Collecting the seeds

récolte de graines d'arbres diversifiées

Collecting the seeds of our 40 local tree species is the very first step of a reforestation campaign. It’s the job of the representatives of the 250 “seed families”: in each village, the women involved in the arboRise project collect the seeds of their seed tree. Each woman has a tree of a different species, to ensure the best possible biodiversity.

Each harvester then brings her 20,000 seeds to the village centre, where they are counted and paid for. This is also an opportunity for our partner GUIDRE to assess the quality of the seeds delivered.

Then all the seeds from the different seed trees are mixed together and divided into piles, which are then put into bags and given to the “field families” who will be responsible for sowing the seeds.

Do the math: collecting the seeds means 5,000,000 seeds ! Spread over 500 hectares, that’s 10,000 seeds per hectare, or one seed per square metre.

Creation of the arboRise Foundation

fondation arboRise foundation

The committee has implemented the transformation of the association arboRise into a foundation of public utility, following the decision of the General Assembly of 12 December 2022. The arboRise foundation pursues exactly the same goals as the association:

  • To fight global warming through reforestation [1] according to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals 13 and 15.
  • To experiment with natural reforestation methods that enhance biodiversity and share the results of these experiments [2]
  • Involve local populations in reforestation and enhance their forest heritage [3]
  • To raise awareness among the populations of high-income countries of the usefulness of reforestation as a means to fight global warming [4]

The foundation does not pursue any economic goal and does not aim to make a profit.

The foundation’s reforestation campaigns are implemented in the countries located in the south of West Africa (notably Guinea, Ivory Coast, Ghana, Togo, Benin) with the aim of creating a corridor of fauna and flora linking, through agroforests, the natural parks of these countries. The initial region, from which the reforested strip will be progressively extended, is constituted by the sub-prefectures of Linko, Damaro and Konsankoro in the Prefecture of Kerouane in the Republic of Guinea.

  1. [1] To maximize the reforested areas, the approach of the arboRise foundation is “low-tech” and “low-cost”.
  2. [2] The intention of the arboRise foundation is that other reforestation actors can reduce their costs per hectare and maximize the reforested area.
  3. [3] The biggest share of the revenue from carbon credits should benefit to local communities.   
  4. [4] Awareness-raising activities are subsidiary to the three previous goals and must not involve more than 5% of the foundation’s resources.

The tax authorities of the Canton of Vaud have validated the public utility of the arboRise foundation, which is thus exempt from corporate income tax. Donations to the foundation are tax exempt as well.

Being active abroad, the arboRise foundation is subject to the control of the Swiss Federal Supervisory Authority for Foundations. arboRise will in all likelihood have to deal with significant financial flows, so it is necessary to ensure that these resources are used wisely. The Federal Supervisory Authority for Foundations will check that its funds are used according to the statutory purposes (such a control would not have been mandatory for the association).

The arboRise foundation is now registered in the Commercial Register of the Canton of Vaud under the number CHE-210.113.196.

This legal framework provides increased security and stability for our partners and donors. This is essential, because in order to guarantee the sustainability of our reforestation activities, we are going to build lasting relationships with our future donors over several decades. We need stability to work in continuity.

The Counsil of the arboRise Foundation has a wide range of relevant skills to meet the statutory objectives:

  • Eric Bettens, Lausanne city councilor (les Vert.e.s) and member of the finance committee, will facilitate the work of the board as president of the foundation board
  • Mariame Camara, former vice-president of the association’s committee, originally from the Prefecture of Kérouané in Guinea, will bring her knowledge of Guinean society and the local context
  • Laurent Douek, former active member of the association’s committee, member of the board of the Swiss Philanthropy Foundation, will provide the board with his vast network and expertise in the field of foundation governance
  • Anne Giger Dray, specialist in sustainable management of renewable resources at the ETHZ, will provide the Board with insights from research projects (land use change, livelihoods, sustainability, governance and participatory management)
  • Alice de Benoît, city councilor of Lausanne (Green’liberals) and lawyer, will support the council in the legal field and promote transversal collaborations
  • John Pannell, Professor in Plant Evolution at UNIL, will contribute to the scientific robustness of the experiments conducted by arboRise.

The Foundation Board met on March 6, 2023 to define its operating mode.

As for Philippe Nicod, founder of arboRise, he will continue his benevolent commitment as director of the foundation until the foundation has sufficient resources to pay the person who will succeed him.

