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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 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. The Synthesis report summarizes the major findings and categorizes them according to the stakeholder type, that is, governments, markets and private sector, and farmers. Five key findings as they pertain to the private sector include:

  • Corporate deforestation and sustainability pledges are important but alone are insufficient to drive large-scale changes in deforestation or tree enhancement
  • An additional, often highly effective private sector contribution to sustainable development in tropical forest regions comes in the form of public-private and buyer-producer partnerships.
  • Sustainability certification does not reach the majority farmers
  • Pay-for-performance systems for REDD are still rare but are energizing governments and communities that are taking definitive policy and programmatic steps to reduce deforestation and forest degradation or to enhance tree cover.
  • Harmonization with government policies and programs is essential. Jurisdictional approaches are making progress in achieving harmonization across policy and practice.

Key messages and recommendations coming out of the Regional Workshop in Ghana on Shea agroforest parklands:

  • Strengthen support for scientific research, innovation, and technology transfer across shea parkland countries
  • Establish a platform for knowledge-based regional collaboration and research partnerships
  • Generate reliable data on agroforest land use, shea tree coverage and quality; and on tree access and land tenure around shea parkland restoration
  • Promote deforestation-free shea processing to address fuelwood extraction from shea parklands
  • Mainstreaming shea as a multipurpose tree commodity, and restoration of agroforest parklands into the primary and secondary education curriculum

At the GLF in Kenya, overall “nearly 1,000 people participated, 13,380 people tuned in live and about 26,000,000 people were reached on social media, with close to 20,000 likes, comments, retweets and shares around the conversation.” The LEAVES session stimulated discussions with a multidisciplinary panel of global experts and attracted a cross-section of participants from regional institutions, development agencies, governments, NGOs, commodity producer associations and private sector.

Some of the intermediate outcomes (interventions and investments) informed by the LEAVES work and dissemination activities is as follows:

  • A proposed investment in Burkina Faso leveraging an additional push for $21m on investment in the shea agroforest landscape
  • LEAVES team was consulted by IFC regarding shea investment in Mali (pipeline project – Mali Shi)
  • FAO sought technical inputs to an ongoing intervention in Ghana
  • GEF-funded regional impact work on ‘Food Security Land Use and Landscape Restoration (FOLUR) impact program’ to be led by the World Bank jointly with the FAO. The LEAVES would be a potential source of technical input. An innovative proposal for a virtual platform (to be housed in the Global Shea Alliance) for systematic and sustained collaboration among shea countries has been tabled with shot of funds. 

From Ghana: The 2-day regional dissemination workshop organized in Tamale, Ghana from September 12-14, 2018.  Eight countries (Burkina Faso, Benin, Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, Mali, Nigeria, Togo and Uganda) from across the shea agroforestry belt and partner institutions including the African Union Commission, the UNDP and FAO attended:  

Participants representing Governments, research experts and private sector agreed that shea agroforestry landscape is critically important for sustainable local livelihoods but are threatened by degradation from agriculture, urbanization and other activities. Across all 8 countries, participants were keen to sustain the dialogue including forming a consultative group that would meet both virtually and face-to-face. Cote d’Ivoire expressed interest to host the first of such face-to-face meetings. The workshop has helped to emphasize need for scientific research, knowledge-based partnerships and regional collaboration to restore the shea agroforestry parkland productivity, improve food security, and secure sustainable jobs for women and youth in this fragile landscape. 

The outputs from the workshop, as captured in a summary report, will inform discussions between national governments and the World Bank Global Practices, and Country Management Units regarding any potential integrated regional World Bank and GEF intervention in this landscape.

The workshop strengthened network among governments, national governments, private sector, FAO, UNDP, African Union Commission and the Global Shea Alliance around innovative and collaborative approaches to restoration across the shea agroforestry landscape.

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Last Updated : 06-09-2019