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Red Tree Program: developing sustainable communities by growing productive ecosystems that deliver NTFPs and support carbon markets/SRIs



Chi Miigwech, Merci, Gracias, Thankyou very Much for your interest and support in this beautiful project...

The vision

Sustainability - economic, social/cultural, and environmental - for ALL our futures

fabric of humanity

The Red Tree Program, - Rural Economic Development Through Restorative Environmental Engagement - is a program inspired by our own connections to the world around us and a sincere appreciation for the beauty within it. These are the driving forces behind this projects main objective: to develop and sustain healthy livelihoods in rural communities by restoring and protecting the social and economic viability of productive ecosystems

With this objective, the participants of this project will be sustainably growing healthy food and material resources, creating work and jobs for community members, and restoring and protecting degraded and sensitive land.

This will be done through a number of focused activities that serve to reconnect communities back to the natural environments we depend upon:

  1. Education
  2. Restoration agriculture
  3. Wild harvesting of Non-Timber Forest Products (NTFP's)
  4. and developing communications around ecosystem services that can help to connect this project to the growing network of knowledge that will support its adoption in other areas of the world.




Our connection to nature is threatened. Our connection to our own needs is unclear. Our very survival is at stake, and co-operation is our only way forward.

We must begin to pull back our efforts towards acknowledging and meeting our basic needs – food, water, shelter, and energy. In order to do this, industries, organizations, individuals, and cultures must begin communicate effectively, reweaving respect, wisdom, courage, honesty, truth, love, and humility back into ‘business as usual’. 


We hope this project can open our eyes to a new worldview that acknowledges the beauty and absolute importance of our natural resources, now and in the future. 

What actions do you propose?

Pilot a project at the community scale 

crest-watermarkSFNBP green feetT4s

This program is part of a pilot program developed by Green Feet owner, Amanda Hutter as Masters of Science in Forestry program study which is the culmination of over 3 years of dedicated efforts towards the vision of this program. However, this is not the work solely of Green Feet, but the collective intelligence of many organizations, professionals, and passionate individuals who have shared their visions and beliefs of sustainability in our futures. Most importantly, the history of first nations cultures was respectfully overlaid upon this pilot program, giving momentum to the actions of this work from the force of the needs and knowledge of an entire culture. This program itself is in its infancy, beginning in October 2013.

Out of this work, the following focused activities will take place:

  1. Education
  2. Restoration agriculture
  3. Wild harvesting of Non-Timber Forest Products (NTFP's)
  4. and developing communications around ecosystem services that can help to connect this project to the growing network of knowledge that will support its adoption in other areas of the world.

The first action that carries through the life of this program is as follows:

Respectful collaboration.

Regardless of organizational, demographic, or cultural boundaries, this project is alive and growing because of collaboration around the common vision of sustainability. As knowledge is gained through the communications of this project, the strengths of this knowledge are creatively placed accordingly within the actions. triplebottomline

This allows focus to be directed towards actions that support a wholistic approach towards achieving our vision, objective and meeting basic needs through the focused activities above

As such, this project is foreseen to grow, and actions are planned accordingly...

Understanding the context of our pilot project


Our pilot project is located within the Saugeen First Nations community in Ontario Canada. This community is the heart of this project and understanding the community itself where this program is being grown is absolutely essential. When presented with the original vision, objective, and actions, the intentions expressed by this community could be addressed and the program can then begin to be tuned accordingly.

medicine wheel

The intentions of this community are that once this work is able to provide and sustain healthy livelihoods within the community itself, this work will be able to be applied in other first nation communities, then other rural non-first nation communities in a co-operative effort towards sustainability 

The culture itself where this pilot project happens is wholistic in nature and it is this approach which we wish to learn from and share with others....but first, we must listen and learn.

Community engagement, education, research and planning


Saugeen Shores-

The first phase represents a process of learning and education, research and planning. At this projects onset, we explore the cultural, economic and environmental contexts which set the parameters of the resources available to make the vision of this project a reality.

As is pointed out by a member of the community, "We cannot try to go forward at the pace of an eagle, when we are tethered to a turtle". Basic needs must be addressed.


This action involves community gatherings, workshops, meetings, field tours, and days in the field where we learn about the characteristics of the land we will be restoring, the land we will be harvesting from, and the knowledge and resources held within the community.

This helps to forge the beginnings of an education program which will be developed over the course of this program. This education program will follow the traditional practices and knowledge sharing activities of the First Nation community it is within. Over the course of research and planning to be undertaken by project leads and participants, methods of blending traditional ecological knowledge with modern knowledge will be explored (ie sustainable harvesting practices have both modern and traditional implications, so healthy harvesting methods, limits, and timings must be agreed upon according to the best available knowledge.)

