WithOneSeed Community Forest Programme

Simple Action | Many People | Big Impact - The Ho Musan Ida Model

WithOneSeed community forestry program, developed by xpand Foundation, is the first social enterprise acting on climate change through community lead forestry in Timor-Leste. It is dedicated to improving the resilience of subsistence communities to make environments sustainable, to end poverty and hunger, to deliver open education and to create regional partnerships.

It’s about climate justice and supports 10 of the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals.

Oxfam-WOS HQ from WithOneSeed on Vimeo.

Our long-term vision is to develop social enterprise models that can contribute to building village-based economies using environmental practices that are viable and support sustainable living. Putting an earned dollar in a person’s pocket empowers them to make decisions for their own future.  It is beyond charity and aid.

The program has four commitments to:

  1. make environments sustainable
  2. end poverty and hunger
  3. increase education and training
  4. build regional partnerships.

As highlighted in the most recent IPPC Report (Oct 2018) reforestation is a key response to global climate change. It provides a highly effective form of carbon capture and storage while reducing soil erosion and degradation and improving habitat and the water table. 

Our approach is simple in its theory and application. We’re planting trees and planting ideas. Our innovation comes from the annual incentive payments made to subsistence farmers who maintain the trees, paid from the sale of carbon credits into the international carbon market. If a subsistence farmer has to choose between planting a cash crop or planting trees that may take 20 years to provide a financial return, the choice is obvious. However, if we can make a cash crop from trees that sequester carbon, the equation is quite different.

The context for the WithOneSeed forestation program in Timor-Leste is both local and global.

Timor-Leste Context

Timor-Leste is a low-income subsistence-farming economy. It continues to suffer the after-effects of a decades-long independence struggle against Indonesia, which destroyed essential infrastructure and displaced thousands of civilians.

Agriculture dominates the Timorese economy, accounting for 25% of GDP and approximately 75% of employment. The average daily income is .80 cents. Insufficient food production has led to a dependency on imports of rice and other commodities. Poverty is widespread in rural areas and health and education levels are poor.

Forty-one per cent of the Timor-Leste population lives below the poverty line, average annual family income is no more than a couple of hundred dollars, more than half the population is unable to read or write and 70% of children do not reach primary school grade six.

In 1975 about half the land in Timor-Leste was primary and secondary forest. By 1989 areas of forest dropped to about 40% and by 1999 less than 10% remained. In 2018, the forests continue to decline at nearly 2% a year.

Of critical importance to the people of Timor-Leste is the implementation of strategies to restore landscapes to a sustainable position, maintain them on an ongoing basis and achieve a range of environmental, social and economic outcomes, particularly food security, improved water supply and creation of employment and economic opportunity.

One of the key goals is to achieve change in the way that the community uses the natural environment.

Developing the economic security of rural populations is essential to ensure progress in developing countries. One of the most damaging consequences of poverty in rural communities is the flight of people into the cities with the resultant problems of homelessness, unemployment, overpopulation and the collapse of social order.

One of the greatest contributions that can be made to the economic and social health of a developing country is to help keep families on the land, housed, employed, earning an increasing income and able to provide for their children’s working and educational future.

Family employment also ensures the employment of women and maintains their important roles in society and in education.

An outcome of special significance to disadvantaged rural communities will be the improved formal educational opportunities for children, facilitated by increasing and secure family income.

Global Context

A recent World Bank report shows that where forest cover loss is greater, poverty rates are also greater. (Timor-Leste Systemic Diagnostic: Pathways for a New Economy and Sustainable Livelihoods – World Bank 2018)

The recent IPCC report (Oct 2018) is clearly stating that afforestation and reforestation are one of the key short-term actions required to reduce carbon from the atmosphere.  The report goes on to say that forests can contribute up-to a 30% reduction in carbon emissions.

Programs such as the WithOneSeed community forestry can deliver a reduction in poverty and reduce the global environmental damage by reforestation and the building of carbon sinks.

WithOneSeed’s objectives are both local and global.  Globally deforestation is causing both poverty and environmental degradation and as the world is heading for more than 2 degrees warming before 2050 the situation is going to get much worse.  Subsistence economies are particularly at risk.  The World Bank and IPCC reports mentioned above provide the motivation for the establishment of WithOneSeed in Timor-Leste.

WithOneSeed is based on an annual tree-planting program, through a self-managed farmer cooperative. Small holder subsistence farmers receive an annual incentive payment for planting, managing and maintaining forest trees on their land. This facilitates the building of village economies. To put an ‘earned’ dollar is someone’s pocket give them the power to determine their own future. 

WithOneSeed is the first internationally certified community farming program under the Gold Standard A/R standard in Timor-Leste and the Asia Pacific region.

The WithOneSeed program has embraced the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UNSDG) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all.

WithOneSeed particularly helps realise the UN SDGs by helping to:

  • end poverty and hunger and promote sustainable farming and lifelong learning
  • promote decent work, sustainable agricultural communities and economic growth
  • act to combat climate change, manage forests and reverse land degradation
  • encourage global partnerships for sustainable development through regional relationships 
  • empower women and children, and particularly girls, by increasing family income, facilitating children’s education and creating family job prospects. 

Furthermore, WithOneSeed also embraces the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in strongly committing to the right to:

  • life, liberty and security of person
  • work, to free choice of employment
  • an adequate standard of living 
  • education
  • full and free personal development available through community participation.

Project Impacts and benefits:

WithOneSeed community forestry started in Baguia, Timor-Leste in 2010. The program achievements to date are: 

  • 850+ farmers engaged in community forestry
  • 152,000+ trees under management
  • 50,000+ tCO2e removed from the global atmosphere
  • More than 15,000 carbon credits sold internationally to companies driving toward carbon neutrality
  • Nearly US$300,000 paid into the Baguia village economy since 2010
  • Over 5% of Baguia farmers directly involved in planting and managing trees flowing on to just under 30% of the population benefitting financially from WithOneSeed
  • 15 permanent full-time jobs and 15 casual jobs created
  • Baguia Farmer Finance Cooperative established
  • WithOneSeed achieving the internationally certified carbon forestry program under the Gold Standard Foundation
  • Internationally recognised Master Tree Growers agroforestry training program established in Baguia
  • The establishment of the Baguia Agroforestry and horticulture centre in 2019 
  • MOU with the Government of the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste and WithOneSeed
  • 10 of the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals being addressed by WithOneSeed.
  • WithOneSeed community forestry program expansion into three other Municipalities of Timor-Leste in 2019
  • Establish a Timor Carbon Foundation in 2019 to manage expansion across Timor-Leste to be managed and directed by Timorese for Timorese.

For more information, please visit: www.withoneseed.org.au

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