Follow the Progress of 1 Million Trees
Discover the 1 Million Trees program via our interactive webmap:
Borneo is the largest Indonesian island and the third largest island in the world. Borneo is divided between Indonesia, Malaysia and Brunai, but Indonesia covers about 70% of the islands land mass. The Indonesian part is called Kalimantan and is organized in five provinces, the largest of which, Central Kalimantan, is our program area.
Natural integrity and rural livelihoods in Borneo are threatened by illegal logging, gold mining, and the expansion of monocultures like palm oil. Together with the local population we want to stop that.
Large parts of rainforest were cut down in the rural areas of Central Kalimantan. The remaining forests are severely threatened by population pressure, legal and illegal logging and the ongoing expansion of palm oil plantations. In most of the deforested areas, soils are extremely degraded, as the thin layer of fertile soil has eroded and the natural nutrient cycling of the vegetation ceased. This is a major concern for rural communities, whose traditional livelihoods depend on forestry, slash and burn agriculture on small plots and limited sales of rubber and other cash crops from the rainforest. Only the sustainable and natural rehabilitation of infertile areas can help local communities to improve their livelihoods.
In cooperation with local communities, we are restoring the fertility of 1,000 hectares of deforested and strongly degraded soil in Central Kalimantan and reforesting these areas with mixed species systems. The technical term for this process is “Forest Landscape Restoration”. It is our goal to identify a close-to-nature land use system, which has benefits for people, the environment and climate at the same time. We are working together with smallholders, train and support them to establish fields with a mixture of fast-growing merchantable timber and nutritious vegetable plants. In all of these capacity building measures, we are mainstreaming gender equality. Since the farmers will plant these 1,000 hectares with one million trees in total, we have called our program 1m Trees (One Million Trees). Our ultimate goal is to provide an example for integrative and successful Forest Landscape Restoration and to develop methods and economic models that allow us and others to restore degraded lands on a large scale.
As an international development organization, we are integrating our projects with the international community’s targets in regard to human development, climate protection and reforestation. Our program is contributing to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the United Nations, especially Goal 1 (Poverty reduction) and Goal 15 (Sustainable Forestry) among many others. 1m Trees also showcases, how “Forest Landscape Restoration” could look in practice: we are generating incomes for the local population and protect the environment and our climate simultaneously. Thus, together with Indonesian authorities we are contributing towards the commitments made by the international community under the Bonn Challenge – to reforest 350 million hectares of forest until 2030 – into practice. We are inspired by the Strategic Plan for Forests, adopted by the United Nations in April 2017, with the aim of a more sustainable handling of forests around the world.
- Forest Landscape Restoration
We are supporting farmers to restore former forest areas that are barren and unproductive today. Farmers have the opportunity to participate in trainings and receive seedlings, enabling them to establish so-called multi-species agroforestry systems. Those are a combination of fast-growing valuable timber (e.g. Sengon), fruit trees and nutritious plants such as cassava, peanuts or vegetables. It is possible to replant areas with very low soil fertility through careful selection of the plant species, intense testing before planting and the use of organic fertilizers such as vermicompost. The replanting in turn stops erosion, restores water and nutrient cycles and mitigates climate change, as the growing trees absorb carbon from the air and thereby neutralize it. At the same time, farmers are able to produce food for their own consumption and timber and other cash crops for sale, improving their livelihoods.
- Value Chain Approach
Through our cooperation with the farmers in Central Kalimantan we are covering the very beginning of the timber value chain. We are supporting the planting of fast-growing lightwood timber species that are finding uses in many sectors now instead of hard woods from natural forests. Thus, we are alleviating the pressure on the remaining natural forests by producing in the buffer zones around the existing forests. At the same time, we are supporting the Indonesian wood processing industry to develop new products based on lightwood and to market them, both nationally and internationally. Through these activities, we are making sure that the farmers in Kalimantan have market access and are thus enabled for fair benefit-sharing. We also support the Indonesian wood industry’s transformation process towards more sustainable business practices. European importers and traders are contributing to the program and allow us to replant each tree, that is sold here as a part of wood products. Hence, the circle is closed and we create an example for a modern, sustainable value chain.
- Digitalization and Monitoring
Since the early days of the program, we emphasize transparency and strive to understand the efforts’ impacts in detail. Ever since we have put great importance to measuring and monitoring, have collected data on tree growth under different conditions and have documented exactly where, when and by whom the trees were planted. Thus, we are improving our understanding about the connections between soil, climate and planting combinations year by year. The interactive map displayed above is one prominent result of our work. At the moment, we are preparing a complete digitalization of the infrastructure of our monitoring. In the future, smallholders will be able to track tree growth and value of their trees digitally. With such a wealth of data, we strengthen all actors along the value chain, create a solid data basis for certification, public and private investment in reforestation and agriculture, and connect buyers and sellers of timber.
We will have planted the one million trees by 2018. Until then, we will be able to prove conclusively that our economic incentive schemes work and our planting combinations are ecologically sound. The next challenge will then be a wide-ranging scaling-up of our concepts.
Starting 2019, we will set ourselves a new goal: 100 million trees in diverse, but not too complex planting combinations. We are fully aware that an expansion on this scale will be an enormous challenge. We are convinced that it is possible, given that the following prerequisites are fulfilled:
- We have designed and implemented a transparent monitoring system that creates trust in and by all involved stakeholders
- We have won additional supporters, whose contributions allow us to continue our work, balancing different interests, drive applied research and charge all available opportunities
- We have found additional commercial partners, who are willing to work with us on the sustainable production and sale of timber and agricultural products
- Last but not least, we have identified commercial investors who want to use their capital to seriously conduct “Forest Landscape Restoration” while keeping their own profit in mind, with environmental and social returns supplementing the financial returns.
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Insights into our Work
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