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TreeCapital - Restoring environmental resilience and stewardship for economic prosperity.

Harnessing Landscape restoration activities to build climate resilience and economic empowerment for rural communities.

Photo of Batte Charles

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Explain your project idea (2,000 characters)

Identifying the problem:
 1. Youth Unemployment; 78% of Ugandans are unemployed (USAID2011), 80% of these are youths (World Bank2011); 44% of them are in rural areas and migrate to the city (USAID 2006) seeking better opportunities (Herrin et al), which are unavailable and thus end up in drugs, crime and slums.
2. Deforestation: in the last 15 years, Uganda’s forest cover has declined by 26% (NEMA/UNEP).

Solution:
1. Households with "vulnerable" young people are identified through local community leadership. Members are engaged in discussions on economic potential of commercial forestry. Family consents to join the TreeCapital program and an agreement is signed. The agreement stipulates that the family:
- Sets aside a piece of land where 300 - 600 trees are planted with TAU support.
- Takes 60% of profits at harvest.
- Commits to use the income as start up capital for a small business.

2. The family is also trained on sustainable land management (SLM) and participates in a visioning process for harnessing agroforestry to build climate resilience for their agricultural land. TAU supports the family to plant local indigenous trees around the boundaries of their gardens. The trees serves several purposes:
- Act as a boundary to keep out encroachers and prevent land wrangles.
- Add nutrients to the soil; thus supporting sustainable agriculture
- Act as wind breakers to protect crops against the strong winds.
- Provide fruits that can supplement the nutrition of children.
- Offset carbon for our corporate partners thus generating short term income.

3. We use a mobile phone app "TreeCorder" to take a picture of each planted tree and collect data on its GPS location, species name, date planted, and household-head name. Each tree picture is converted into a "green certificate" that is sold to corporate partners through "corporate gifting" to generate short term revenue.

Who are the beneficiaries? (1,000 characters)

Our beneficiaries:
Our program targets households with the most "vulnerable" young people in the communities. Beneficiaries are selected according to the following criteria. Primary beneficiaries are households with:
- Orphans; young people who have lost one or both parents
- School drop outs
- Young people with unplanned pregnancies
- Young people living with HIV/AIDS
- Young people whose parent(s) are living with HIV/AIDS
- Child laborers; young people who are working
- Young people with children (dependents)
- Young people forced into early marriages
- Young people who have been left to fend for themselves

How is your idea unique? (1,000 characters)

The unique advantages of approach that ensure success include:
- Focus on "empowerment" to ensure farmers become aware that they can change their reality, that small plots are worth investing in and that they have the ability to do it themselves.
- "Vision" building as a family creates a collective change in mind-set and need to succeed together.
- "Integration" of activities that create both short term and long term return, but also blend conservation with small scale commercial forestry.
- Focus on continued "agricultural productivity", unlike some programs that have required farmers to convert nearly all arable land to commercial forestry, we are conscious of the impact of this on food security. We limit the number of commercial trees per household to ensure their s land left to produce food and we plant indigenous species around the gardens again leaving adequate space for food production.

Idea Proposal Stage (choose one)

  • Pilot: I have started to implement the idea as a whole with a first set of real users.

Tell us more about your organization/company (1 sentence and website URL)

Tree Adoption Uganda (TAU) is a youth-centric NGO powered by the vision of creating communities where people and nature flourish. Through landscape restoration activities like planting trees and agroforestry we build resilience for small holder farmers against the changing climate while economically empowering unemployed young people in Uganda's rural communities.
Website:
http://www.treeadoptionuganda.org/

Expertise in sector

  • 3-5 years

Organization Filing Status

  • Yes, we are a registered non-profit.

In 3-4 sentences, tell us the inspiration or story that encouraged you to start this project.

I was born in Kamwokya; one of the most impoverished slums in Uganda. I grew up in an environment characterized by lack of opportunity, poverty, crime, drugs and poor health service delivery. Many of my peers got taken up by drugs and failed to fulfill their potential. This early experience inculcated in me a spirit of social responsibility and an insatiable desire to give back to my community.

Please explain how your selected topic areas are influenced, in the local context of your project (1,000 characters).

