MyForest Community Forests Foundation

Theme: mapping opportunities for sharing the costs of maintaining ecosystem services (internalising external costs)

Good practice general information

Title of the practice

Community supported afforestation

Organisation in charge of the good practice

MyForest Community Forests Foundation

Description

Short summary of the practice

Forests are essential for life on earth. Forests provide habitat for a vast array of plants and animals, many of which are still undiscovered. They protect our watersheds. They supply the oxygen we need to survive and provide the timber for products we use every day. Forests are so much more than a collection of trees and are home to 80% of the world’s terrestrial biodiversity. (https://www.worldwildlife.org/habitats/forest-habitat)

 

The number of forests on the planet ideally should be doubled as one of the main reasons for global warming is that two-thirds of the forests have disappeared since the industrial revolution. The remaining one third can no longer bind the amount of CO2 emitted by human activities, leading to increasingly extreme sign of global climate change. As forest density increases all over Europe, there are significant improvements in this area, however more actions should be taken to tackle this issue.

 

The MyForest community forests initiative established a platform to organize environmentally conscious businesses, individuals in creating new forests thus contributing to recovering biodiversity losses and mitigating climate change impacts, while offering an experience of charity to the donors.
 

MyForest acts as a connecting platform bringing together
 – ordinary citizens who are concerned about the climate and intend to contribute to the common goal by planting trees; 
– businesses seeking to participate in planting forests; 
– landowners who contribute to the project by offering their lands; i. e. by providing their lands for afforestation; and
– businesses that want to plant trees for their customers or bind their purchases for tree planting.

 

There are many ways to join the project:

·         As a business – purchases and orders can be tied to planting a tree or team-building events can be organized to have a company tree or forest, otherwise a business can just decide to help planting and managing forest,

·         As an individual – the planting and nurturing of trees can be financed directly, thus, becoming a donor. Also anyone can join the team as a volunteer participating in planting and other activities,

·         As a land owner – land can be offered for afforestation (currently only free offers are accepted, but the team is working on the legal ways to lease land),

·         As a student – trees can be planted and the class of students can participate as a donor, and help in planting the trees as an educational activity.

Those who are interested in afforestation can buy any number of saplings, just like in a Web Shop. As soon as there are enough donations to fully afforest a specific area (usually at least one hectares), the plantation commences involving volunteers and donors. The forest area managed up to 10 years if necessary and, as it is usual, are protected by a fence. Donors are displayed on the website of the MyForest Foundation and they also receive a logo to use it in their communication materials.

The donors that are directly or indirectly paid for the renewal or restoration of a specific ecosystem service can gain knowledge about forests and a sense of charity, and an increased attachment to forests, especially those who participate in the planting of trees. The price for donors is modest (590 HUF/sapling) making it open to everyone who is willing to participate in the scheme. The forests will not be cut down or clear-felled, therefore, the impact of the initiative can be long lasting.

Category of the good practice

Biodiversity

Resources needed

The cost of trees was calculated considering the factors listed below:

·         cost of the land (purchasing/leasing the land);

·         land works: clearing the land from overgrown bush, ploughing;

·         temporary fencing (to protect the land and the saplings);

·         cost of the saplings, transportation and planting;

·         everyone works as a volunteer in the foundation, however, the contributions should cover the operating costs of the organisation.

 

The amount needed to plant one tree: 590 HUF (1,6 €).

In addition, every forest has its maintenance cost for the first 10 years (cutting twigs, picking dying seedlings, pest control, replenishment of trees) included in the price.

Timescale (start/end date)

The project was started in 2019, and is ongoing.

Strategic relevance (long term impact)

Recently, the MyForest team is in the middle of an organic expansion. They are building a national network leaning on local communities, where local volunteers can visit local land owners and also engage local individuals and businesses. The think globally act locally attitude is crucial in tree planting as well, just like in dealing with climate change.

