LeRoy D. L. DUVALL, Jr.
lduvall at nwlink.com
Wed Jun 5 18:17:10 EST 1996
MICHAEL PAINTER wrote:
> `TREE-PLANTING INCENTIVES'
> A key question is whether financial inducements to plant trees (as used in most of
> the developed world) have a place in the developing countries? Farmers in the tropics (like
> farmers everywhere) are reluctant to invest time, money, and labour in a long-payback crop
> like timber-trees (as opposed to fruit trees). Several tree planting grant or loan schemes
> exist in the tropics, but it is unclear how successful they've been. Many aid agencies feel
> that such inducements are `unsustainable' - even if they work in the short term.
I am really surprised that I haven't seen a single reply in the
newsgroup to your question. Maybe I missed them if there were. Hopefully
you received some responses via e-mail, if in fact there were no replys
through the newgroup.
I am not aware of any development assistance programs where people have
been paid for the act of planting trees for themselves, but no doubt it
has happened somewhere. I have heard of several programs (in Somalia and
Haiti I believe) where people were paid for successfully raising
seedlings in their private/subsidized nurseries which the projects then
purchased. The projects would contract for the seedlings, provide the
materials and training, and purchase the seedlings when they were ready,
thereby avoiding or at least reducing the cost of having project
nurseries, while introducing nursery technology and skills into the
The idea of paying people to plant seedlings has a certain logic, and
appeal, at least initially. Pay enough, and anyone will plant trees. You
need to work out details like paying for the tree reaching a certain
minimum size - i.e. to try ensure survival, rather than having people
plant the trees and then walking away with the payment in hand, as the
goat, cow, or whatever kills the seedling. A good income source for the
tree planter in the second case though, because next year s/he can plant
some more trees where the first ones died, but you can be sure s/he will
only plant if paid, because you paid last year.
Also, how are you going to avoid having people insist that they must be
paid to participate in any future planting or any other activity for
that matter? I remember visiting a project activity in a village in
Mali. The particular village and another village had been planting trees
enthusiastically - in fact there was an inter-village competition - who
could plant the most trees and have the best survival. At some point,
the village I visited had received assistance from another source to
build a well. The competing village somehow thought that the well had
been supported by the project that was sponsering the tree planting -
which it wasn't. The second village stopped all tree planting
activities, completely. They were not planting any more trees until they
too had a well - and they wouldn't accept that someone else had provided
support for a well, not the tree project.
Another question, do we only care about planting trees - is that the
objective, or do we also want benefits to be distributed in the
community? If we are interested in benefit distribution, equity, and
things like that, in certain countries paying to plant trees will
probably only benefit men and could very likely cause added burdens for
women. Some places, only men can own and plant trees, and they often own
or control the land - women can't plant or own trees. And then, getting
money into men's hands does not ensure that the "family unit" will
necessarily benefit. It may very well be only the men that benefit, and
for sure, only those people who own or have access to land will benefit.
There are lots of questions that one could raise about the benefits and
pitfalls of handouts, which is what paying people to plant trees amounts
Have you had anyone provide examples of people being paid to plant trees
for themselves, not as forestry laborers, etc? If, so what was the
result and how was the effort viewed when it was done?
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