A nature club has been formed at the Catholic secondary school in Laclubar as part of the Darwin Initiative project. FCOTI field staff started an ecology course for 20 students (10 females, 10 males) from Thursday 16th to Friday 17th December 2020. The course started with a discussion on what is ecology, including how animals and plants interact, and how organisms adapt to changing environments. Students gave examples of their observations such as when some plants close if people are near, and open when threats pass. Another example was how civets distribute coffee seeds as they move through the forest. Working in groups, the student identified major threats to local ecosystems such as drought, fire, timber cutting and uncontrolled grazing.
Students recognised all the birds, reptiles and mammals from photos and talked about where they nest such as geckos on trees or hollows, frogs in rivers and ponds and bats roosting in caves or trees. On the second day, staff took the students into the forest to learn how to measure trees and identify flowers and seeds. More activities will be held when school returns for 2021 terms. Thanks to Guido, Maria, Vincente, Pedro and Domingo for running the course!
The Halo Verde project is now registered as a carbon trading entity on the Plan Vivo Foundation website! Farmers in Laclubar and Soibada have signed new agreements for their carbon certificates, and FCOTI is applying for a Markit account (platform to sell carbon credits) so it wont be long before carbon credits can be sold to interested buyers. Funding from the Darwin Initiative Fund has made this possible through the efforts of FCOTI,GTNT and Charles Sturt University.
The first journal paper from the project has just been published in the Forests, Trees and Livelihoods journal. The title is “Livelihood benefits and challenges of community reforestation in Timor Leste: implications for smallholder carbon forestry schemes”. Findings are based on the 2017 household survey and 2018 indepth interviews with project participants and non-participants.
Citation: Jennifer Bond , Joanne Millar & Jorge Ramos (2020) Livelihood benefits and
challenges of community reforestation in Timor Leste: implications for smallholder carbon forestry schemes, Forests, Trees and Livelihoods, 29:3, 187-204, DOI: 10.1080/14728028.2020.1798817
After much hard work on the ground, at the computer and in offices in Dili and Australia, the Halo Verde project is now officially registered by Plan Vivo Foundation! Once carbon credits are issued, farmers will enter the Voluntary Carbon Market and FCOTI will sell the credits on their behalf.
The carbon validation from Plan Vivio was carried out by a Scotland based independent firm The Landscape and Livelihood Group (TLLG). The field verification mission took place from 1st March to 13th March 2020. The mission by TLLG was accompanied by CSU Forest Carbon expert Jorge Ramos from Charles Sturt University-Australia and FCOTI C.E.O Alexandre Sarmento and the project field team. The entire mission went well as per the schedule and plan. “We are just very lucky that the current State of Emergency in Timor-Leste and subsequent prohibition of entries of foreigners to the country as a result of Covid-19 Pandemic was not yet in effect at that time. This had enabled the validation to be done without difficulty” said Alex Sarmento.
FCOTI, GTNT and CSU would like to thank everyone involved in this process specially funding support from the UK government through Darwin Initiative and technical assistance from Charles Sturt University. The FCOTI field team in Dili, Laclubar and Soibada facilitated visits to a selection of the plantations and meetings with community leaders, farmers, government representatives and NGOs. We look forward to the first-ever Plan Vivo certified carbon Offset project in Timor-Leste!!
On 24th January 2020, F_COTI organised a big tree planting event at Obrato, a small village along the coastal road to Manatuto. They planted more than 3,000 out of a planned 20,000 trees in an area of 18 hectares. Everyone was there to help out from local school students and teachers, NGO and government representatives, police and Timor Leste’s much loved veterans, Xanana Gusmao and Jose Ramos Horta. The Ambassador of European Union, Ambassador of Portugal, UNDP Resident Representative in Timor-Leste, Municipal authorities, Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries and Secretary of State for the Environment also attended.
Fundação Carbon Offset Timor (F-COTI) is building on the work of GTNT and the Darwin project to build capacity of farmers in soil testing, use of organic fertiliser, nurseries and land preparation for tree planting. In the last two months, field staff and farmers have prepared land in Obrato, Manatuto Vila, Timor-Leste to plant 20,000 trees in 18 hectares of barren dry hills in that area. The preparation includes making perimeter fence with barb wire on Amare Fuik Sticks that can eventually serve as life fencing. The trees and live fencing will be gradually included in the current carbon offset scheme being developed by the Darwin project and F-COTI.
Fundação Carbon Offset Timor conducted training on Organic Fertilizers to farmers in Manatuto Vila and Laclubar. The training was conducted by an expert in Microbiology and Agroforestry. The two-day hands-on field-based training (19-20 December 2019) was held in one of agroforestry sites located in Base Camp (named after former Indonesian Military Base Camp) in Manatuto Vila. Participants of this training included farmers from Manatuto Vila and Laclubar, representatives from local communities, some high-school students and representatives from local NGOs and government employees.
Carbon Offset Timor Leste (COTI- the local NGO formed to manage the Darwin project with GTNT) were successful in getting an EU grant to expand agroforestry plantations and capacity building to Manatuto Vila subdistrict over six months (Sept 2019 to March 2020). Two demonstration plots will be established to teach agroforestry best practices and carbon sequestration monitoring. The demonstration plots will consist of 2 hectares in a low dryland area and 1 hectare in the upland area. In addition, COTI has identified a dry coastal area in Manatuto Vila to plant around 20,000 trees, mainly Casuarina. Local rituals by elders have been performed on site.
Three tree nurseries have been established in Manatuto Vila to supply 27,000 seedlings for the demonstration plots and coastal reforestation area. Seedlings include Casuarina, Mahogany, Australian Red Cedar and White Teak. A trainer is developing guidelines and training materials on tree planting, agroforestry, organic fertilizers and nursery establishment. Training for agroforestry, tree planting and nursery management will be held in December 2019 in Manatuto Vila. Selected farmers from Manatuto Vila and Laclubar will be invited to participate.
Casuarina nursery at Olaria, Manatuto Vila November 2019
Elders carrying out ritual to prepare demonstration sites
These two livelihood stories show how tree planting is not for everyone for a variety of reasons. The project aims to create awareness, facilitate capacity and mentor families but ultimately the decision to participate is their choice…
Natercia Soares, Manelima
Natericia has five people in her family (1 male, 4 female). Her husband is an electrician. They have 2 hectares of land and their own house. They grow taro, cassava, banana, and coffee. Livestock include chickens, 2 pigs and 2 goats. They dont use any communal land. Natericia had heard about the tree planting program because some extended family members are involved. “If you have land, you can plant trees”. She saw the brochure but did not express interest because she has many activities to do at home. However, if she had more time, she would like to plant Mahogany, Teak, Casuarina, Pineapple, and Lemon. Her aim is to send children to school. ” I must work hard to sell coffee and palm wine.”
Dircia Pereira de Jesus, Manelima
Dircia has four family members (3 male, 1 female). She works as a cook at the primary school. Her father was a teacher in Soibada and now teaches at Laclubar secondary school. They have a large area of land in Soibada (her family land) where they grow banana, taro, cassava and small coffee trees. They also have 2ha of empty land belonging to her husbands family. They dont keep livestock other than chickens. Dircia had heard about the tree program (her uncle has planted trees) but does not understand much about it. She has no plan to plant trees as the land is far from Manelima where she lives. Her future aspiration is to send children to school but she must work hard to raise income to do this.