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Timberland Releases Documentary About Haiti Reforestation

Timberland this week released a documentary film, “Kombit: The Cooperative,” chronicling its five-year project to reforest Haiti.

Since 2010, the footwear brand has worked in partnership with the Smallholder Farmers Alliance (SFA) to plant five million trees in Haiti in five years, part of the company’s Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) commitment aimed at reversing the country’s dangerous decline in tree populations.

That commitment has resulted in the development of a large-scale, self-sustaining agroforestry program owned and operated by smallholder farmers. The farmers voluntarily tend to a network of nurseries that produce one million trees annually, and in return farmers receive training, crop seeds, seedlings and tools that help restore tree cover and increase the farmers’ own crop yields – a mutually beneficial and sustainable cycle. The program holds special importance in Haiti where 2.1 million people are employed in small-scale farming.

Margaret Morey-Reuner, director of strategic partnerships, business development and values marketing at Timberland, said, “We saw a huge opportunity to match our tree planting mission with Haiti’s reforestation needs, but any solution we wanted to support couldn’t be contingent on a donor-based model anchored by perpetual funding.”

She continued, “So we challenged our partners, who eventually founded the SFA, to create something that would have a lasting positive impact for the people of Haiti, beyond just writing checks. They successfully worked with us to create a sustainable, long-term solution that would actually make a difference.”

This self-sustaining business model has helped 3,200 farmers increase productivity on their farmlands an average of 50 percent, resulting in an average increased household income of 50 percent. The program has also resulted in increased access to education and healthcare, including an estimated 3,400 additional children of SFA members placed in school. Most recently, the development of an export model for a new “superfood,” the moringa plant, is underway with the U.S. brand Kuli Kuli.

Timberland collaborated on this film with Found Object, a company that creates content for socially-conscious companies and non-profits. “Kombit: The Cooperative” can be viewed online, with all net proceeds benefiting SFA.