Why monitor and account for trees planted?

Figure 1: Connie lays mulch on Maesopsis eminii tree (Source: FFP)

Trees represent a symbol of resilience, life and renewal to many. Tree planting is used by corporations, politicians, and NGO’s alike as their engagement towards improving the environment. Over the years, a growing number of initiatives at diverse spatial scale propose to plant millions, billions or even trillions of trees as a simple solution to resolve complex environmental challenges such as climate change. Some of the ambitious tree planting commitments include the Bonn challenge initiative on restoring 350 million hectares to halt and rvrse the effects of land degradation and the One Trillion Trees initiatives that was launched at the 2020 world economic forum in Davos. At the local scale, similar work is being done. Notably, the Flight Free Projects team has planted 1700 trees since September 2021 on Smallholder’s land in Uganda.

Monitoring and accountability are   key components for the success of the proposed ambitious efforts to increase tree cover worldwide. The major three reasons for monitoring and accountability for tree planting projects are to improve the management of forests and ensure value for money. It also helps managers better define, detect and predict the health of trees. It tells one whether numbers are rising or falling and depicting changes in species composition, age structure and biomass. Furthermore, monitoring increases public involvement in environmental stewardship because through monitoring, the planters keep motivated.

Figure 2: FFP staff check a tree ravaged by a garden fire during the visit

It’s on such grounds that the Flight Free Projects team made a follow-up visit on the trees planted during the second season of 2021. For one farmer 330 of the 350 trees planted survived and looked healthy. On the other hand, out of the 150 trees planted by another farmer in the same area, only 50 survived. He reported that he had to leave for farming in a faraway area, and could not come back to monitor the trees. Some were burnt by wildfires, while others stunted due to weed infestation. While monitoring by organization staff is crucial, it is key to ensure that farmers chosen to plant with commit time to monitoring and ensuring that trees grow well, to
ensure value for money and efficiency of restoration projects. Monitoring of planted forests is critical in tracking tree growth and ensuring that they are developing in a healthy way and in the expected time, as well as receiving the necessary water and nutrients.

In conclusion, monitoring and accounting of trees planted is important because we are able;

  • To assess the survival rate of the trees planted in the previous seasons.
  • Learn about challenges and get solutions for efficient implementation of future projects
  • To confirm that the right number of trees were planted on the planned areas.
  • To ensure that farmers are accountable for trees planted
  • To educate farmers and forestry officers on new nursery and planting techniques

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