The Trees4All initiative is approaching its second anniversary with 12,200 trees planted. In partnership with 99 dedicated farmers, our mission toward sustainable agricultural practices and rejuvenated watershed forests is more urgent than ever. By the end of 2024, we aim to meet our fundraising target of 2.2 million baht.
Talk of the Forest
Tree planting efforts face challenges such as trees dying due to lack of care, unmeasurable success, and transparency issues. Trees4All has been working to change this, ensuring transparency and sustainable impact, and boosting confidence among supporters. Donations from sponsors have surged – from just over 400,000 baht in the rainy season of 2022 to over 1.5 million baht in January 2024. So far, the farmers in Santisuk District, Nan Province have been able to plant 8,000 new trees in addition to the 4,200 trees planted in 2022.
These trees have an impressive survival rate of 94.30 percent. This success rate underscores a major shift – from traditional corporate social responsibility (CSR) driven tree planting, which often culminates in a photo opportunity with no follow-up, to a model where farmers actively nurture the trees they plant and provide updates to donors. Now in the final stages of collecting data on the growth and survival rates of trees planted in the previous year, we anticipate reporting these findings by the end of February 2024.
Planting, nurturing and driving change
Farmer Athiwatt Sutham underscores the importance of making farmers more confident in tree planting especially for those doing monoculture farming for financial considerations. “Farmers are experts at planting and nurturing trees,” he says. “The real challenge lies in convincing ourselves and others that these efforts will yield benefits for us and society as a whole. Traditional tree-planting activities, unfortunately, have not been successful in instilling this confidence or stimulating significant change.”
Trees4All has innovated a financial mechanism that bridges the gap between individuals or entities with capital and farmers who have the land and skills to plant and care for trees. The system on trees4allthailand.org, launched in March 2023, provides several key features that are essential for promoting change in tree planting and conservation efforts. These features include the ability to track the location of trees, monitor their growth, and report on the outcomes of planting efforts.
Suwan Tangmitcharoen, an expert on forest plantation promotion from the Royal Forest Department, notes that Trees4All sets itself apart from other tree planting initiatives by measuring success not only by tree cover but also by the number of surviving trees per rai(an area equal to 1,600 square meters). This metric has led to more tangible and transparent outcomes and deeply involved farmers in the process – from planting to monitoring, and ultimately benefiting from the trees.
Engaging with individuals and businesses for change
The system enables farmers to report outcomes to tree sponsors, offering assurance that donations are being used as intended, and stimulating public engagement while meeting the interests of the private sector.
Transparency increases farmers’ commitment to nurturing the saplings they plant to maturity. Evidence of success increases recognition of the importance of tree planting and financial support. This, in turn, strengthens farmers’ planting efforts.
Farmers and tree sponsors play a pivotal role, and RECOFTC and its partners are working to build a community committed to restoring nature. “This project is a testament to the power of collaboration,” says Sunit Shrestha, Managing Director of ChangeFusion, one of the project partners.
PuttawanSuphataranantis a tree sponsor. She is the corporate communications manager at Sea (Thailand), the company behind platforms like Shopee and Garena. Sharing her insights, she underscores that businesses have a responsibility as societal actors to prioritize sustainability. “Consumers highly value social and environmental responsibility,” she notes. “Trees4All’s trackability builds trust by highlighting tangible results, such as the number of trees planted and estimated potential carbon absorption. We hope our donations inspire our customers to support the project too.” As a measurable initiative that effectively addresses environmental challenges, Trees4All meets the private sector’s expectations.
“Trees4All approaches tree planting as not just a CSR activity,” he says. “They carefully select tree species, involving experts like farmers who are dedicated to their growth. The project website allows us to track the tree stewardship and progress, instilling confidence in the public, even if they lack the space to plant trees themselves.”
Donating as immediate action
Following Chanat’s call to action on the KongGreenGreen page, his community responded with enthusiasm. Some even posted their donation receipts. This system empowers everyone to become part of the pressing mission.
