Viridis Terra has developed a viable hi-tech economic model for the restoration of forest landscapes. The model's viability is based on creating revenue streams from the production and sale of various commodities and staples (fruits, nuts, coffee, cocoa, medicinal plants), including sustainable timber from regenerated soils and ecosystems.
Viridis Terra operates in areas characterized by precarious communities, land tenure uncertainty and institutional fragility. Degraded lands across the globe are, more often than not, associated with such conditions, which brings upon unsustainable management. The most vulnerable segments of the population and those with less access to capital for restoration activities, namely women and Indigenous People, are most affected. Other industry challenges include natural disasters enhanced by climate change, uncommitted or delinquent landholders, and low productivity of the degraded lands.
We partner directly with landholders and give them the tools for sustainable management. Viridis Terra also provides cutting-edge technologies, training, and technical and institutional support.
Operating in policy vacuums and global urgency, we have developed a series of approaches that mitigate the array of related risks.
The quality of the relationship between Viridis Terra and its stakeholders and partners on the ground constitutes the fundamental element of the system's stability, effectiveness, efficiency, and dependability. Viridis Terra is conscious that the relationship's quality is the cornerstone for establishing an effective partnership, an essential condition for durable and genuine development.
Communications and engagement activities with the targeted communities have been initiated many months and even, in some instances, years ago. Such exchanges are evolving into more structured steps, including:
We establish an accessible and responsive complaint mechanism. Continuous feedback is also a feature of this approach characterized by a constant, systematic and two-way exchange of knowledge between Viridis Terra and its partners on the ground.
We manage all of the above with a team of culturally sensitive and trained professionals on the ground aided by community members and supported by effective corporate policies and tools.
The business model entails payments for ecosystem services (PES) to ensure a constant flow of revenues to the landholders once they have agreed to participate in the program and during the intervening period between the start of the Project and the generation of net revenues. Such an intervening period can vary, depending on the land managem ent model selected and established on the land, from two (2) or three (3) years to seven (7) to fifteen years (15) for sustainable timber. In other words, work undertaken by the landowner will always be receiving a reward.
A portion of the revenues generated by certified carbon credits also corresponds to the landholder.
In a given watershed, we support and invest in developing community institutions (e.g., associations, cooperatives) to provide the community with the essential tools of its development.
Such tools provide the community with instruments for investing in its future, create a community discipline and greater access to information and competencies, more robust and more effective community institutions. It is an essential ingredient for the all-important appropriation process and for becoming effective partners. We achieve that through our involvement and in association with NGOs specializing in community development.
Viridis Terra invests very significant amounts, year after year, in research and development (R&D) to create and share innovative and better performing approaches with its partners and stakeholders.
The restoration model proposed is also coupled with various advanced technologies, including our patent-pending biotechnologies used in complementary with high-tech tree factory for seedling production and biotechnology labs to produce biofertilizers, geo-traceability and remote sensing. Those technologies ensure the sustainability, success, high productivity, and monitoring of the restoration in the long term. The results of those judiciously managed inputs are increased land productivity by two (2) or three (3) folds, faster and better-growing trees and more productive and more resilient soils. It also leads to more significant carbon sequestration and quicker restoration of biodiversity, creating value more rapidly for all involved.
A tripartite contract gives co-ownership of the rights on the biological assets from trees to landholders and TreesOfLives, the project investment platform of Viridis Terra.
Agreements between TreesOfLives, Viridis Terra and landholders are adapted to the local circumstances and vetted by competent NGOs or governmental third parties for fairness and equity and the object of a consultation process with the communities.
While those agreements outline the Parties' responsibilities, duties, obligations, level of efforts, timelines, ecosystem payments, etc., they will apply to an area designated by the landholders, which will still allow them to maintain their own cultures on up to 20% of the sites dedicated to the Project.
In other words, the landowners will continue growing such staples as corn and beans to feed their families or to produce for a local cooperative or a local initiative. We will support such a venture even if it does not draw a direct benefit from it.
While a legal lien is required between the investor and the biological assets to be created directly and by way of the community through an eventual or an existing community legal representation (e.g., cooperative or association), its codification is the result of a consensual process. Legal drafts are developed by lawyers, submitted to third parties to ensure equity, including organizations dedicated to defending the environment, community or indigenous rights.
