APPROACH AND METHODOLOGY
Timberland's commitment to the development of large scale agro-forestry programs is grounded in a formula of convergence and collaboration. Success is contingent upon collaboration with Timberland, its NGO partners, local civic leaders and citizen stakeholders who are the beneficiaries of the projects. In both its China and Haiti-based agro-forestry programs, Timberland partners with NGOs that are agroforestry experts adept at working with people to improve livelihoods and restore degraded lands to sustainable productivity - through not only planting beneficial trees but also providing training in agricultural land management and maintenance. In China, Timberland is continuing a ten-year partnership with Green Network, a Japan-based NGO. The success of this initial partnership, which includes a great deal of support from the local farming community which has benefited from the tree planting and the training in sustainable farming methods, inspired Timberland to introduce the program in other areas of the world that are in need of reforestation support. In Haiti, Timberland collaborates with Washington D.C.-based Trees for the Future and the Yele Haiti Foundation.
Central to the methodologies of the NGOs is the implementation of a long range plan to transition tree planting and agroforesty duties to the local farming population. In both the China reforestation project and the Haiti tree nursery program, tree species are chosen by the NGOs in consultation with the local farmers with the intention to plant and propagate species that will produce environmental, social and economic benefits for the farmers and communities. It is not the trees alone that increase income for the farmers. For example in Haiti, the Yele Vert trees are used for shelter belts, land stabilization, producing fruit, producing usable leaves (such as Moringa olifera), trees for building material and for charcoal - they contribute directly and indirectly to increased income. The agricultural service provides the most immediate increased income because the farmers get a higher yield with each crop. They have previously been caught in a cycle where they can not afford better quality seed at the time of planting and so their yield is less than it could be and so their profit declines. The agricultural service of Y?le Vert breaks that cycle.
The goal is that after 2-3 years, the projects are handed over to the local farming cooperatives to manage with regular oversight from both the communities and the NGOs once a) farmers have shown proficiency in implementing and sharing their agroforestry training; b) sustained tree growth is established; and c) the farmers' agricultural crop yields reach sustained productive levels.
Built into each project are quarterly and annual reporting structures that require the designated NGO partner to provide comprehensive feedback and status updates on their projects - including number and species of trees planted; number of participating farmers; social, environmental and economic impact analysis; survival rates of trees; financial update and an overview of challenges and opportunities based on the project lifespan and current state.
IMPLEMENTATION, TIMELINE, AND DELIVERABLES
The Horqin Desert project is a five-year commitment to plant one million trees and support the local farming community with ongoing education. The program is a continuation of a ten-year, one million tree project Timberland recently completed with Green Net. Timberland's annual funding of the program will cover the cost of trees, tools, farmer education and volunteer trips for employees and colleagues to assist with the twice annual tree plantings. The activities remain the same throughout the five year period but the project reach will and the reliance on Green Net to provide training will be transferred to local farmers.
The Yele Vert project is a five-year commitment to building as many community-based tree nurseries as possible throughout rural Haiti. The activities remain the same throughout the five year period, changing only in that they move towards self-financing by introducing a small fee for the agricultural service component of the program; and achieve self-sufficiency within three years.
The major challenge in this will be getting to scale so that the various Y?le Vert programs can begin to purchase seed in bulk and pass the resulting savings back to the individual programs. The national structure to manage this process does not yet exist, but the intention is to have it managed to the degree possible by the farmer groups involved in the management of each of the individual Y?le Vert programs.
Timberland will work with Trees for the Future & Yele Haiti to identify sites and geographic regions that will allow the initial Gonaives project to be replicated. Funds provided by Timberland cover the initial start up costs of tree seeds, fertilizers, nursery construction materials and supplies, and farmer education.
As recently as 30 years ago, the Horqin region of the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region of China was covered in verdant grasslands. Now the area is facing severe desertification, with the major cause believed to be the loss of grassland due to cultivation and over-grazing by domestic livestock. Timberland is providing funds to Green Network, a Japan-based NGO, to support the planting of 100,000 to 200,000 trees annually as well as organizing two annual trips for employees and associates to join the local farmers in planting the trees and maintaining the 400+ hectares already planted by Timberland. A principle feature of Timberland's agro-foresty project in the Horqin Desert is the establishment of a system in which the local people, who are primarily engaged in pastoral agriculture, can carry on with the reforestation work under their own initiative. Green Network is training these people to understand the methods and benefits of sustainable reforestation and land management and integrate those methods into their daily farming practices.
Haiti faces similar issues but with the added challenges of food security and wathershed management. The loss of tree cover, reduction of agricultural production and general degradation of the natural environment in Haiti has exacerbated existing problems. There have been many attempts, but few examples of significant success. Those that have had results have been small scale, community based programs that depended largely on farmers as implementers. Timberland is providing funds to build tree nurseries, run by local farmers, as part of the Y?le Vert program that combines this community based approach with a service to improve agricultural production. Y?le Vert was created by the Y?le Haiti Foundation and is administered by Trees for the Future. Y?le Vert combines community-based agroforestry and environmental education into a new and sustainable program of tree planting, agricultural improvement and environmental restoration. Timberland is currently funding six Y?le Vert nurseries in the Gonaives region that will produce more than 1 million trees annually. The local activities of these tree nurseries and agricultural services will be self financing after two years of operation, at which time Timberland will work with Trees For The Future to replicate the Y?le Vert program in other areas of Haiti.
1.) SOURCE OF BAGS FOR GROWING TREES - The largest ongoing expense is the purchase of the small black plastic bags needed for growing the trees. Despite a program to recycle at least 20% of the bags used, it would be helpful to find either a very inexpensive source for bulk purchase or a donation of several million bags. The current price is US$.25 per 1,000 bags in Port-au-Prince.
2.)CONTACTING POTENTIAL BUYERS OF TREES - The Smalholders Farmers Alliance in Gonaives currently grows one million trees annually and would like to begin selling some of them in order to add an income stream to the farmers as they gradually take on the management and self-financing of the program. The first 100,000 trees designated for sale will be available in May and June 2012, with a minimum order of 5,000 for trees suited to reforestation and 1,000 for fruit trees. Timberland is seeking assistance in reaching out to potential purchasers of these trees, including help in distributing a pdf-format sales flyer to donor governments, NGOs and international institutions based in Haiti.
3.) SPONSORS FOR FARMER TRAINING COURSE - Although ongoing training in both forestry and agriculture is part of the program, in addition an intensive certificate course for farmers who want an intensive training is being creaed. The course will involve a total of 60 days of instruction spread out over a year and designed to take place during down times in the farm calendar. Half the farmers will be from Timberland's program and they will pay a nominal fee, but for the 20 farmers who are not part of the program (but who are from the area) scholarship sponsors at $1,500 per farmer for the full 60 day course are being sought. These funds go directly to the farmers as part of the self-financing component of the program.
4.) FUNDING FOR ADDITIONAL MODULES OF PROGRAM - Timberland's agroforestry program has been designed to be replicated, with each module intended to become self-financing within three full years of operation. Each module will replicate the original in the Gonaives area: roughly 2,000 farmers engage in growing approximately one million trees a year and receive seed and training to increase crop production by around 40% on average on roughly 1,500 hectares of land. Funding for two additional modules-one to begin operation in January 2013 and the second to start in July 2013 is being sought. Each three-year module is approximately US$700,000.