“When individuals join in a cooperative venture, the power generated far exceeds what they could have accomplished acting individually.” -R. Buckminster Fuller
ORGANIZATION NAME: Taking Root
SUMMARY: CommuniTree is a simple but practical, well-executed approach to tackling three interlinked problems: deforestation, climate change, and poverty. The project ingenuously connects the dots around CO2 reduction and the generation of sustainable, local economies through a multi-faceted reforestation program. The sale of carbon credits and sustainable wood products serve as financial mechanisms to support widespread reforestation by small, stakeholder farmers in areas vulnerable to the effects of climate change in Nicaragua.
PROBLEM SPACE: “CommuniTree tackles three interlinked problems: deforestation, climate change and poverty. Globally, deforestation and land-use change have been some of the largest contributors to climate change, biodiversity loss and other forms of environmental degradation. Our current work is in Nicaragua, where deforestation has reached a critical state, surpassing Brazil and Indonesia as the world’s most depleted forest environment (Kim, Sexton and Townshend, 2015). Deforestation is the second largest anthropogenic source of carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere, as 300 billion tons of carbon is stored in trees on 40 times greater than annual greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuels (Van Der Werf, G. R., 2009).
Because of lack of resources and sustainable land use planning, the main driver of deforestation in Nicaragua is the clearing of lands for cattle ranching, pastureland and subsistence agriculture. In addition to causing environmental damage, these activities only marginally improve the lives of smallholders and have not alleviated poverty. Moreover, climate change is now responsible for extreme and irregular weather events – natural disasters, soil erosion, floods, droughts and loss of arable land, creating a vicious cycle that has increased the economic vulnerability of subsistence farmers, who have no other readily available means of economic survival.”
“Deforestation and the need for reforestation is ultimately a socioeconomic problem. People are clearing forests all over the world to make room for new agricultural activities, or new ways of earning a livelihood. When people try to address deforestation by simply planting new trees, they lack a holistic view of the problem. The multi-faceted approach to the problem is our single largest innovation. Why are people engaging in land use changes that result in deforestation? Because they need to earn a better livelihood – so we address this by linking reforestation with earning an income.” -Kahlil Baker, Co-Founder and Executive Director of Taking Root
The economic incentive system of CommuniTree is critical in securing long-term buy-in and sustaining the attention of smallholder farmers who have little room for misallocation of time. This solution is sensitive to local needs yet tied to the global mechanism of carbon credit sales. Because of the immense acreage of degraded agricultural lands around the world, this approach has the potential to be emulated widely and to contribute greatly to global carbon sequestration, as well as to habitat restoration and poverty alleviation.