Sharing knowledge on a vast array of community development tools, through capacity building, including the importance of respecting commitments, is part of our community development strategy. It also contributes to a continuum of engagement and feedback activities between the community and us, facilitating adjustments and preventing crises.
Viridis Terra formalized partnerships with local credible well-established organizations playing a formal or informal guarantor for community undertakings, in many cases, by way of formal Memorandum of Understanding. We compliment those partnerships with an accessible and responsive complaint mechanism that connects Viridis Terra's management's upper echelon directly to activities on the ground.
Viridis Terra is very sensitive to the imperious necessity of maintaining a deep understanding of its projects' social, political and cultural contexts. To achieve such knowledge, we have established partnerships with local organizations of all categories, including non-governmental, governmental and private sectors. We also are in touch with various industry leaders (environmentalists, businesses, religious, distributors, exporters, processors, community development organizations, etc.).
Viridis Terra has established, within its business plan, a reserve fund, to face potential losses.
This contingency aims to compensate for such risks from natural disasters and failure to respect a contract's terms by an individual or a community. Still, it is not limited to any particular reason.
We are also working on mobilizing de-risking instruments (first loss equity and guarantees) for each of its projects with international institutions (IFIs) and international development institutions (GEF, BID, GAC, etc.). Risk, in this way, is mutualized and shared with a broader base.
Viridis Terra has developed its TreesofLives project investment platform, which includes data monitoring and traceability tools to provide all stakeholders, with priority to landholders and investors, real-time data on the state of their investment, be the investment financial or the result of hard work.
Our projects will always be exposed to the risks of natural disasters such as floods, fires, hurricanes, locusts, etc. We design our projects to significantly increase nature's resilience through the protection that a canopy offers, stabilizing and conserving soils, and many other environmental benefits.
Moreover, Viridis Terra has set a 30 % of all restoration activities dedicated to restoring natural ecosystems such as forests and wetlands to protect water sources, conserve soil and enhance biodiversity. This approach will protect the productive forests and agroforests established in the landscape against storms, drought, fire, among others.
We have selected Peru as the first country for such an investment after an extensive multi-month data collection, evaluation and comparison. Its institutions' relative sophistication and stability, its pro-private sector policies, its experience with reforestation, its commitment to Forestry Landscape Restoration (FLR) activities, the existence of an International Assistance programme, its many climates, all conjugated towards the decision.
The programmes mentioned above entail a whole range of goals, standards and approaches espoused wholly or exceeded by Viridis Terra.
We relate ESG approaches to any efforts and actions, actively contributing to the axiomatic "Common Good." IFLR® is not merely an environmental concept but an officially registered trademark, one that integrates the physical and the human environment and aims to benefit all concerned, including, of course, the planet.
For us, Integrated Social Responsibility (ISR) is not a matter for corporations alone but all categories of stakeholders (private, public and plural sectors) a series of clearly defined values, serving as a filter or as a catalyst for defining specific means of creating effective partnerships between all categories of stakeholders in a given project.
Finally, the SDGs constitute a target for our activities: we have developed an internal evaluation matrix to measure and enhance impacts for each of the UN development goals.
Last but not least, we invoke deep-rooted, clearly identified and rigorously implemented values. Viridis Terra promotes its own Integrated Social Responsibility framework (ISR), which is based on the following values: Respect, transparency (accountability), inclusion, social, environmental durability and economic viability. Two processes accompany these values, conflict management (prevention) and the sharing of knowledge with all stakeholders as a means of growing together harmoniously.
Furthermore, the ISR entails that success (durability) of the outputs and outcomes is tied to the effective interactions or partnerships that must prevail between the private sector, the public sector, and the plural (civil society) sector of any socio-economic project.
VTI often uses the word "durability" rather than "sustainability," coined by the Brundtland Commission (1987) and popularized by the Rio Summit (1992), which was associated with "doing no harm." By using "durability," we want to underline that our approaches aim at not only merely limiting its activities to "doing no harm but "doing a lot of good" thus having a positive and permanent impact for all including the planet.
Viridis Terra tackles the challenges associated with risks from many different angles. It firmly believes that by weaving a web of countermeasures and mitigating approaches, many promoted by the convergence of interests and values with its partners, risk can be significantly reduced.