Rich Forests

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.



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