The key objectives of the New EU Forest Strategy are: effective afforestation, forest preservation and restoration in the EU, so as to increase the potential of forests to absorb and store CO2, promote the bio-economy and reduce the impact, and the extent of fires, while protecting biodiversity.

Evidence of success (results achieved)

 

The degree of afforestation and the number of new forests is growing, even further plantings are already funded, future locations are already selected and launched due to the high demand from donors.

Tangibility

In 2019-2020, 75.226 trees were planted resulting in 3 new forests (3,55 hectares in total) owing to more than 1500 individual and 150 company, and organizational contributions.

Durability

Permanent forests are established on the lands offered, which means that trees there are not supposed to be felled. The trees are a property of “no one” and the official communication is that the only owner of these woods is the planet Earth, with all the living creatures on it; a message that also increases visibility of the initiative.

 

These forests are taken care for 10 years. After this period their future will be in the landowner’s hands according to the contract with MyForest. They have contractual obligation to selection cutting. The planted species are oak, mixed broad-leaved trees and wild fruit trees, which means that their longevity varies between 20-100 years.

Visibility

Every supporter’s name is indicated on the webpage. The number of the supported trees is also marked together with the species, and the place and time of planting.

Donors are encouraged to be a part of the planting and also welcome to visit any forest with family and friends, spend time there, organize programs etc. On MyForest web- and Facebook pages followers can see news about the forests.

Added Value

The webpage and donations are easy to reach, and the overall scheme is transparent, it has clear advantages for nature and donors as well. Being able to track the locations, the number of saplings, as well as participate in the planting events increases commitment as well.

Effectiveness

It is very easy to become a part of this project by purchasing a package that’s suitable for the wallet/company budget and, therefore, the donor can take responsibility for the Earth, reduce his or her carbon footprint.

Every target group can find their suitable options for being part in afforestation without organising planting or not knowing where to start. A professional team is taking care of every aspect.

Innovation

There are only a handful of projects and initiatives in the country to support reforestation, especially involving several target groups (individuals, businesses, schools/students). In this regard, being easy to access and offering a way for companies, schools, and individuals to donate and help forests, and reforestation is certainly a market gap – if it can be considered as a market – in eco-conscious charity.

Efficiency

The top-down approach of the selection and management of the activities contributes to the coordinated and efficient nature of operation without spreading thin resources. Volunteers help planting the trees, but the price per sapling is defined to cover the costs of land rental, saplings, necessary earthworks before and after planting, green works and protection of the area.

Externality

The MyForest initiative plans to move to new countries and involve new local forests and communities. The MyForest initiative has already been launched in Romania.  In the future, the project will rely on local initiatives coordinated by local groups, which can be considered as spin-off projects.

Intra-regional coordination

Local communities are being established to assist in finding new partners, land owners and donors, who are willing to join this reforestation initiative.

Extra regional impact

The MyForest initiative has already been launched in Romania and they are actively looking for new partners in other countries as well.

It is easy to implement a similar project anywhere, because it requires only a small amount of resources and there are active organizations in other countries as well, who are willing to take actions for restoring biodiversity through afforestation.

Quality

The advantages of being part of this project are well communicated, the operation is transparent, the webpage is easily accessible, the donation/purchase is simple as in a Web Shop and the names of donors are publicly available.

Operating in such legal form, MyForest Foundation has to publish yearly accounts, which describe incomes and expenses of the organization.

Potential for learning or transfer (1000 char)

The MyForest initiative can be deployed easily in other countries, as willing participants and environmentally conscious individuals are easy to find. Project management, efficient approach and transparency, good communication are key elements that should be addressed by those who would like to adopt such approach. Due to the top-down nature of the project, even government agencies, regional or municipal governments can initiate similar projects. Focusing on several target groups at once also contributes to reaching a critical mass, where the results are clearly visible from a numerous perspective as well.

Further information

https://www.myforest.hu