5 landscape protection stories for International Forest Day

Today is International Day of Forests! To celebrate, we highlight five initiatives that showcase the power of landscape approaches in tackling commodity-driven deforestation.

Forests hold the key to halting runaway climate change and helping drive sustainable development.

And yet deforestation is on the rise. The production of commodities such as palm, beef, soy and cocoa, while providing many economic benefits, is a key driver.

Working across tropical forest landscapes, IDH forges innovative partnerships to build deforestation-free commodity supply chains.

We mobilize businesses, governments, farmers, NGOs and forest-dependent communities to develop and roll out forest protection and restoration models that go hand-in-hand with sustainable economic growth and social inclusion. This is our Production, Protection, Inclusion (PPI) approach.

And we help make these deforestation-free products available on the market.

Find out more below!

1. Brazil: Scaling up sustainable production through markets

The beef sector plays an important role in the economy of Mato Grosso state in Brazil, but it has also been linked to illegal deforestation. Intensifying cattle production sustainably is key to protecting this biodiversity hotspot while enabling economic development.

Through its support to the state-led Produce, Conserve and Include (PCI) strategy, IDH brings together leading cattle ranchers, meat processors and retailers, municipalities and civil society groups to sign and deliver on ambitious targets on forest protection, sustainable production and social inclusion.

Together with partners, we support farmers to intensify production, restore degraded pasture across various municipalities in Mato Grosso and protect forest. And we make sustainable beef available through the Verified Sourcing Area (VSA) approach, which links commodity producing regions to global markets by promoting cooperation through transparent supply chains.

To date, the multinational retailer Carrefour has co-invested €1.9 million to source responsible beef from the region, with other companies expected to follow suit.

2. Kenya: Changing business as usual to protect forests and improve livelihoods

The South West Mau forest block is critical for Kenya as a key water tower on which millions depend. Its microclimate creates ideal conditions for cultivating crops such as tea. In recent decades, more than 25% of the forest has been degraded, putting tea, other sectors, and community livelihoods at risk. Unsustainable livestock grazing is one of the drivers of this deforestation – and yet finding solutions has been challenging due to limited coordination among key players.

IDH built a strong coalition to work together to protect this landscape – the Initiative for Sustainable Landscapes (ISLA). Because of the coalition, companies have shifted to investing in sustainability projects that go beyond their own farms, seeing a clear business case for a landscape approach.

For instance, Unilever Tea Kenya and Finlays Tea Kenya have co-funded a project to help farmers increase milk production and boost their incomes without needing to graze their cows in the forest. Mr Bernard Limo, whose farm was selected for this pilot, talks about how the project has benefited him.

3. Liberia: Driving forest restoration through community-owned land use planning

Lofa County has been referred to as the “breadbasket” of Liberia, and its Foya District is known for producing quality cocoa and other crops. But expanding savannah grasslands are putting farming at risk by depleting soil fertility, fueling bush fires and hindering forest regrowth.

In response, IDH brings together local communities, government agencies, civil society and businesses to develop a joint land-use plan to curb the spreading grassland, regain tree cover and bring in economic development by engaging green investors. Our Free Prior Informed Consent (FPIC) approach ensures that communities are really at the heart of decision making.

As a result, we are now collaborating with an investor to begin converting grasslands into agroforestry. Together with farmer cooperatives, a cocoa investor is rolling out cocoa agroforestry with and in grassland-affected communities in this landscape.

4. Indonesia: Forest corridor a “win-win” for communities and orangutans

The West Kalimantan province is a major producer for palm oil, coconuts, timber and pulp and paper and therefore vital for the Indonesian economy. At the same time, the lush forests and peatlands of West Kalimantan are significant carbon stocks and host endemic species such as the Bornean orangutan. They urgently require protection.

Since 2016, IDH has been convening businesses, local communities, government agencies and civil society in West Kalimantan to develop a business model and land-use plan to protect High Value Conservation areas and wildlife corridors.

In one example, we have been working with the palm oil company Bumitama to conserve an ‘orangutan corridor’ that passes through their palm concession. The corridor is helping ensure orangutans and other wildlife can migrate between two crucial forest areas. The project also helps communities practise forest conservation and develop alternative livelihoods. Read more about this project here.

5. Côte d’Ivoire: Collaborating to end deforestation in cocoa-producing regions

Cocoa is crucial to Côte d’Ivoire. Its production accounts for 10% of the country’s GDP and 30% of revenue. Eight million smallholders live from its production. At the same time, it also puts pressure on the natural forest ecosystems. Since its independence, in 1960, Côte d’Ivoire has lost approximately 90% of its forest cover. In response, the government of Côte d’Ivoire has set a target to restore forest cover to 20% by 2030. IDH is helping to reach this goal through the Cocoa and Forests Initiative (CFI), an active commitment of cocoa-producing countries Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana and Colombia with leading chocolate and cocoa companies to end deforestation and restore forest areas.

Agroforestry, a land use management system in which trees or shrubs are grown among crops, is one solution being implemented through the CFI. The government of Côte d’Ivoire is developing sustainable agroforestry models, in consultation with all stakeholders, including cocoa companies. In CFI action plans, published in early March 2019, companies have pledged to support the establishment of 244,400 hectares of cocoa agroforestry, with 13 million multipurpose trees to be planted on or off cocoa farms.

Join us!

Help us raise awareness of the importance of landscape solutions in forest protection, sustainable economic development and social inclusion!

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