Frequently asked questions
Questions about Kuwi.org
To date, we’ve always managed to let our spending reflect our goal of maximum impact. How much money goes into climate projects differs from year to year. On average we managed to spend 75% of funds received directly on climate projects. This is not where we want it to be but as a young organisation (2017) we’re still building the foundation that bigger organisations already have.
To read more about our financial roadmap and objectives please check out our annual reports.
The other 25% of our budget covers everything else, from staffing, marketing and software development. Transparency, responsibility and accountability together form the cornerstones of our organisation. Feel free to take a look into our compliance ledger including receipts and certificates from our planting partners.
Countless studies show that supporting climate projects and offsetting CO2 play a big role in reversing climate change. After industrialisation, deforestation is the biggest cause of climate change.
Where industrialisation has increased the level of CO2 in our atmosphere deforestation decreases the absorption of CO2, the combination of these two factors have severely damaged the climate and ecosystems globally.
Starting in 2017 we are still a small organisation and just a tiny element in the growing movement of millions of people concerned about climate change. We believe our organisation mainly facilitates the people and businesses that want to make a difference.
People like you, and the businesses that support us have cumulatively planted almost half a million trees and captured over 400.000 tons of CO2. Our impact is measured by how we spend money and it’s our mission to do this as efficiently as possible.
Since you reading this we expect you to be above average concerned about, or aware of, your footprint.
Unfortunately, this is not the case for all people. The average CO2 emission per person differs vastly from 3 tons annually for the concerned people up to 30 tons for the least concerned people. For example, the average CO2 emission per person in the UK (5,5 tons) is three times lower than in the US with 15,5 tons per person.
Based on the number we can conclude that planting trees is just a part of the solution. Little adaptations in your life can make a huge difference. It’s true, showering a few minutes less make a big difference, check our article “small changes with big impact”.
The collective impact you contribute to is verifiable via our reporting and compliance ledger. We implement high standards for our planting partners and take responsibility and accountability for their performance. We call for an elaborate project plan via an encompassing template and we require regular audits by third parties to ensure the project’s success from start until decades in the future.
To ensure long term success we aim to work together with the same organisations year over year. Via our internal playbook based on ISO 9001 and ISO 19011, we keep ourselves sharp on the pitfalls that come with long-term relationships and we also bear responsibility in the long term. For carbon offsets, we only buy credits that meet the industry-leading carbon standards being the Gold Standard and Verified Carbon Standard.
We have an open book and open office policy so if you are from the press, a client, supplier or just a curious individual you can always contact us for compliance-related enquiries at email@example.com.
Questions about trees
A key question that requires a detailed answer. We take responsibility and ownership in our selection of planting partners. The project tender phase is only accessible for renowned organisations and we require a well written, tailored and comprehensive plan to ensure the funds are spent as effectively as possible. Aftercare forms an important element of the plan for partner selection.
It’s important to understand that it’s not for all projects the objective to let trees run their full lifecycle. Most of the CO2 that trees capture is captured in their growth phase, when a tree is in the last phase of its lifecycle it’s sensible to use its natural resources. Think of sustainable (for example FCS) wood for furniture or paper. It is essential to replace the tree.
Not replacing trees used for resources, or cutting down trees that are still productive and/or delivering forestry products are the cause of mass deforestation; not the phenomenon of humans using wood for crafts and construction. If you’re interested please read our full article about responsible forest management here.
NOTE: The above mentioned only applies to specific planting projects like agroforestry. This does not apply to planting projects for the purpose of restoring primary forests and rainforests nor for planting projects that involve the restoration of animal habitats. At Kuwi almost all projects fall under the latter mentioned as we feel that restoring the damage caused by over two centuries of industrial mass deforestation has priority.
The best solutions for sustainable forest management are:
- Working together with the (local) government to ensure desired reforestation projects benefit all stakeholders. In most cases, the government appoints national parks and other protected areas for reforestation projects. Especially in Asia governments have made big steps in understanding the catastrophic effect that mass deforestation had on their ecosystems. The national parks often have very rare and threatened species which the government is eager to protect in perpetuity.
Working with the local communities and hiring local villagers to plant the trees. This way there is an incentive for villagers to protect their work to ensure the continuity for future reforestation projects. We love this approach as the knife cuts both ways as it fights poverty whiles enabling financially feasible planting projects. We also take responsibility and ownership in preventing modern slavery as can be read in our statement against modern slavery.
In addition to the above mentioned is education. We have noticed that the local communities are thriving under the employment and cohesion that planting trees bring. They notice the effect of restoring the ecosystem; increase in fisheries, better farming, cleaner water and less vermin. When conditions are improving they feel ownership and enthusiasm to protect their forest.
Planting agroforestry species i.e. fruit, construction and fodder. These species form a recurring source of income and supply the needs of humans and animals in the local communities. As explained before, these trees can be used for raw materials if they are replaced.
- Providing alternative sources of fuel. Mainly in African countries wood is still the main source of fuel. By providing fuel-efficient dry wood stoves and other alternative sources of energy the need for charcoal and wood is reduced or eliminated.
- Hiring forest guards as part of their workforce. Especially the bigger planting partners have those for each project.
