ILWS - Charles Sturt University
ILWS - Charles Sturt University

Community reforestation for biodiversity and livelihood diversification in Timor-Leste (2017-2021)


UK Darwin Initiative Fund, $528,703


Dr Joanne Millar, Dr Jennifer Bond, Mr Jorge Ramos (ILWS) and Dr Graeme Gillespie, from NT Department of Environment and Natural Resources

Research Theme

Sustainable Development (International)


Project site in Laclubar, Timor LesteTimor-Leste is one of the poorest countries in Southeast  Asia with more than 80% of its population reliant on subsistence agriculture. A decline in agricultural productivity resulted from slash and burn practices has forced farmers to clear additional forest remnants and shift agricultural activities to new areas. Deforestation and land degradation in Laclubar and Soibada sub-districts of Manatuto district have resulted in biodiversity loss, soil erosion and proliferation of invasive species.

This project aims to create a mechanism that enhances the biodiversity and livelihoods in Timor-Leste through the expansion of community led reforestation that integrates agroforestry, farmer-managed natural regeneration, biodiversity conservation and carbon payments through an internationally recognised carbon accreditation scheme.

The project, which commenced in July 2017, is focused on two farming communities (210 families) in the central mountain area of Laclubar in Timor-Leste. Indigenous knowledge and Timorese customary law (Tara Bandu) is guiding project activities to ensure alignment with community values and goals.

Partners include:

  • Group Training Northern Territory (GTNT) who will facilitate carbon monitoring, accreditation and sales;
  • World Vision International which will facilitate farmer managed regeneration; and
  • Raebia, a local NGO, will assist with agrofrestry development.

An integrated research project, the project has environmental, social and educational components.  Dr Joanne Millar and Dr Jennifer Bond will carry out social research on farmer learning and livelihood impacts; Dr Graeme Gillespie will conduct biodiversity surveys and educational activities. Jorge Ramos, a forestry researcher, will coordinate the project's activities and organise the carbon accreditation.

The project is helping to achieve six Global Goals for Sustainable Development (SDGs) namely no poverty, zero hunger, quality education, gender equality, climate action and life on land.

Timor Leste Community Reforestation Project:


Annual Report 2019 pdf 2MB

Half Year Report 2018 pdf

Baseline Household Survey Results 2017 pdf 1 MB

Project Idea Note pdf

Ramos, J. & Millar, J. (2019) Facilitating transition from degraded commons to reforested land and better livelihoods using voluntary carbon schemes: Lessons from Timor-Leste. Paper presented at the XVII International Association for Study of the Commons Conference Lima, Peru, July 2-5. pdf 1MB

Sarmento, A., Ramos, J.Millar, J. (2019) Community forest carbon schemes in Timor Leste: 20 years on. Paper presented at the Timor Studies Association Conference, June 27-29.

Bond, J., Millar, J., & Ramos, J. (2020). Livelihood benefits and challenges of community reforestation in Timor Leste: Implications for smallholder carbon forestry schemes. Forests Trees and Livelihoods, 29(3), 187-204.


Combining feasible voluntary smallholder carbon payment schemes with agroforestry, biodiversity conservation, reforestation and customary law is a new concept for Timor Leste. The project is expected to enhance biodiversity and livelihoods in Timor Leste and provide valuable lessons for national and international biodiversity conservation and development programs.


Dr Joanne Millar


July 2019