Helping smallholder farmers reforest their land in Nicaragua



About the project:

Deforestation spread throughout Nicaragua in the 1950s and 1960s, as plantations of cotton and other agricultural commodities expanded. Today, smallholder farmers, most of whom earn less than $2 per day but own and operate the majority of the country's farmland, are still cutting down trees on their land. Their short-term economic needs force them to adopt unsustainable practices to make ends meet.

To reverse that damage, Taking Root’s CommuniTree Carbon Program, founded in 2010 as a Plan Vivo carbon credit project, helps these same smallholder farmers reforest their land. Taking Root, an Initiative 20x20 partner, provides financial incentives, advisory services and market access to farmers to help them grow trees. Not only does the program restore forests on less productive land, but it also brings additional income to farmers while fighting climate change.

CommuniTree’s ecological impact relies on putting farmers first and building improved livelihoods. The forests that they grow along their food crops (and cattle) create value by providing high-quality products, like timber and shade-grown coffee. In the last decade, smallholder farmers have planted over 10 million trees across 6,100 hectares of land. In total, $6.9 million has been invested in more than 1,300 families, whose work is sequestering more than 1.5 million tons of carbon. In 2020 alone, CommuniTree created close to 3,000 seasonal jobs, the majority of which employed landless farmers, who are often the poorest and most vulnerable members of their communities. Taking Root's team of 40 permanent staff train these communities in sustainable practices, delivering over 18,000 workshops in 2020.

Taking Root has always held innovation at the heart of its work. Its platform FARM-TRACE automates forest and carbon reporting using local data, remote sensing, and satellite imagery, making it more affordable for farmers to track their impact. To help coffee farmers switch to organic practices (and boost the market price of their crop), Taking Root introduced an affordable "bioreactor" that efficiently creates yield-boosting compost. Similarly, they are encouraging farmers to produce sustainable biochar to improve crop yields, restore forest and soil health, and store carbon in the ground.

The United Nations has declared the 2021-2030 the Decade on Ecosystem Restoration, and the CommuniTree Carbon Program intends to generate more impact than ever. In Nicaragua alone, Taking Root and its smallholder partners hope to restore 20,000 hectares of land by 2025. And using FARM-TRACE, which has already connected farmers to funders in 9 countries across all three tropical continents, Taking Root will continue to grow its impact around the world.

Investment type


AgroforestryLow-carbon agricultureReforestationSilvopasture


$6.9 million

Media contact:

 Eric Warner, Marketing Coordinator, Taking Root,