All organisations we work with have delivered a plan that is approved by us and measure up to the requirements. One of which is independent and regular auditing, we closely monitor all auditing reports internally.
This aspect is also incorporated in our template for project tenders. The planting projects we fund are audited by third parties. We study and assess those regularly, please shoot us an email if you wish to receive one or several of these reports
If you’ve purchased a tree as an individual for a planting project in Europe we’ll send you the exact location.
Yes, manmade homogeneous forests do not contribute to the restoration of ecosystems and do not fall under the scope of responsible reforestation. Each project we fund starts with an analysis to map out the native species of the forest and what is required to restore a balanced ecosystem. Projects always contain dozens of species planted over a multi-year plan. One exemption to this is reforestation projects in nordic climates near the artic, in this climate monoculture forests are natural.
To date, we mainly plant fast-growing species. For CO2 capturing purposes fast-growing species are vital in reforesting the globe quickly, efficiently and impactfully. Since cost is an ever deciding factor we aim to maximise impact for the budget we have.
Kuwi is quite a young organisation (2017) but we are more than a reforestation organisation. We care for ecosystems as a whole so planting a wider variety of species is one of our top priorities. The wider the variety of trees the bigger our supply chain is getting, therefore we must work towards our goal at a healthy rate to ensure the wellbeing and continuity of our organisation. In the future, we aim to start up more projects specifically focused on restoring animal habitats.
Especially the plantation of rare and endangered species is by no means easy. It involves a different set of knowledge and operations. These trees often need to be planted individually within ecosystems under specific conditions. This makes it up to 25 times more expensive than planting fast-growing species.
In short, the 80-20 rule also exists within these projects. For the most part, it is relatively easy to plant the dominant species within the ecosystem and then comes the complex part of restoring the forest to its original state by planting specific species.
For this we look at two aspects; the initial survival rate and the reproduction of the survived trees (natural regeneration). The latter varies wildly per species as some are considered asexual while others can have both male and female flowers. In addition, there are climate and wildlife variations that determine the presence of pollinators like wind, insects and birds.
The initial survival rate exceeds 80%. Various studies have rated the combination of the initial survival rate and natural regeneration somewhere between 150% and 500% depending on the variety of factors mentioned.
This differs wildly per species. For each tree, we plant you can find this on the info page of the specific species. It’s important to not stare blindly at the number as other factors play a role like the natural regeneration rate (reproduction rate of a tree).
For example, Mangroves are relatively cheap to plant, reproduce quickly and take up around 300kg of CO2 in their growth phase. On the other hand, some species take up 800kg of CO2 in their growth phase but the natural regeneration rate is far lower and the planting is more expensive.
Either way, reforestation is one of the best tools to capture carbon pollution from our atmosphere. Trees don’t need electricity or maintenance to function and offer a wide array of additional benefits like fruits, shade durable wood products like FSC certified paper and furniture.
Reforestation has also led to the prevention of extinction for multiple animal species. Partially thanks to the Trees for Tigers projects we have seen an increase in the tiger population in India for several years in a row (after decades of decline).
This mainly applies to reforestation projects in Africa, India and South America. The restoration of ecosystems is beneficial for the native population in many ways. No involvement is initiated without the explicit consent of both the indigenous and the (local) government.
Never has a local community refused one of the projects. Not just because it brings employment but also because they get an important say in the design of the project. The creates a sense of ownership amongst the local community and ensures they’ll benefit from the outcomes of the project like access to fruit harvesting.
Kuwi was founded to aid in the fight against climate change. Along our journey, we learned that employment is a major side effect of reforestation. The increased popularity of offsetting CO2 in the west has made us aware that this is a very fortunate side effect that brings the opportunity to improve the quality of life of the bottom 10%.
We take this responsibility very seriously when selecting our planting partners. For the bigger planting partners, humane labour conditions and fair pay are guaranteed and audited. However, we also want to allow new and smaller initiatives to get funding, especially because new planting organisations often emerge from within via micro-enterprises. For these micro-enterprises, we ensure their norms and values align with ours and we keep close contact with them to ensure fair pay for workers and proper labour conditions. If you’re interested you can read how we take responsibility in our statement against modern slavery.
Beyond a doubt, proper working conditions include healthcare, retirement fund, annual leave and continued payment in case of illness. Since planting trees is influenced by the weather we ensure workers get paid a full monthly minimum wage regardless of the weather prohibited planting projects to be executed. We believe anyone has the right to sustainable, long-term employment to enable families to develop themselves and family.
Our planting partners also see how their mission for reforestation can aid the local communities. Therefore they often evolve into a combination of reforestation and a poverty alleviation organisation. For example, our partner tist.org employs over ten thousand planters. For many, this is their first paying job and some even used to cut wood illegally out of poverty. Tist.org helps with education, prevention of HIV and has even helped to fund schools for children.
This all is made possible by the increased popularity of planting trees to offset CO2 in prosperous nations. Therefore we sincerely thank all of you that participate in those projects like offsetting your flights by planting trees. There is far more benefit than just CO2 capturing and at Kuwi we are well aware we play a gatekeeping role in this emerging industry.