Restoration Agriculture


In order to restore degraded areas of land, RedTree program will start by researching and planning the ability of using restoration agriculture (Analog Forestry) on farmland to grow the resources necessary to develop a productive ecosystem which is self-sustaining, provides for the basic needs of the community, and then over time is able to provide marketable ecosystem NTFP’s and services.

Planting a new Analog forest

On the Ground:

Oak Guild



Suitable pieces of land will be restored using techniques from Restoration Agriculture, specifically, Analog Forestry. What this technique looks like on the ground is farmland or open spaces, publically or privately owned, that are converted into perennial agriculture plots containing a variety of native plants. The variety of plants used mimics the structure of a natural forest by creating many layers and many networks of relationships. Each variety of plant selected can be used as non-timber forest products (NTFP’s). NTFP’s are plants that can be used as medicines, crafts, foods, syrups, etc, Not only are these young forests strong and healthy, but they are productive and valuable too. Because there are many plants grown, sustainable harvesting can take place within this strong and resilient ecosystem. This does take time, but it takes pressure off lands while still sustainably growing foods and other important resources.

An Analog Forest is VERY similar to a natural forest by encouraging LOTS of biodiversity

After basic needs are met, the PRODUCTIVE VALUE of the ecosystem being restored (functions, services, and biodiversity) will be assessed and correlated with a wholistic cost/benefit analysis measures. Once this data is collected, potentials for returns on investment for Socially Responsible investments will be explored, as well as using current data on carbon markets to be able to apply this work towards carbon market funding strategies to seed future sites, as well as partner this work with interested industries. This has far reaching potentials which will draw on much collaboration. 


Sustainable Wild Harvesting


Programs geared towards the sustainable harvest and management of Non Timber Forest Products (NTFP’s) in forested areas will be taking place in the community, including workshops, field days, interviews, and potluck meals featuring wild edibles. Linking these resources (foods, medicines, craft supplies, ornamentals, seeds, etc) to users) and outcomes (ie basket weavers, medicine programs, cooks, etc) is an essential outcome so community engagement is critical for this work.

The extraction of natural resources must be respected according to the INTERESTS of the community, the CAPACITY of the land, the OWNERSHIP of the land, and the EDUCATION potentials. This is part of experiential education for interested participants on the structure and value of natural forest ecosystems,  as well as an opportunity to reconnect to traditions of storytelling.




A large part of this harvesting is to develop best management practices to sustainably manage forests through the harvest of Non Timber Forest Products that can or are growing in these forests

Although the harvesting of NTFP is a tricky and arguable practice, the threats to the integrity of forested ecosystems across Ontario from agriculture, logging. development, and the HUGE demand for resources far outweigh the impacts that harvesting would have, especially if proper planning and research is done to create sustainable BMPs that simultaneously encourage a connection and understanding of forest resources.

Plots of sustainably managed harvestingWorking in the field?winter_spruce_top_collection_caption

This program will be using GIS mapping and modelling, creating a master database of perennial NTFP’s to help with planning and management, and will be working with elders and experts who have been working with products for much of their careers. Local businesses and restaurants will be working in partnership with this stream to help with harvesting, processing, and sales of these NTFP’s.

Food and Products: This work is presented as an alternative to conventional farming that will help to reduce the dependency of this community on outside sources for food. It is an effort to localize food securement strategies within the community. Through the education, restoration agriculture as well as wild harvesting, this program will be able to grow and harvest perennial foods to feed our communities. As well, this community will be able to sustainably grow and harvest many items that people can sell and use to sustain their livelihoods. This is a wholistic approach the focuses first on securing basic needs, helping that ‘turtle’ to reach the speed of the ‘eagle’ so that energies are freed towards securing economic, social, and environmental sustainability. 

Harvesting from restored area

Employment: Also a facet of helping that ‘turtle’ to reach the speed of the ‘eagle’, employment and meaningful paid work will be created, funded through the profits of the sale of sustainably grown and harvested resources, carbon market invested, or socially responsible investments (according to the research into the productive value of ecosystems).

It is hoped that profits and employment can be generated through the sale of sustainably harvested products, the maintenance and planting of new forests, the processing of products, a greenhouse program, GIS mapping and management, education and teaching, and much more.


