How the Restoration Economy Can Incentivize Growing Trees

Sofia Faruqi & Will Anderson | | May 14, 2020 | 3 min read

How do we simultaneously fight climate change and improve food security? Is there a way for us to protect wildlife while creating jobs? What about better air and water quality?

The answer: landscape restoration.

Restoring degraded land by growing trees in forests and on farms not only benefits the environment, it is also a major economic opportunity for people living in rural areas. Trees that grow and protect crops like coffee and cocoa, for example, provide a lifeline for communities and help them tap into growing sustainable supply chains.

The global restoration movement has so far been led and funded primarily by governments that have pledged to restore over 170 million hectares of degraded land – an area the size of Libya – through alliances like AFR100 in Africa and Initiative 20x20 in Latin America and the Caribbean. But that political commitment hasn’t yet been matched by private sector excitement. To unlock that funding, restoration needs to deliver a financial return.

At WRI, we are working to make restoration profitable and capable of attracting private investment. By making the economic case, we are catalyzing a growing space with the potential to deliver significant financial, environmental, and social returns. The recent announcement of ambitious programs like the Priceless Planet Coalition, which aims to grow 100 million trees, and the global Trillion Trees  coalition is giving the movement a new wind. And One Tree Planted added 4 million trees to landscapes just last year.

Fortunately, WRI is not working alone to build this new restoration economy. Hundreds of entrepreneurs – over 500 in Africa alone – are already hard at work aiming to make the restoration of land a practical and profitable endeavor. Some of these businesses are profiled in the Business of Planting Trees, a report from WRI and the Nature Conservancy.

But the path forward is not easy. The Roots of Prosperity report identified that there are serious barriers that these businesses need to overcome to scale up. In particular, entrepreneurs lack access to the capital, training, and mentoring they need to succeed, as well as the technical training that they need to pitch investors effectively, build strong business plans, and communicate about their work.

Land Accelerator
Land Accelerator Group

That’s why we created the Land Accelerator, a bootcamp for entrepreneurs whose businesses restore land, create jobs, and turn a profit. The 26 fellows in Africa that have completed the Land Accelerator, like Mavis Nduchwa of Kalahari Honey, whose business sells high-quality honey products grown under a canopy of trees in dry Botswana, have so far raised more than $500,000. To build on this momentum, we are continuing the Land Accelerator in Africa and expanding the program to Latin America and South Asia.

These entrepreneurs have inspired us to step up our effort to grow this economy, and we hope their stories can inspire you, too. Some of the world’s most innovative companies have come out of periods of crisis. If you have an idea for a business that heals the Earth, this is the moment where market opportunity meets planetary need. For a real restoration economy to bloom, we need thousands of people united to build a brighter future.

Applications are open for the Land Accelerator. Please go here for more details!

Plant Trees Where They're Needed Most
Plant Trees Where They're Needed Most
Plant Trees Where They're Needed Most
Plant Trees Where They're Needed Most
Plant Trees Where They're Needed Most
Plant Trees Where They're Needed Most
Plant Trees Where They're Needed Most
Plant Trees Where They're Needed Most
Plant Trees Where They're Needed Most
Plant Trees Where They're Needed Most
Plant Trees Where They're Needed Most
Plant Trees Where They're Needed Most

Plant Trees Where They're Needed Most

As the need for reforestation is global and ever-changing, we feature where trees are most needed now. For Treecember, we're planting trees that support a global forest fire recovery fund. Learn more

With your help, we will:

  • Reforest lands damaged by record-setting fires
  • Support healthy habitat for iconic biodiversity
  • Plant tree species that will help reduce future fire impact
  • This holiday season, we’re planting trees in areas around the world that have been severely affected by forest fires and aren't able to recover a healthy ecosystem on their own. The most common naturally-caused wildfires occur during droughts or dry weather, and under these circumstances, trees and other vegetation are converted to flammable fuel. Human-caused forest fires can be a result of various activities like unregulated slash and burn agriculture, equipment failure or engine sparks, and discarded cigarettes.

    After wildfires, reforestation is essential in areas where the fire intensity burned off available seed supply within the soil, and/or where there are not enough healthy trees still growing and producing new seeds nearby. Reforestation starts once professional assessments have been made to determine where human intervention would be the most ecologically beneficial. Help restore these vital ecosystems by planting a tree. 🌿
  • Every year, forest fires are increasing in size and severity, damaging vital ecosystems and creating a need for millions of trees. Some major consequences of forest fires include significant loss of wildlife, loss of vegetation, soil erosion, air pollution, and greenhouse gas emissions.

    With so much fire damage, reforestation is essential to catalyze the environmental recovery process. The trees are carefully planted to prevent invasive species from colonizing burn scars and restore quality habitat for native biodiversity. One Tree Planted is connecting with on-the-ground partners to establish viable reforestation projects when the recently affected regions are ready for planting. This fund will contribute to planting projects in British Columbia, Idaho, Ghana, Portugal, and beyond. Let's get to work! 🌲
  • A personalized tree certificate (see gallery) to say thanks for your donation. We'll also send you updates about this project, so you can track the impact your trees are having on the community and environment.
  • To maximize the impact of your donation, our partners on the ground will determine the most appropriate species of tree and shrubs. We only plant native tree species that will restore the local ecosystem, re-establish wildlife habitat, and reduce the likelihood of future fires.

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