Prosperity is influenced by lack of start-up capital. Although Ugandan youth are globally acclaimed to be enterprising and have shown ability to set up small scale businesses that drive economic growth in our communities, access to capital is still a key impediment. Our TreeCapital program envisions that a young person of 15 - 18 who sets up a tree farm with support of his/her household and TAU would have access to at least USD 5,000 by the time he/she is 20 -23 years after harvest of these trees.

The planet on the other hand is influenced by population pressure. Mpigi, the community where we work, is one of the most highly populated areas in Uganda (352 people /km2), with the majority of the people (over 90%) deriving their livelihood from agriculture. This high population density exerts tremendous pressure on the land, often resulting in encroachment on fragile areas. Alarmingly, Mpigi has lost over 6,800 Ha since 2004. Our SLM efforts are key in restoring this lost diversity.

Who will work alongside your organization in the project idea? (1,000 characters)

Local community leaders: We work with local leaders to help us identify our beneficiaries and invite participants to our community meetings, this is crucial for buy-in and community ownership of this work.

EcoMatcher Ltd: EcoMatcher is our corporate partner that has developed the "TreeCorder" app, manages the data we collect and carries out global marketing of corporate gifting of our "Green Certificates" (trees) from which we generate revenue. Each of our trees is adopted at USD 1.1

National Forestry Authority (NFA): The NFA provides technical input and provides us with various tree species from the National nurseries especially the indigenous saplings that we do not have potential yet to grow in our own nurseries.

Global Landscapes Forum (GLF): The GLF provides us with opportunity to share our work with the world and work with other youth. They have so far invited us to these global engagements in Bonn (2017), Washington DC (2018) and later in October in Nairobi.

Please share some of the top strengths identified in the community which your project will serve (500 characters)

Location: Our community is situated around the Lake Victoria basin, this ensures 2 rainy seasons a year and fertile soils that contribute to the growth of the trees planted and thus the potential to harvest them for economic return.

Land ownership: Majority of the households in our community individually own land, this is crucial given the long term nature of the landscape restoration investments.

Geographic Focus

This work is currently in Moigi District, Uganda.

How many months are required for the project idea? (500 characters)

36 months.

Did you submit this idea to our 2017 BridgeBuilder Challenge? (Y/N)

  • Yes

If Yes, how has project idea changed, grown, or evolved since last year? (2,000 characters)

We have worked extensively on refining our model and building a financial sustainability plan that can ensure continuation of the project even after initial seed funding.

1. The model: Our approach currently combines the use of local indigenous tree species such as Maesopsis, Albizia, Mahogany in an agroforestry approach that allows effective use of land to continue agricultural output at the same time as long term forest cover restoration. Secondly, it also focuses on the use of fast growing commercial tree species such as eucalyptus trees that ensure short term forest cover restoration and an economic return for participation families.

2. Economic returns: Tree planted are mapped and used to generate short term revenue (imperative to day to day operations) through corporate gifting and small scale commercial forestry agreements are signed with individual households that will generate mid to long-term revenue that will ensure financial sustainability of the project and scaling.

3. Technology + Mapping: Tree mapping is enabling us to collect data that can objectively build investor confidence that is usually rare for Land Restoration activities. This data will be a source of revenue but most importantly will be imperative to securing addition investment that will enable us scale this world across the country and region.

This inspired (1)

Energy and Environment

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Photo of Kanika Verma
Team

Q-You mention 300-600 trees, do you expect many Ugandan families having that land to spare?
Q-How long till Harvest?

Photo of Batte Charles
Team

Thank you Kanika,

1. We do not expect families to set aside large pieces of land: We creatively use the land owned by the family. If they can spare this - great. If they can not we plant trees all around their compounds, gardens, kraal where they graze their animals to create a ring fence around but at the same time leave them with enough space to carry out other activities.

2. Harvest happen from 5 years after planting depending on the tree species planted, however the families do not have to wait till then to earn from the trees planted. Through the corporate gifting they earn annually based on number of trees surviving and we are looking into carbon trade mechanisms as well to generate more revenue and allow families to earn more from the growing trees

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