Environmental Restoration: Although this takes time and maintenance and a few extra steps, these planned and researched techniques will help to restore and protect ecosystems and create areas for wildlife to thrive. Although the connections have been lost over time, best of all, this work will help to connect people physically with the natural world, teaching people to understand how ecosystems work, and how we benefit from them by using things that come from them The research, planning, and establishing cooperative partnerships required to do all this is the first step in lay the groundwork making this idea a reality

Communications and future applications

Understanding the root vision of this project is a common goal of many organizations. Part of this climate co-lab seeks to address this. This project takes this collaboration as a priority, both within this project, with interested organizations, businesses, individuals (etc), and with other similar projects from which to gain inspiration. This requires methods of communication to be explored so that skills and talents that support the main objectives can be applied to the activities of this program, cultural contexts can be understood, learning between entities can occur, risks can be expressed and addressed, and competition can be avoided. THIS is CRUCIAL to moving this work forward.

Methods of communication will attempt to express concepts of productive value of ecosystems, relationships with the natural world and resources upon which cultures are built, sustainable funding strategies, traditional ecological knowledge, and skills development. Communications will attempt to use the following forms to communicate the concepts in the above categories:

  • Technical
  • Common
  • Experiential
  • Artistic


This will be an ongoing process throughout the life of this program.

To support research in communications, presentations will be made at conferences and events, social media and newspaper will be used to update communities, information pamphlets will be created, and active collaboration that will be sharing and absorbing knowledge and experiences of similar projects into this project, including with the participants of the climate co-lab, will be ongoing.


Who will take these actions?

This program has been an ongoing endeavor by Green Feet for over 3 years. Currently, it is being led by GF owner as the subject of a Masters thesis of Science in Forestry jointly supported by Lakehead University, Bruce Power, Saugeen FN, and SauGreen. The program itself has been growing since October 2013

The pilot and on site program is being led by the following women:

Amanda Hutter (Green Feet Ecosystem Goods and Services): Environmental

Victoria Serda (SauGreen): Economic

Lori Kewaquom (Culture and Wellness Coordinator/Saugeen First Nation): Culture/Social

This planting portions of this project will be done by both these 3 project leads as well as a 'forest garden crew', an extension of this communities already existing 'community garden'

Additionally, pending funding, research and planning will be done with the assistance of the following partners:

  • University of Waterloo (peer review and research)
  • University of Guelph (peer review and research)
  • University of Lakehead (masters research support)
  • University of Wisconsin Arboretum (research and restoration modelling)
  • Ontario Nature (management planning and incentivization)
  • Alternative Land Use Services (ALUS) (Grey Bruce, Norfolk County)  (carbon offsetting and incentivization)
  • Grey Bruce Federation of Agriculture (education and outreach, landowner research)
  • Grey Bruce Foodlink (market linking and local product sales)
  • Saugeen First Nation (site location and community development)
  • Jonathan Forbes, Forbes wildcrafts (product sales and education)
  • Greening Australia past participants (peer reviews) (carbon offset research)
  • Bruce Power (corporate sponsor)
  • Green Feet (corporate sponsor) (project lead)
  • Trees for Saugeen (carbon offset funding and social enterprise development)
  • Bill O’keefe orchards (fruit trees)
  • The Ark Native Plants (native plant education, species selection)
  • York Region, Ian Buchanan (Biodiversity strategy and GIS modelling development)

Where will these actions be taken?

Our Future Site for this Program's Pilot site

logoSaugeen First Nation is a first nation community next to Southampton Ontario who will be providing the site and community support for this program as a pilot program.

The cultural context of this First Nation community makes this partnership an ideal chance to base this program on ideas that must be re-incorporated into modern society This community is already keen to be working with traditional techniques of listening and respecting the forest, and learning the stories that are behind products from nature. They would like to provide good work for people in their community and with the help of the partners of this project (that were listed above), we will have the ability to bring much knowledge and experience together to create a lively and robust self sustaining community that is producing items made with respect to the environment, bravery to go into new market territory, wisdom from many fields, love towards the forest, humility because it is a co-operative project, acknowledging the truth of the state of our world, and an honesty in our commitment to reconnecting to the world around us.

Saugeen First Nation Amphitheater overlooking the Saugeen river

Saugeen First Nation Amphitheater overlooking the Saugeen river

In the future, it is hoped that enough experience and knowledge will exist with the participants of this program that there is a group able to encourage and promote the activites of this program in other first nation communities.

How much will emissions be reduced or sequestered vs. business as usual levels?

It is hoped that through partnerships and collaborations with similar project, the FULL VALUE of the ecosystems being restored and protected can be pinpointed according to the PRODUCTIVE VALUE of ecosystems, then paired with the resulting value of localizing the production of resources.

Using GIS mapping technology, characteristics of the land being restored or harvested from will be monitored over time. On the onset of restoration or harvesting, a baseline will be set. Over the duration of activities, Carbon sequestration OR ecosystem restoration values (dollar value or function) will be monitored according to this baseline value that will be paired with the FULL VALUE of PRODUCTIVE ECOSYSTEMS. An algorithm will be developed to represent this (as per one of our communications strategies in order to communicate these concepts in a ‘technical’ model).

