Regrow Borneo: Challenges and lessons from a new tropical reforestation project
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Planting trees is increasingly seen as an important response to the climate and ecological emergency. Despite high profile policy statements and ambitious tree planting projects, net global deforestation is still increasing. Ethical reforestation projects are essential to reverse this trend; but these navigate a complex world of trade offs and synergies particularly with respect to donor expectations and the financial, ecological, and social realities of local reforestation.
In November 2019, a group of academics based in Cardiff University’s Sustainable Places Research Institute and Danau Girang Field Centre launched a forest restoration project called Regrow Borneo. The purpose of the project was to support the mitigation of University carbon emissions by being ethical, transparent and research-led.
A little over a year since our launch date, we exceeded both our fundraising and tree-planting goals, yet COVID-19, flooding and other extreme events have added considerable challenges to the project. We will summarise the successes, challenges, and lessons from the first year. Crucially, we will explore how a clear understanding of the goals, who decided these goals, and their costs is essential to implementing ethical reforestation practices.