Unique participatory approach
The International Small Group and Tree Planting Program (TIST) is a reforestation and sustainable development programme, started in Tanzania and quickly expanded to Uganda, Kenya and India as a result of the high interest. TIST programme is completely voluntary and anyone can sign up. Currently in Uganda there are 22 580 TIST participants in total from across 1641 villages which have planted more than 7 million trees. Farmers receive a payment per tree every year plus a 70% revenue share from the sale of the carbon credits these trees produce as a direct cash payment. Furthermore, each planted tree creates an additional value of $8 for the farmers. This includes fruits, nuts, fodder, traditional medicines, sustainable wood products and firewood (from dead trees and thinnings). This ensures that participants have multiple incentives to maintain the planted trees in the longer term.
TIST programme is open to everyone. Participants in the programme own the land and the trees. The programme enables non-landowners, most often women and youth, to participate by signing a carbon contract with the land owner, which allows planting trees and receiving 70% carbon credit revenue share and tree produce. This not only enables inclusion and equal opportunity for all regardless of gender or social status but also is crucial for alleviating poverty amongst the most vulnerable.
Participants are organised in Small Groups, where a rotating leadership model is applied, supporting gender equality and developing the capacities of each member. TIST generates employment of local staff who quantify the number of trees and monitor the growth progress.
Exceptional community benefits
The project has achieved Gold Level for exceptional community benefits under the CCB standard. The project fights poverty by providing participants income from carbon credits and sustainable development benefits estimated at over 3000 euros per person. TIST trains local farmers in building nurseries, fuel-efficient stoves and adopting the UN FAO conservation farming practices which in many cases result in double yield. Ensuring food security is especially important during periods of drought. Good health practices are reinforced at the Small Group meeting, where participants are trained in health topics including HIV/AIDS, malaria, clean water, hygiene and indoor air pollution.
By increasing knowledge on the benefits of different tree species, farmers choose to plant trees which deliver benefits beyond carbon. Planting fruit, nut and fodder trees provide financial and food security benefits. Species planted include Pinus Patula, Eucalyptus, Pine, Cyprus, Orange, Mango, Jackfruit, Anona, Papaya, Lime, Avocado, Guava, and Bitter apple. Eucalyptus is no longer being planted, as nowadays the project encourages planting native tree species. Planted trees stabilize soils and provide shade which enables smaller vegetation under the canopy, thus reducing soil degradation. TIST farmers are also trained in biodiversity benefits and the project areas provide wildlife corridors for high conservation value areas.
Mitigating carbon leakage
The project also mitigates deforestation outside the project area by training the farmers in maintaining a sustainable woodlot. Not only this decreases their expenses, but also it ensures that farmers will continue maintaining their woodlots beyond the project lifetime. For instance, planting three to four times more trees, than what is needed for reaching the carbon removal goals of the project allows for thinnings. Thinnings improve tree growth and together with dead trees provide sustainable supply of fuelwood and sale of stems for timber, reducing the pressure on forests outside the project area. Project monitoring ensures that dead trees and thinnings are accounted for and deducted from the carbon calculations.
Community reforestation in Uganda is one of the projects from which Compensate buys emissions reduction units. The project has been in Compensate’s project portfolio since September 2020.
Photo credit: TIST Uganda / Lynn Johnson, Ripple Effect Images
TIST Program contributes to all 17 of the SDGs. Farmers receive a payment per tree every year plus a 70% revenue share from the sale of the carbon credits these trees produce as a direct cash payment. Furthermore, each planted tree creates an additional value of $8 for the farmers. This includes fruits, nuts, fodder, traditional medicines, sustainable wood products and firewood from dead trees and thinnings.