Skip to content

Linking carbon markets to local communities: Project Sapling /

Rising global temperatures and the resulting “heat stress” leads to crop failure, reduced water availability and changes in the hydrologic cycle. This accelerates urban migration and ads strain to scarce municipal and natural resources, including water supply.

The climate community is aware that one proven way to break this cycle is carbon sequestration through sustained tree growth, supporting both climate mitigating and adaptive strategies. Tree growth can also provide livelihoods to communities growing trees in water catchment areas which slows urban migration, secures water sources, and mitigates against flooding. 

In Sierra Leone, it is projected that temperatures will increase by 1.0 – 2.5 degrees Celsius by 2060¹. Given the country’s topography and meteorology, Sierra Leone is one of the planet’s most optimum regions for tree growth and as such contains the potential to have a disproportionately large impact on climate mitigation. There is significant carbon capture potential in the country, given that it has an annual incremental tree growth rate among the top 5% globally. As such, the Government of Sierra Leone (GoSL) wants to plant 25 million trees to reach the climate mitigation goal of carbon neutrality. 

The challenge

Many of the world’s governments recognise the benefits of unlocking carbon finance, but often don’t fully appreciate the complexities of sustained project management such as growth verification and relationship/capacity building with remote communities. Making livelihood payments in areas with little access and no network coverage can also be a challenge.

The solution

Crown Agents has a long-standing relationship with the Government of Sierra Leone and in finding solutions to problems such as unlocking the climate market. This is why we developed Project Sapling in partnership with the Sierra Leonian Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change, Tacugama Chimp Sanctuary, UAVAid Ltd, the Directorate of Science Technology and Innovation and the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO). 

Through Project Sapling, we propose a partnership with GoSL and local organisations to: 

  • Provide real time verification of individual tagged trees through innovative drone GIS monitoring mapped onto a wider online reporting platform.
  • Add to existing government partnerships by building capacity and mobilising communities to be stewards of multi-use, sustainable forests.

In taking a community-based approach to forest management and governance, we are building sustained stewardship and alternative incentives to deforestation. The project will mobilise communities to identify and gather indigenous seeds, grow them to saplings in locally resourced nurseries, and train them as forest monitors and stewards. We can provide highly localized forestry skills to ensure replanting success from the start, designing forests that increase biodiversity of local and appropriate species, meeting multiple goals of community welfare, conservation, disaster risk reduction, watershed management, and other ecosystem services in addition to carbon capture.

The monitoring, reporting, and verification drone technology will give unprecedented access to monitoring the success of reforestation efforts over time. While use of remote sensing to determine land use and vegetation cover is not new, the ability to track the status of individual trees will provide more accurate data to quantify the expected amount of carbon captured. It will also provide stakeholders and investors with real time reporting on successes, payment benchmarks, and required operations and maintenance to sustain forest health.