'Tree-Planting Incentives'

LeRoy D. L. DUVALL, Jr. lduvall at nwlink.com
Wed Jun 5 18:17:10 EST 1996


MICHAEL PAINTER wrote:
 
> `TREE-PLANTING INCENTIVES'

	snip
	
> 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 
community. 

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 
to. 

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? 

Cheers,

LeRoy Duvall



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