Rich Forests promotes a sustainable and future-proof production system and supports, among other things, the transformation of degraded land into food forests. With this, people provide for their livelihood, increase their income and at the same time restore soil and biodiversity.
Forests are crucial to the livelihoods of 1.2 billion people in developing countries, to pick fruits, nuts and berries, harvest honey and resin, gather herbs used as medicine, find construction materials for their houses and collect firewood. Unfortunately, Large tracks of forest land have disappeared in the last 20 to 30 years, causing millions of people to lose their essential resources and means of living. Intensive (livestock) farming and the relentless need for new agricultural land are the main drivers for deforestation, causing fertile soil to erode, clean rivers to be polluted with pesticides and making the consequences of climate change tangible for everyone.
Restoring degraded areas and protecting what is still there
But what if degraded land could be restored to its original state, or even better, to 'rich forests', not only providing a good habitat for plants and animals, but also enabling local people to create sustainable livelihoods through the use and sale of forest products? Since the 1980s, our partners around the world have shown that this is feasible. They created food forests, in which crops that do well in the climate and circumstances of that particular area, such as bananas, papayas, coffee beans, tea leaves, herbs, spices and rattan are cultivated in between te trees, yielding products that can be sold. In addition, our partners have been working for decades to protect existing forests so that they can be used by local communities to sustainably harvest non-timber forest products such as nuts, berries and honey.
Both ENDS and Rich Forests
The 'Rich Forests' initiative is an alliance of Both ENDS and two international networks of organisations that have been successful in transforming degraded lands into productive food forests (Analog Forestry) as well as in sustainably cultivating and harvesting non timber forest products (NTFPs). Rich Forests' objective is to help local producers improve the production and marketing of forest products and to link them to social entrepreneurs and investors. At the same time, Rich Forests provides services to agro-industrial companies so that forest degradation as a consequence of their production chains is restored sustainably and with clear benefits for society.
Pilot sites and research
To ensure that food forests are productive and financially viable – also in the very long term –Rich Forests focuses on a number of important aspects. We establish pilot sites in various climatological circumstances, to see which crops grow best in which locations, in the best combinations and with the best yield. The findings are recorded and supplemented with data on possible improvements in soil conditions, water levels and biodiversity that we gather together with scientific institutes.
Because food and other products from forests are explicitly intended, besides for own use, to be sold to increase incomes, Rich Forests and our partners work together to explore ways to market them locally, nationally and even internationally.
A final important aspect of our work is influencing local and national policy, especially in the areas of property and land-use rights. In many countries, these rights are not enshrined in law, so that small farmers and communities can be driven from their land at any time. That uncertainty discourages them from investing in long-term projects, like food forests. By showing that Analog Forestry works on a small scale, we are persuading policy-makers of the potential of existing and restored forests as sources of food and income, for regulating air and water quality, and as buffers against climate change, so that they will make this form of agriculture a regular component of future policy.
Read more about this subject
Both ENDS works with partners around the world to ensure that land is governed fairly and inclusively and managed sustainably with priority for the rights and interests of local communities.
In various countries in the Sahel, vast tracts of land have been restored by the local population by nurturing what spontaneously springs from the soil and protecting the sprouts from cattle and hazards.
Globally, the area that is suffering desertification and land degradation is ever expanding. Unsustainable and often large-scale agricultural practices, including the copious use of pesticides and fertilisers, are a major driver of land degradation, aprocess that is further exacerbated by climate change, causing more erratic rainfall patterns, longer periods of drought and unpredictable growing seasons. This is very problematic not only for the hundreds of millions of people who directly depend on land and water for their livelihoods, but also for life on earth as a whole. It is clear that this process must be stopped and reversed, better sooner than later. But how to go about it?
With our Wetlands without Borders program, we work towards environmentally sustainable and socially responsible governance of the wetlands system of the La Plata Basin in South America.
News / 15 October 2018
Last September, approximately 30 women and men from community based organizations of Honduras and El Salvador learned the tool of analog forestry which uses natural forests as guides to create ecologically stable and socio-economically productive landscapes.
News / 30 June 2017
In 2005, a palm oil company approached the villagers of Kiungkang in West-Kalimantan, Indonesia, with offers to convert their farms to oil palm smallholdings. Many farmers agreed to the proposal because of the high monthly incomes promised by the company that they could earn from the oil palms. Unfortunately, the palm oil dream turned out to be an illusion.
Video / 3 May 2017
This short video is an introduction to 'Rich Forests, a Dutch initiative aiming to promote food forests or 'analog forestry' all over the world, together with working together with local partner organisations.
Video / 11 November 2016
Rich Forests' is an initiative that promotes the restoration of degraded and eroded areas in the whole world into sustainable, productive ecosystems, using the so-called Analog Forestry method. One of the many advantages of this method is that it can help to combat climate change. This video paints a picture of how this works, who is involved and what results are to be expected in the short and in the long run.
Publication / 30 June 2016
Publication / 22 December 2015
Video / 21 December 2015