Our founder, Richard St Barbe Baker, once said “today there is an even greater need for trees in the world, it’s a question of planting trees for survival”. Generations ahead of his time, St Barbe understood the importance of establishing strong relationships with local communities around the world in order to sustain life on earth.
Every ITF programme is delivered through partnerships. This approach has several advantages, such as creating positive synergies and complementing different skills and institutional roles, areas of influence and missions. Ultimately, what ITF values in a partner is the capacity to involve the communities in all aspects of programme design, delivery, evaluation and objectives. Communities groups are at the centre of all ITF tree planting and forest restoration work.
We currently partner with 36 institutions (from community-based groups to well established NGOs) across our different programmes operating in nine African countries and the United Kingdom. The country with the most active partnerships is Kenya, where we are collaborating with twelve partners under the umbrella and goal of the Watu Wa Miti Centenary Campaign. Seven of these partners receive funding from the Campaign itself, and four are financed in the Sustainable Community Forestry Programme (thanks to the Prince of Wales Charitable Fund). And with a new partner in the arid north of the country, we will start operating and receiving funding under the Africa Drylands Programme. Every tree planted in Kenya contributes to the Centenary Campaign Goal of 20 million trees planted in Kenya.
Promising projects and inspiring partners
Our largest programme in terms of area and number of communities involved is the Mount Bamboutos Initiative in Cameroon. This complex, long-term, programme aims to transform the whole region’s natural resources management and governance. It is with thanks to the UK’s government’s Darwin Initiative and to TreeSisters that this programme has been possible. Our partner in Cameroon is The Environment and Rural Development Foundation (ERuDeF), who are in charge of coordinating all the efforts on the ground, together with local communities, traditional authorities such as local Chiefdoms, and government agencies. The aim of this effort is to create a joint governance structure to ensure recovery of this biodiversity hotspot, while providing sustainable livelihoods for local communities.
As we move forward, we’re strengthening the evidence base for the impact of community led forest restoration based on long-term partnerships. This way, alongside our partners, we can fulfil our mission.