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. Today, we're raising funds to create habitat for monarch butterflies in Mexico. Learn more

With your help, we will:

  • Create breeding habitat for monarch butterflies
  • Work with small-holder farmers for local community impact
  • Reduce soil erosion & prevent landslides
  • This project focuses on both farmland conversion and forest restoration to improve biodiversity habitats in an essential migration corridor for numerous species, most notably the Monarch butterfly. By densely planting native species with the cooperation of local landowners and indigenous communities, we can make sure that Senguio and Ocampo's natural beauty is restored for future generations of people and wildlife.. Thank you so much for your support of healthy forests! 🌲
  • Communities and landowners will be taught sustainable forestry practices such as proper planting techniques, sustainable harvesting, the importance of recycling and waste management, and land and plant protection. This will create jobs and opportunities for those most impacted by the project.
  • 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 partner will plant native species, including Oyamel pine, smooth-bark Mexican pine, Chihuahua pine, and Cupressus lindleyi.

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