Farmers for Forests - Updates Thread

1) Overall updates (since the last update)

Hello everyone! This is the first update from Farmers for Forests (F4F). We’re a not-for-profit working on increasing and protecting India’s biodiverse forest cover in close collaboration with rural communities like farmers and indigenous tribes.

We’ve been in existence for little over a year now and work in 3 districts of Maharashtra. Our main programs are:

  • Gadchiroli - Forest protection and reforestation in 10,000 hectares of community owned land in collaboration with 71 gram sabhas
  • Raigad - Forest protection and reforestation pilot study over ~125 acres of land and 25 villages. This work is being carried out in collaboration with J-PAL South Asia and UC Berkeley who will be evaluating our work
  • Ahmednagar - Afforestation in degraded farmer lands that are no longer being used for cultivation. We’ve completed afforestation in 10 acres and are in the process of doing another 10 this year

2) Progress on the goals listed while on-boarding

  • GIS mapping of forests in Raigad completed; in the process of beginning baseline drone orthomosaic capture and baseline surveys
  • Afforestation on 4 acres of land in Ahmednagar begun
  • Survey with 71 gram sabhas begun to collect information to create a project design document for Verra / Plan Vivo

3) Any challenges

  • Funding as always is a challenge :slight_smile: Because we don’t yet have our 80G, FCRA, CSR registrations it’s been trickier still
  • Physical exhaustion. Because our work is so physically intensive, everyone working on the field has been getting burnt out pretty quickly.

4) Any new avenues of collaboration (with other Grantees of RCF or other NPO/NGO)

We’re already collaborating with 3 Gadchiroli based not-for-profits. SEARCH which is run by Dr. Abhay and Rani Bang. Aamhi Amchya Arogyasathi which is run by Dr. Satish Gogulwar and Vrikshamitra which is run by Mr. Mohan Hirabhai Hiralal.

In addition to this, we’re exploring two additional collaborations:

  • With Waatavaran for securing Community and Individual Forest Rights (under the FRA, 2006) in Gadchiroli
  • With the Mitti Collective for a survey on Regenerative Agriculture in India

5) Highlights from the initiatives being undertaken as part of your organization

We’re beginning work this month on developing a tree counting algorithm using drone imagery to measure change over short periods of time (quarterly) in tree cover in Raigad & Gadchiroli. We’re super excited about that!

We’re also beginning a small mangrove reforestation pilot in the next 2-3 months! Very excited about that too :slight_smile:

We also recently added two reforestation arms to the Raigad study with the aim of figuring out ways of encouraging scalable and sustainable reforestation in forest-dependent communities.

6) Outcomes you are chasing for the next 6 months (these can remain the same if unchanged since the last update)

These remain unchanged from our first submission. Here there are, anyway!

For the 6 months until (Sept 2021) we aim to:

  1. Intervention and control areas identified in Gachiroli & Raigad Gadchiroli; field team set up and functioning
  2. First draft of project design document ready; process to get No Objection Certificate from Forest Department completed
  3. GIS mapping of all project area completed
  4. Biodiversity registers for all Gram Sabhas in the project completed
  5. Forest Department given orders for 4,00,000 saplings that Gram Sabhas can use for plantation in the next years pre-monsoon seaso
  6. First round of survey completed in Raigad
  7. Plantation for 30,000 trees (15 acres) done in Ahmednagar

7) KPIs (please use this section to let us know of the impact and reach of your work since the last update)

This is our first update! :slight_smile:

8) Can Rainmatter be of help with anything at all

We’re still trying to figure out a cheap, scalable way of tracking impact of reforestation / afforestation on groundwater. Would be great to get some support on this.

While we’ve been getting support from Botanical Survey of India and our nursery partners, like Mr. Raghunath Dhole on species selection, we’ve been wanting to get on board someone with significant ecology / forestry experience as an advisor. Most of our advisors are from a finance and not-for-profit background. We would be grateful if Rainmatter can introduce us to people from their network who we might get on board as advisors.

9) Any additional details you would like to provide

We’ve recently completed developing a comprehensive donor dashboard to provide detailed information to donors (see a partial screenshot below). We’d be grateful to get feedback / thoughts / insights on how we can improve this.

10) Please also share any images or videos that you have documented as part of your work

Our COO, Dr. Vaibhav Mahatme in discussion with Raigad community members on reforestation:

Meetings & coffee under a tree in Gadchiroli - seen in the picture members from SEARCH, Foundation for Ecological Security, Aamhi Amchya Arogyasathi, Vrikshamitra, Farmers for Forests and Shri Dehvaji Tohfa (leader of the village Menda Lekha):