helping companies and industries to meet their climate targets.

Beyond carbon mitigation, channelling investment into high-quality reforestation brings further social and environmental benefits. This includes biodiversity conservation with a focus on promoting and protecting native plant species and providing a framework for sustainable land management, to restore degraded ecosystems in a durable manner.

High-impact projects will also offer social benefits including employment and income opportunities. They will ensure that Indigenous rights are protected and that local communities have a say in decision-making.

What best practice looks like: Tree growing in India

In Eastern India, the Adivasi tribes in the Araku Valley are among the most disadvantaged in the country. The region has suffered from severe deforestation under English colonial rule, resulting in soil erosion, land degradation and poverty. The Naandi Foundation works to tackle this poverty by growing trees and restoring nature to support local livelihoods.

Today, over six million trees have been planted and 6,000 ha of degraded lands restored. The forested land provides shelter and food for wildlife, and income opportunities for local communities, who can harvest crops including coffee beans and mangoes from the new trees. This has also increased food security for small and marginalized communities and improved agricultural productivity.

How can businesses use the Reforest Better Guide?

Corporates looking to improve their sustainability credentials or offset their carbon emissions with meaningful impacts for local biodiversity and communities can take advantage of the online Reforest Better Guide to identify and review high-quality projects.

Similarly, reforestation project managers, NGOs and conservation organizations would do well to use the guide to assess existing projects and identify the potential for improvement of overall performance and scale

As the recent IPCC report made clear, we have a window of opportunity to make meaningful investments in nature — for the benefit of ecosystems, communities, and long-term planetary health. The Reforest Better Guide is one of the best tools that we have available to accelerate this investment and meet climate targets.

The Reforest Better Guide comes from Hamerkop Climate Impacts, a climate change and climate finance boutique consultancy, in partnership with Nature4Climate.

Organizations also involved in the development of the guide include: