Upscaling innovative ‘planting-baskets’ to restore landscape diversity and enhance climate-resilient livelihoods

IIED and partners aim to show and spread opportunities in Belize for growing more novel combinations of local foodplants, spices and CITES-listed trees within smallholder agroforestry, while collecting baseline data on biodiversity and climate-resilient livelihoods.

Began April 2023
Duncan Macqueen

Director of forests, Natural Resources research group

Localising forest-climate action
A programme of work engaging with locally-controlled forestry organisations to upscale effective climate change adaptation, resilience and mitigation through the restoration of forest landscape biodiversity
Man standing next to a tree.

Edgar, one of the many farmers in Cayo district who are receiving horticulture training and 50 plants of 20-30 species for enriched agroforestry systems (Photo: Duncan Macqueen, IIED)

The Selva Maya biodiversity hotspot in Belize is being degraded by unsustainable agricultural practices exacerbated by increasing poverty and food insecurity among subsistence farmers. 

Adapting 'planting basket' ideas originally developed for backyard gardening, this project will test and develop larger agroforestry planting baskets at the farm level. It will install innovative planting combinations of nutritious native foodplants, spices and trees listed by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of wild fauna and flora (CITES). These foodplants, spices and trees provide greater food security and possible livelihood benefits.

The project is led by the University of Edinburgh, the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh and IIED together with the Belize Botanic Garden, Galen University, Mopan Technical College and Friends for Conservation and Development in Belize. 

The aim of the work is to widen the adoption of these restorative practices by improving public understanding of the benefits of diverse native planting and providing training and resources. 

This includes broadening the botanic knowledge of the Belize Botanic Garden, establishing agroforestry demonstration plots in four locations, engaging farmers and backyard gardeners to improve their plant propagation and management skills for agroforestry, and promoting biodiversity restoration practices and climate-resilient livelihoods. 

What is IIED doing?

IIED is supporting partners with surveys to better understand farmers’ present growing systems and the livelihood benefits they may expect, and discuss the importance of organisation in spreading the benefits of agroforestry and diversifying production. 

The institute will also help to reflect and share examples from other countries of the importance of diversification for climate resilience, and mentor partner NGOs in strategies and tactics that forest and farm producer organisations are using globally to manage and enhance agrobiodiversity through the development of agroforestry models. 

IIED will also highlight the potential of upscaling restoration through agroforestry within Belize’s National Landscape Restoration Strategy, and work with Belize’s departments of forestry and agriculture to explore how best to further the intentions and implementation of the country’s agroforestry policy.