Four main lessons for private sector restoration success, a guest blog by Planting Empowerment
Planting Empowerment presented at the ISTF on how its private sector model for mixed native species timber plantations is implemented with Indigenous Peoples communities and small landowners. Planting Empowerment suggested four main lessons for private sector restoration to be successful and scale-up:
1. Reduce Upfront Risk for Partners: Small landowners and Indigenous Peoples often don’t have many assets or safety nets, so placing land into a long term plantation, investing scarce cash into reforestation is not viable and short term income is needed from any project. Planting Empowerment reduces this risk by covering all expenses related to the reforestation (planting, pruning, etc.) and providing initial or monthly lease payments to partners.
2. Maintain Land Ownership: For Indigenous Peoples, “Land is Life.”, is a common refrain, thus to partner with Indigenous Peoples means leasing or finding a different method. With small landowners, their land asset is often their most valuable asset. Maintaining participation in future land appreciation and project profits in ensured through land ownership while reducing perverse incentives to deforest more.
3. More Inclusive Sharing of Revenue: Reforestation and timber plantations can take time to generate the financial returns. While there needs to be the short term income for partners, to maintain their interest over the plantation cycle partners should receive a portion of revenue. This will ensure less political risk at the micro or project level.
4. Long-term Professional Management: At the moment, many parts of the Indigenous Peoples’ lands and parcels of small landowners are not generating the maximum economic return (financial, social, and environmental) due to lack of capacity. Sustained long-term management and engagement is necessary. Planting Empowerment’s foresters and staff work with our partners to build their capacity with the anticipation that in 10-15 years they will replace our current staff of professionals.
Planting Empowerment’s Equitable Forestry model leverages private investment to finance all of the above. It is proving that the economic returns can be so significantly increased that investors can receive competitive risk adjusted returns while also compensating our partners with benefits substantially more than their opportunity cost.
The largest challenge the model faces in scaling is the lack of capital while investors continue to warm to the idea of competitive risk adjusted returns that also deliver social and environmental benefits. The ISTF was a great opportunity to debate and discuss the merits of the four lessons above and disseminate the model amongst leading policy makers, academics, and the private sector.
Lastly, we will plant 5 more hectares this year. Not the scale the world needs, but it is another contribution to what we expect will be larger and larger contributions in the future.
-Guest blog by Planting Empowerment