Dendrometry training

dendrométrie 4

Our partner South Pole provided technical expertise in dendrometry training for the GUIDRE team:

  • Random selection of measurement sites
    • Establishment of 25m x 25m plots to measure tree biomass:
    • Measurement of tree diameter at breast height
    • Measurement of height with clinometers
    • Calculation of biomass based on wood density of each species
    • Adaptation of the plot size to the slope of the land
  • Establishment of 3m x 3m plots to count the existing biomass of the shrub vegetation
  • Establishment of 1m x 1m plots to account for the existing biomass of herbaceous vegetation

dendrométrie 3 dendrométrie 1 dendrométrie 0

Three essential notions were addressed during these trainings:

Eligibility: a piece of land is only eligible for a carbon project when the forests have been cut down more than 10 years ago. A forest is an area of more than half a hectare with trees higher than 5 metres. Historical satellite images (Google Earth, Landsat, etc.) are used to verify eligibility. During our field visits we found that some areas that are deforested today appear as forest on some current satellite images, and vice versa. It is therefore important to choose the right satellite source and to learn how to interpret these images correctly, especially satellite images from 10 years ago. Our partner South Pole will carry out this analysis and then provide GUIDRE with eligibility maps. These will be used to immediately identify ineligible land (or land that will only be eligible in a few years’ time) when visiting landowners. When identifying new land, GUIDRE supervisors will also take care not to include parts of existing forests or armour-clad soils, on which vegetation is difficult to establish.

dendrométrie 7 dendrométrie 2

Baseline: The existing biomass on the land cannot be counted in the calculation of the carbon absorbed by the arboRise project (notion of additionality). This is why it is important to choose the fields with the least amount of trees, shrubs and grasses. It will also be necessary to classify the selected areas according to their vegetation cover in order to create statistical measurement strata. We will then proceed to measure the baseline, to calculate the volume of biomass to be subtracted from the project’s Emission Reductions.

dendrométrie 5 dendrométrie 6

Ex ante measurements: scientific studies on forest biomass growth are numerous in Asia and South America, but rare in West Africa. This makes it very difficult to estimate the carbon sequestration potential of a project like arboRise. To compensate for this lack of scientific references, we will identify areas that were set aside by the authorities several years ago and on which the trees have grown. Measuring the current biomass on these plots will make it possible to deduce the average annual growth of the biomass and therefore the carbon sequestration potential of the project. Here on a plot of land set aside 23 years ago, near the village of Deyla:

ex ante 1 ex ante 2

The three partners also visited 10 plots of land to be reforested in 2021 (for the record: 5,000 pellets of seed per hectare, sown without stacks). These visits led to the following observations:

  • The very strong natural regeneration complements the seedlings sown in 2021. The density of seedlings per hectare varies considerably depending on the nature of the soil and the fires. The three best sites have a density of 5000 stems per hectare, the three worst sites have a density of 500 stems per hectare.
  • The observed biomass densities are consistent with biomass measurements by infrared satellite imagery (NDVI). Satellite data can therefore be used to target field visits.
  • Plants sown in 2021 and spared by the fires reach an average height of 1.7m
  • Out of 12 plots visited, only 3 were affected by the fires. The growth of the trees is slowed down by one year when a plot has been affected by fire. On the three affected plots, the plants are about 80cm tall.

Local Stakeholder Consultation (3)

LSC MEDD photo de groupe

The stakeholder consultation continued in Conakry from 27 February to 1 March. ArboRise, GUIDRE and South Pole project managers were able to exchange with the environmental consultancy Biotope Guinée, the IUCN representative for Guinea and the head of CECI.

The most important meeting took place with Mrs. Safiatou Diallo, Minister of Environment and Sustainable Development of the Republic of Guinea, and the members of her cabinet: Mr. Karim Kourouma, Secretary General, Mr. Aly Traoré, Head of Cabinet, and Mr. Jean-Louis Pelletier. Aly Traoré, Head of Cabinet, Ms. Oumou Doumbouya and Ms. Adama Diabaté, Heads of the Climate Risk Mitigation Department, Mr. Mohamed Fofana, National Director of Water and Forests and Mr. Pierre Lamah, Guinea’s Designated National Authority for the Green Climate Fund. The MEDD consultation was essential to strengthen collaborative links with the national authorities of the Transitional Government. It had been prepared in advance with all the services concerned, thanks to the organisation of Ms Adama Diabaté.

Consultation du MEDD Présentation

LSC MEDD audience

ArboRise would like to thank Her Excellency the Minister, and the members of her cabinet for the attention shown to the project and the repeated wish to intensify the collaboration. It is indeed one of arboRise’s statutory aims to share the lessons of its experiences and we will not fail to provide the Guinean authorities with the desired support. This will include, firstly, the contribution of the arboRise project to the Nationally Determined Contributions, in accordance with the Paris Agreements, secondly, the contribution of arboRise in terms of green jobs and reforested area, and finally, the training needed by the Directorate of Water and Forests to strengthen the impact of its reforestation programmes.

It is for this last purpose that the three partners finally met personally with Mr Pierre Lamah, in his capacity as Focal Point of the Green Climate Fund, to follow up on our request for financial support from the Green Fund.