Reforesting the Earth

We have helped Eden Reforestation Projects scale to become one of the largest private reforestation organizations in the world.

Individuals in isolated forest communities are often left with no choice but to cut down trees to source fuel, shelter, and agricultural land. The price for these resources, however, is steep. More than half of all forests worldwide have disappeared in the past century, with an average of 28 million hectares destroyed every year since 2016. Deforestation destabilizes ecosystems causing crop failure, flooding, soil erosion and water table depletion, making it even more challenging to sustain a rural livelihood.  

Our engagement with Eden Reforestation Projects is part of a broader effort to support individuals and organizations advancing sustainability worldwide.

Eden Reforestation Projects, a nonprofit organization based in California, has developed a pioneering way to disrupt the cycle of poverty that contributes to deforestation: pay impacted communities a fair wage for planting and protecting native trees. Planting native crops like citrus, mango, and papaya provide thriving food sources for humans and animals alike, while restoring mangrove forests improves ocean and coral reef health for communities reliant on fishing. Since its founding in 2005, Eden has implemented over 230 projects at different sites in nine developing countries, including Haiti, Indonesia, Madagascar, and Nepal. 

To date, the organization has:

  • Produced and planted more than 700 million trees through its projects
  • Empowered more than 26,000 individuals — 57% of whom are women — with incomes that enables increased autonomy and access to food, education, healthcare, and clean water
  • Sequestered millions of tons of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere
  • Restored critical habitats and ecosystems

Latham has provided pro bono support to Eden on a range of innovative projects. Among these was our work drafting and negotiating a 20-year contribution partnership with Aspiration — an online financial services platform that focuses on charity, sustainability, and the environment — to fund the planting of up 5 billion trees. As part of Aspiration’s Plant Your Change program, Aspiration customers can elect to have credit and debit card purchases rounded up to the nearest dollar. Aspiration plants a tree with every round up, including through Eden.

In addition, Eden looked to our lawyers for help assessing opportunities to monetize carbon sequestration, which is a positive by-product of tree planting. As part of this effort, we have tracked the evolution of the carbon offset markets, especially in light of the Paris Agreement, and worked with registries to identify the appropriate protocols under which Eden should operate. We also assisted Eden to established a subsidiary, Compassionate Carbon LLC, which will allow Eden to enter the carbon markets and manage the generation and sale of carbon offset credits to fund its planting efforts. The team continues to advise Eden on new and amended partner contribution agreements, which fund Eden’s tree planting.

Our support of Eden’s vision has helped the organization to scale faster, raise more money, and, ultimately, plant more trees. The trees, in turn, restore local ecosystems and provide communities with natural resources to sustain economies that support — rather than compete with — the newly replanted forests. 

Latham’s engagement with Eden is part of a broader effort to help individuals and organizations advancing sustainability worldwide. In 2018, we were among the founding law firms of Lawyers for a Sustainable Economy — a first-of-its-kind initiative through which member firms make a formal and substantial commitment to support environmental sustainability through pro bono efforts. Since joining, we have provided more than 18,000 hours of free legal services to a range of nonprofit organizations and social enterprises focused on sustainability.