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Leveraging Agricultural Value Chains to Enhance Tropical Tree Cover and Slow Deforestation (LEAVES)


This program activity is a collaborative effort between two World Bank Global Practices: Agriculture and Environment. It aims aims to transform agricultural value chains that are driving tropical forest conversion and the loss of tree cover into value chains that conserve existing tropical forests and enhance tree cover in agricultural landscapes. It will inform multiple stakeholders involved in specific value chains that are linked with tropical forest conversion of successful private and public sector interventions that can result in the reduction of deforestation and potentially increase the use of trees on farms.


According to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), agriculture is the leading driver of increasing tropical deforestation (2016). With large areas of cheap land, relatively low labor costs, and a year-round growing season, tropical forests have become a favored location for large-scale industrial commodity production. Beef is the largest driver of tropical deforestation by far, followed by soy (much of which is an input into beef and dairy), and palm oil. Together, these commodities contribute to an estimated 4 million hectares of tropical deforestation per year. Looking ahead, and underscoring the urgency of addressing deforestation, population increase is projected to significantly accelerate tropical deforestation and degradation. Between 2010 and 2050, the demand for crops is projected to increase by 70 percent and the demand for meat and dairy is projected to rise by 80-90 percent. To make good on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), we will need to profoundly transform the value chains of commodities that disproportionately drive forest loss and degradation.

A forest-smart, multisector or landscape approach considers forests and the services they provide to be key elements of the SDG Agenda. This translates into decisions on land use that seek to minimize or mitigate negative impacts on forests and enhance their positive contributions to other sectors, such as agriculture. Greater attention to the role of forests in national development strategies can provide benefits for long term food security, poverty reduction, social development, and green growth. New supply chain interventions, such as Brazil’s call for companies to stop sourcing from farms with recent forest clearing, offer promise to reduce deforestation from expansion of commercial agriculture.  Therefore, deforestation and economic growth can be decoupled and increased agricultural value does not have to come at the expense of forests.


PROFOR is designing a program that will contribute to promoting an understanding how agricultural value chains can play a positive role in tropical forest conservation and tree cover restoration and enhancement. It will specifically inform the focus and design of large-scale public sector programs that interact with value chains to help bring about tree-enhancing agricultural landscapes. 

While the program will focus on agricultural value chains, it will involve two streams of investigation:

  • The first stream will look at the farming on the tropical “forest frontier” and ask: How can the public sector enable agricultural value chains to become part of the REDD+ solution, and not just part of the problem—especially for those commodities such as beef, soy, palm oil, rubber, cocoa, and coffee that are known to be putting the most pressure on tropical forests?
  • The second stream will be concerned with “trees on farms” and ask: How can the public sector support the planting of trees on and around farms on a grander scale to help promote tree cover?

Under these two thematic streams, the program will set in motion a variety of activities, organized under the three following pillars:

  1. Generation of knowledge products: The program will develop case studies and policy notes to (a) bring out and discuss the effectiveness of public sector roles and their interactions with others, and (b) derive practical lessons that can be applied in new contexts.
  2. Client-driven analytics: Activities will be driven by country teams and/or the needs of government agencies and include support for ongoing country dialogue, a client’s request for advisory services, ongoing lending project design, or preparatory analysis and diagnostics.
  3. In-person exchanges: The program will curate virtual and in-person events that convene stakeholders and facilitate targeted and meaningful exchange, including workshops, BBLs, in-person courses/trainings, webinars, and study tours.

The program will initially focus on the following commodity value chains:

•          Forest frontier: beef, soy, and palm oil

•          Trees on farms: shea trees, shade-grown coffee, and silvopastoral systems

At its core, the program will serve as an expertise-building and knowledge-brokerage function at the service of project leaders and policy makers (inside and outside the World Bank), government officials, and agricultural value chain stakeholders at large. With a focus on the agricultural commodities that are driving deforestation and degradation, the program will equip these actors with the operational knowledge they need to scale up and scale out successful approaches to leverage agricultural value chains to protect and enhance tree cover in tropical forest countries.  


1. A series of background papers and policy briefs on the focus commodities have been produced and were informed by an knowedge-sharing workshop held in January 2018 and May 2018.

2. A synthesis paper has been completed based on the working papers and workshop. 

3. LEAVES regional dissemination workshop was organized in Northern Region, Ghana, on September 12-14, with participation from 8 in the Shea belt, including Burkina Faso, Benin, Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, Mali, Nigeria, Togo, and Uganda. The workshop titled, “Shea parklands productivity – turning Sahel women’s gold into cash, jobs and growth” convened participants from policy makers and officials from ministries of forests, Agriculture; and development and planning, tree crop and food nutrition researchers, academia and private sector to disseminate the key findings from the Shea case study and foster knowledge-based partnerships and regional collaboration towards restoring shea agroforest parkland productivity, food security and sustainable jobs for women and youth in this fragile ecological landscape.

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Last Updated : 02-27-2019