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  • Wyss Academy

Trees4All: 12,200 New Trees with an Impressive 94% Survival Rate

In the rural Santisuk District of Nan Province in Northern Thailand, the Wyss Academy for Nature is supporting the Regional Centre for People and Forests (RECOFTC) through the Trees4All initiative. This collaboration aims to work with local farmers to reshape reforestation and landscape restoration approaches. Over two years (2022-2024), the concerted efforts of 99 dedicated farmers have seen 12,200 trees planted, boasting an impressive 94% survival rate. This collective endeavor is breathing new life into a landscape previously transformed from an ecologically diverse forested area to maize monoculture during Thailand’s cash crop boom in the 1980s. Through Trees4All, Santisuk District is transforming Nan’s barren landscapes into a diverse ecosystem once again. 

Farmers plant trees, track the growth of the trees, and report the information to tree sponsors.©RECOFTC

Transparency, collaboration, and innovation 

Traditional reforestation approaches in Thailand were initially driven by corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiatives, with private sector companies engaging in tree planting primarily for photo opportunities and good press. However, these activities often lacked transparency and accountability, with minimal to no follow-up or longer-term funding, nor local community engagement to ensure the survival of the planted trees.  

Trees4All delivers a new transparent approach to reforestation that positions farmers and local communities center stage. Under Trees4All, farmers take responsibility for planting and nurturing trees. Working with RECOFTC, farmers gain invaluable skills in tree growth monitoring, care, and maintenance. Experienced Trees4All farmers are further empowered to become district-level mentors and pass on their knowledge to newcomers eager to join Trees4All. 

Crucially, the native species planted are carefully selected by local farmers to provide reforestation and additional livelihood benefits. For instance, ‘Yang Na’ trees (Dipterocarpus alatus) contribute to reforestation and offer the opportunity for high-valued Caesar mushroom (Amanita hemibapha) cultivation once matured, with the fallen leaves serving as a natural fertilizer. Furthermore, RECOFTC actively explores alternative livelihood options with farmers while waiting for the trees to mature, such as beekeeping. 

A farmer enters tree information into the Trees4All monitoring system. ©RECOFTC

Central to Trees4All is an innovative finance mechanism designed to enhance transparency and accountability through accessible and traceable data. Private individuals or corporate donors provide financing for tree planting and maintenance, and Trees4All farmers are trained to measure and record tree data in the Trees4All smartphone app. This app is linked to the Trees4All Website which features reporting data. Through the website, donors can locate trees they financed from geographic coordinate information and the tree map, monitor their growth, estimate carbon absorption potential, and receive reports on planting outcomes.  

This mechanism effectively bridges the gap and fosters transparency and trust between trained farmers possessing land and individuals or entities with financial resources. Consequently, public engagement and donations surge, boosting farmers' confidence and commitment to Trees4All. Donations have increased from just over 400,000 baht in the rainy season of 2022 to over 1.5 million baht by January 2024. 

Looking Towards the Future  

The Trees4All initiative's lessons will be instrumental in advancing Wyss Academy for Nature’s broader work in Southeast Asia's forest frontiers. Trees4All demonstrates that when provided with the necessary skills and resources, local communities can be empowered to enhance biodiversity and improve livelihoods through collaborative approaches. Trees4All is sowing the seeds of transformation, nurturing sustainable ecosystems, and empowering communities to shape a greener, more resilient future for generations to come.  


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