From degraded cattle pasture land to topical forest. This project brings numerous environmental, social and economic benefits together. Vast areas of land are undergoing reforestation, with more than 7.5 million trees planted so far. Local indigenous communities are supported by the project economically, through the carbon credits and by using part of the land for agroforestry to grow cocoa and high quality timber. And 15 endangered species on the Red List now have a place to live again and thrive.
🌱 7.5+ million trees have been planted so far
🦥 15 endangered species on the Red List have their home back
👷♀️ 150 jobs created from agroforestry
📚 Community education and learning about biodiversity and plants
👨👧👦 Financial support for a local schools
Throughout different parts of Panama in the Darien and Veraguas provinces are areas of land that were once degraded land. These areas were used to raise and graze cattle. The top soil quality had eroded from animal hoofs and commercial use of the land. These were originally forest lands, full of life, colour and different animal and insect species. And things needed to change.
Now, with the help of local communities and Forest Finance, the land is transforming back to it's original state of topical forest, teeming with plants and life. There have been more than 7.5 million native species of trees and other plants reintroduced to the land. The project began with tree planting and slowly introduced mixed forest cover to replicate the naturally biodiverse world of a tropical forest. The reforestation activities, helps to protect more than 50 native flora and tree species.
As the forests grow back over time over these vast amounts of land, it has an added positive effect of connecting already existing forests together to create a sort of animal highway—joining the forests that were once together. Fauna such as the brown-throated sloth and anteater live among these trees, among other endangered and vulnerable animal species.
In order to support the local communities in these regions, a plan needed to be devised to provide economic benefits to the people of the area to be able to continue the reforestation efforts, manage the forests and preserve the growing tree population from being cut down again for the land or wood. As well, mutual learning and knowledge transfer between the communities and the project coordinators was just as vital to teach local cultural customs and show the importance of forests, trees and how to care for nature.
To help the local people economically, part of each offset goes to the nearby communities. As well, a part of the land is also designated for cultivating cocoa and growing trees for timber, using sustainable methodologies. Sustainable forest management and cocoa production offer employment opportunities, therefore improve the economic and social situation of rural communities and families.
This project has been one of the first to be successfully certified under the renowned Gold Standard for land use and forestry projects. The cocoa production areas have been the first agroforestry systems to be certified under the Gold Standard as well. In addition, the forest management received FSC certification (Forest Stewardship Council) and the cocoa production is UTZ certified.
All these activities combined help to protect the biodiversity and restore a healthy tropical forest ecosystem.