Why reforesting the Amazon is no easy task: Plant Your Future featured in The New Statesman
Restoration of the rainforest will fail if it’s not led by the communities who live on and own the land…
While attending COP26 in November, our chairman Jenny Henman was interviewed by journalist Nick Ferris for his in-depth article published in The New Statesman.
Crucially, the article explored the challenge of restoring the Amazon on a large scale and highlighted how vital it is to recognise the needs of local communities who are the custodians of the rainforest. Ferris wrote:
“From an ecological point of view, the good news is that research published this month shows that deforested tropical forests can bounce back with remarkable speed. If there remains some portion of old forest – whether seed banks, fertile soil or residual trees – the forest can regrow when left untouched by humans for 20 years, to around 80 per cent of old-growth status.
“But the problem in much of the Amazon is that land does not serve a purely “natural” function; it is usually owned by people that rely on it for their economic survival. For reforestation to be successful, therefore, the conditions must be right for both people and nature. If communities can make money from more sustainable use of land, they are less likely to chop down trees.”
Acknowledging this reality is vital for the long-term success of restoration projects and the only way we can tackle climate change in a fair and equitable way. That’s why Plant Your Future champions community-led action through sustainable farming; our aim is for communities to take control of their own sustainable development, build resilience and lift themselves out of poverty, while increasing biodiversity on their land and fighting climate change.
Our chairman Jenny said:
“To successfully reforest the Amazon Rainforest it is critical to work with local communities, enabling them to transition away from unsustainable ranching and slash-and-burn farming into a model that rewards climate-smart farming and which brings trees back into the landscape. At the heart of any successful reforestation strategy has to be the livelihoods of local people.
“Over the last decade Plant Your Future is proud to have piloted and developed in consultation with Amazonian families a model that provides the financial incentives and technical support needed. It gives smallholder farmer families in the Amazon the tools they need to bring back deforested farmland.
“Our grassroots model is designed to ensure families can generate an income, from sale of fruits – such as cocoa – and including carbon finance, which recognises the service these farmers are providing by locking carbon dioxide away from the atmosphere in the trees they are growing.”
Our local Peruvian team of expert foresters work hand-in-hand with communities to train and equip them with the knowledge, skills and technical expertise to adopt and expand sustainable farming and to share agroforestry skills with others.
The long-term aim is to create a replicable model that will enable communities to restore larger areas of degraded land through productive, climate-smart and sustainable agriculture. We’re looking to create a paradigm shift to tree-based agroforestry in the Peruvian Amazon, through local communities seeing the positive incentives of having trees on their land and adopting agroforestry by preference. In doing so, they’ll increase forest cover, expand habitat for rare species, promote ecosystem connectivity, and fight climate change.
Our team specialises in cultivating native Amazon tree species, including endangered timber species, growing them alongside native crops – like charapita chilli peppers and cocoa – that fetch a high price of the market. This restores canopy cover with high-value species for biodiversity, while also enabling disadvantaged communities to increase their income and derive a sustainable livelihood.
As The New Statesman article highlights, restoring the Amazon while taking into account the social and economic needs of local communities is no easy task. It takes great patience, compassion, expertise and commitment. We’re extremely proud that our team has the values and skills to meet the challenge.