What are other key benefits?

  • Food shortages across the region will be minimized
  • degraded farmland will be restored to a functioning ecological system
  • forests will be protected through incentives and community ownership
  • traditional ecological knowledge will be used with modern knowledge
  • local products will be created
  • jobs for youth and adults alike will be created
  • native trees will be reintroduced to the area
  • habitat will be created for wildlife
  • external costs for producing food will be eliminated through using ecological farming practices (analog foresty, forest gardening, agroforestry)
  • youth will be engaged
  • sustainable revenue sources will be forged
  • etc…



  • incentivizing reforestation and sustainable managing through tax credits, conservation easements, or funding made possibly by carbon offsetting
  • alternative small scale, off grid housing on sites to create housing solutions when paired with environmental employment in support of this program
  • alternative revenue streams that will support the funding of this program



What are the proposal’s costs?

 Wage and Salary: Mandy Hutter: research, planning, EPM, lead ($25/hr x 15 months x 55hrs/mo) $         20,625.00 

Project Management: Business planning ($45/hr x 2hrs/mo x 15 mo)  $         16,350.00 

Project Management: Consultant fees (eg. 350 hours @$30/hr)  Subject matter experts on value chain inc. local expertise, resource management, traditional medicinal knowledge  $         39,288.00 

Project Management: Professional fees (accounting: $30/hr x 15 hrs / 4 quarters ($1800);  $         10,800.00

GIS analysis: 40/hr x 10hrs/month x 15 months x 2 people ($9000)Training-GIS update training: $2000x 2 people (ESRI Online training $1450 US + supplemental classes)  $           4,000.00

Minor Capital: Software upgrades (data sets $1000, computer & software $1741.87; GIS system SFN $3995)  $       6736.87

Training for workshops in SFN, eg. MIFTIG, sustainable harvesting, etc  $           5,000.00

Project Management: Victoria Serda: research, planning, carbon market lead ($25/hr X 5 hr/week X 15 mos)  $           7,500.00

Travel costs (see tab #4) $    7,500.00

Research & Studies- carbon markets (report on GHG Inventory $1000, carbon storage calculation research, etc.)   $           8,500.00

Training/education: Conferences and eventsAdministration (8%)  $           2,300.00

Administration (8%)   $           6,504.73

Total Project Costs  $   135,596.90

- in kind donations to date =  $     47,783.00

Total project Costs - in kind:  $     87,813.90

Time line

Year 1-2: Research and planning (Stage 1-6)

Stage 1 

July - August 2014: Invite suitable experts and professionals to take part in public participation discussions to channel interests, outline rural wealth resources, uncover interests in this project’s topic, and allow the public to direct the tangible outcomes of this project. *Public participation meetings will be held every quarter to ensure outcomes of research are in line with community needs.

Stage 2 

Aug - Oct 2014: A series of stakeholder meetings and conversations will be held to create agreements securing endorsements of rural wealth - physical, financial, human, intellectual, natural, social, political, and cultural capital - and to identify suitable economic, institutional, and policy contexts in which to develop a job creation and business incubation strategy that is able to support a non-timber forest product .

Stage 3:

Oct  2014– Mar 2015: Assign subject matter experts and professionals  to research respective themes

Stage 4

Select and assign a board of advisors to direct research.

Stage 5

Mar - Sept 2015: Continue research accordingly. Channel research into structured themes:

Stage 6

 Jan – Mar, Sept – Dec 2015: Active marketing of project.

Dec 2015: Create report containing results of studies that would help to replicate project elsewhere.

Year 2-5

Growth, monitoring, and propogation of suitable plants and seeds as part of greenhouse program.

Collect information on ecosystem services and biodiversity to correlate with NTFP  market values

Year 5-15

Active programming around planting, growing, wild and farmed harvesting, processing and sales of NTFP products

Investigate options for 'returns on investment'

Year 15-100

Active cooperation with (re)forested areas to create work, ensure food security, and restore and protect ecosytems and resulting services

Related proposals

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Funding Farmers for Climate Change Mitigation (F2C2M) *methods for incentivizing and quanitfying activities of this project and participants

Analog forestry: productive conservation to fight deforestation in the Amazon *use of Analog Forestry

Save Kilimanjaro: Carbon Capture. Forest Conservation. Sustainable Communities *Community engagement experience

Climate Stories Project *collecting stories in a digital format to drive project into the future

Environmentally sustainable practices in South Africa: A Social Action Approach *empowering and motivative smalle communities with little/no knowledge of climate change