We are going from "planting trees" to "growing trees", thinking with a long-term perspective. Choosing the right species, with the possibility to grow a sufficient number of them, is of great importance. Including local communities is fundamental for the success of any business that aims to grow trees and not just plant them. These are the three key messages of the largest digital forum in the world on global environmental challenges, entitled "Can planting trees save our planet?". We are happy and proud to identify within these messages the pure meaning of Treedom's work since our foundation in 2010.
The meeting, organised by the Global Landscapes Forum, which connects over 4,000 organisations around the world, is engaged in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals and complying with the Paris Agreement on climate issues. It opened with this key question on 29 September. Nearly 5,000 participants, from 123 countries, tuned in to the forum, which included 27 presentations, and reached at least five million people through social media.
The decisive points after an extensive debate – not only in terms of numbers, but also the issues addressed – were summarised in the final report which you can read here.
To give you an even more concise summary, we focused on the three points indicated by Tony Simons (Director General, World Agroforestry) and Robert Nasi (Director General, Center for International Forestry Research).
From "planting trees" to "growing trees"
"The right tree for the right place and the right purpose: tree planters should become tree growers with a long-term horizon." What emerged most clearly from all the speakers at the forum was that this is the number one, most important challenge for those who believe in the challenge of a greener world. Planting a tree doesn't mean sowing a seed, it's a much more complex job. Not only from a technical point of view – in fact, skills and resources are needed to create suitable places for small trees to germinate and grow – but also and most importantly, from a strategic point of view.
Going from being "planters" of trees to their "growers" means thinking about the medium and long term; identifying the right tree for the right place and the right purpose is fundamental. We at Treedom have been working with this in mind for many years, and we are happy and proud that this approach has been accepted by a wider community as the winning choice for the future. In fact, we choose which trees to plant in our projects after careful conversations with the communities involved, precisely because they will be the ones who will take care of them over time. This means identifying the most useful trees, each with its own function and contributing benefits to other species – according to the philosophy of agro-forestry systems – to create an ecosystem capable of maintaining itself over time.
Quality seeds in the necessary quantities.
"The right tree requires the right seed source. Planting and cultivating a diverse range of trees means having quality seeds available in the necessary quantities". This is another aspect – by no means trivial – that has been at the core of Treedom's work for many years. The creation of equipped nurseries and the training of staff capable of nurturing them is one of the activities we have invested in over the years. We are aware that only in doing so would we be able to create the main infrastructure needed to carry out our work effectively. Inside these nurseries we are able to germinate large quantities of seeds of different species of trees, ensuring that each one has the ideal conditions to grow until the most opportune moment for it to be transferred to the ground.
The role of communities
"The inclusion of local communities, men, women and young people, is vital to help ensure the survival of every tree planted." This statement, which concluded the summary of the forum, has been part of Treedom's DNA since its foundation in 2010, and sums up what it means to be "tree growers" and not simply "planters". It is essential to involve local communities right from the beginning, in order to start and then carry out each project, with the prospect of seeing them grow and develop successfully. It is the local communities that are personally involved, they are the ones who take care of the trees, they are the ones who enjoy their fruit. Ultimately, they are the best guarantee that those trees will be protected and cared for in order to grow and live as long as possible.
Over time, we have had many occasions to see the truth of our beliefs confirmed (a recent study by the forestry department of Yale University addressed this topic in an extremely interesting way), but seeing this principle recognised as the cornerstone of a global strategy to create a greener world confirms the value of our work, and is a wonderful incentive to try to make it even better and even bigger!