Taking a step into the forests!

C Level joined a week long field mission into Nicaragua this November to see the impact of our projects first hand. We were visiting CommuniTree, a project that we have supported since it began in 2010, and a global model for large scale indigenous reforestation.

The project is a big collaboration between CommuniTree stakeholders, including C Level and our clients who are Carbon Balancing with this project, Taking Root the project developer, Aprodein the local project implementation team and the communities of small holder farmers, across the 9 regions of Nicaragua, where the project now operates.

We had already high expectations of the input the project is having, but what we saw and experienced on the ground went beyond expectations. We met up with farmers at different stages in their CommuniTree journey, gathering seeds and creating tree nurseries, planting saplings, establishing a non vulnerable plantation and moving this into a stable established phase and finally the ‘free to grow’ stage where the new forest plots become viable and sustainable for each farmer family. It’s a lot of work. Farmers face challenges that the trees and life throw at them over the years it takes to move through these stages, but the majority make it and massively value the opportunity the project provides.

They are supported financially through the first ten years with staged payments and as they move towards the end of project funding, the project is creating value from the sustainable harvesting or off take that is possible from the forests. This can be fuel wood from pruning or timber from thinning out of larger trees. It also includes harvests of high value wood, like mahogany, which is being turned into beautiful wood products at the Aprodein Production Centre. The enthusiasm from the farmers was palpable as we talked with them or walked their land. They all valued the forests in their own right, as places on their land where life was again healthy and flourishing. This is important in a country that is experiencing very high rates of deforestation (2.5 % each year) and is home to the second largest rainforest in the western hemisphere after the Amazon (The Bosawas Rainforest).

CommuniTree Project, Nicaragua – Daren and Bayardo looking at Mahogany seeds on land he planted with mixed native species in 2017

CommuniTree is now clearly about scaling up. It is not just about planting trees, you also have to grow them. It’s not just about growing trees, but growing forests.

And…you can’t grow forests if you don’t grow people and build capacity. The project teams we spent time with and worked with on this trip are dynamic. They are building capability to scale and to be a model for others to follow. 

To see first hand how CommuniTree has grown has been inspirational. From 22 farmers in 2010 to 3,300 in 2023. From 40 hectares to 11,000 hectares. It has grown into a project collecting 30 million native tree seeds and planting millions of trees across some 4,000 hectares each year. All of this has been made possible by the organisations who have chosen CommuniTree to take action on climate with nature and people. There are thousands of people across Nicaragua who fully appreciate this positive collaboration. We met some of them.

Learn more bout the project here.  

Exploring a reforestation parcel at the CommuniTree project in Nicaragua.
CommuniTree Project, Nicaragua – Established Silvopastoral Parcel where trees are grown within grazing land