Puttawan emphasized the urgency of environmental stewardship. “It is imperative we shift the perception that environmental care is an occasional activity. It is an urgent priority. By supporting consistently, even in small ways, we can drive meaningful change. Trees4All makes tree planting more accessible and sustainable. A simple donation through Taejai.com translates into direct action, as farmers plant and care for the trees.”
The project’s financial mechanism is transforming lands once devastated by monoculture into diverse ecosystems. When saplings grow into trees, farmers gain multiple benefits, and the impact is already evident as farmers develop capacities to monitor tree growth.
The project’s support has made a huge difference to farmers’ lives as well. WararatWutti is 27 years old and is one of the 99 farmers currently engaged in the Trees4All project. That number stood at 33 in 2022.
"Since the first year of implementation, farmers have acquired valuable skills. This includes using tree growth measuring tools, global positioning system for location tracking, and the Trees4All smartphone app for data recording. Farmers who have been with the project since its inception have become district-level mentors who guide new farmers, and eighty percent of them actively employ tools and planning to enhance proficiency. The vision is for each sub-district to form its data collection team, with the more tech-savvy younger generation assisting their elders."
Considering the global goal to limit the increase of temperature to below 2 degrees, RECOFTC Thailand Director WarangkanaRattanarat notes, "By donating to support farmers in planting and caring for trees, and by monitoring the outcomes of this urgent mission, we are all initiating change."
Toward sustainability: Beyond the three-year project period and carbon credits
To address previous concerns on transparency, RECOFTC has provided communities with tools to monitor and report on tree planting. We will continue to develop the community’s capabilities and prepare for a plan after RECOFTC’s three-year direct management. The community will then take the lead and tree sponsors will be able to see the progress through trees4allthailand.org.
Raising funds is a strategy that motivates farmers to transition from monoculture. However, the ultimate goal includes the long-term benefits that farmers, ecosystems and society at large will reap from trees. “Forest restoration isn’t about planting just any tree,” explains Wararat. “We choose to plant native species that can thrive here and align with our way of life. For instance, when Yang Na trees mature, we can cultivate mushrooms on them. The fallen leaves serve as fertilizer and generate additional income. Our trees are meant to last beyond the three-year project period, benefiting our children and grandchildren.”
Warangkana expresses long-term expectations saying, “If we can make this mechanism sustainable, managing plants could become a profession. We could establish a circular business, given that wood is renewable. Ultimately, forests could become production sources.”
Currently, the project is expanding farmers’ income-generating options while waiting for the trees to mature. Some farmers are preparing to experiment with beekeeping in their plantations. Looking to the future, Warangkana emphasizes the importance of working with local communities to ensure sustainability. “In Thailand, most land is connected to local communities. It’s essential to engage with them, to ensure they can live sustainably while contributing to forest restoration.”
Warangkana explained that the first three years are foundational, establishing trust with tree sponsors and farmers, and setting the stage for community-led initiatives in the future. The Trees4All Community-based Enterprise, established in 2023, promotes on-the-ground work.
SapitDiloksumpun, an assistant professor from Kasetsart University Faculty of Forestry co-designed Trees4All with a focus that extends beyond carbon credits. Aiming for ecosystem services while still tracking estimated potential carbon sequestration, Trees4All is a nature-based solution that also enhances community sustainability in economic, social and environmental terms.
Rawee Thaworn, RECOFTC Thailand research and capacity development coordinator advocates for biodiversity to be prioritized to enhance the ecosystem. A revived ecosystem will provide water, food and other resources, contributing to sustainability.
Since its inception, Trees4All has garnered significant support from over 1,600 sponsors, raising 1.5 million baht as of January 2024 towards the goal of 2.2 million baht. Donations are still being accepted through Taejai.com. The progress of the tree planting can be tracked at trees4allthailand.org.
This story/publication was produced through the Trees4All project. The project receives financial support from Global EbA Fund and Wyss Academy for Nature. Its content is the sole responsibility of RECOFTC and it does not necessarily reflect the views of Global EbA Fund and Wyss Academy for Nature.