Trees with social impact
WithOneSeed is a forestation project in Timor-Leste growing stronger carbon sinks by supporting 980+ subsistence farmers to plant trees and reforest their lands. The land in the project area is degraded due to the traditional practice of slash and burn agriculture.
Thanks to the project and the farmers, over 215 934 trees have been planted between 2010 and 2021. Being the first internationally certified carbon farming program in Timor-Leste, the project is dedicated to improve the resilience of subsistence communities, to end poverty and hunger, to deliver climate education to the communities, and to create regional partnerships. The project supports 10 of the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.
Participation is voluntary and the project is open to everyone. Baguia comprises ten village communities all of whom are now involved in the project. The project is very popular among the local people, which is proved by the number of farmers participating. The number of participants has grew from 12, in 2010, to 980+ in 2021.
The total combined population of the 10 villages is almost 13 000. These communities have been actively involved in the development and expansion of the program over the past ten years. Each community has a key person acting as a coordinator who takes responsibility for organising tree farmers in his/her area.
WithOneSeed is organised by the nonprofit xPand Foundation, which pays participating farmers 50 cents per every tree they maintain. So far, the project has returned USD 500 000 into the local economy through tree payments, infrastructure, and employee wages, resulting in doubling the income of the farmers taking part in the project.
Participants represent about 5% of the population of Baguia and considering that on average families have 5 children, it is estimated that around 50% of the households are benefiting directly or indirectly.
The program has a strong vision of increasing employment for all sectors of society with a particular focus on marginalised youth with poor school education and difficulties in accessing the limited labour market. Particular effort has been made to ensure that benefits are allocated equitably throughout the communities involved. WithOneSeed has always been a proudly equal opportunity program where women and men have been able to participate equitably.
xPand Foundation actively engages with local farmers and the community to ensure there is strong engagement in order to minimise the risk that the project does not consider all of the communities in the sub‐district. There is also an MOU between the Government of Timor-Leste and the project developer which ensures the ownership of the trees and therefore the carbon rights.
Environmental education and training
The programme also counters soil erosion and soil degradation. Trees and forests help the nutrients stay in and return to the soils. The water tables are addressed and as result, communities get better crop yields, and can therefore with education get better produce and greater nutritional values.
Education is one of the four key commitments of the project proponent to the community of Baguia. Education activities focus on the benefits to the community of returning the forest of Baguia and moving away from the former practice of slash and burn. This includes education about food security and nutrition and using the new forest to restore the biodiversity. A part of the education program is also focused on school children as they will be the main beneficiaries for reforestation activities being undertaken by their parents and grandparents.
As part of the program, over 400 participating farmers have received Master Tree Grower training at the Agroforestry Training Centre. The main risks to the environment from reforestation activities relate to the planting of exotic or invasive species (i.e. inhibit natural regeneration or the growth of native species), or species that affect the water table. These risks have been avoided by selecting native species and non-invasive species e.g. mahogany and teak.
Photo credit: 1000words.org.au, WithOneSeed
WithOneSeed supports 10 out of the 17 SDGs. It is estimated that 50% of the households in Baguia are benefiting directly or indirectly.