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Ghanaian Project Teaches the Economic Benefits of Letting Trees Stand

Wellington Baiden calls his lush, 85-hectare forest a “green supermarket” — it produces fish, wood products, seedlings, fruits, and essential oils. Baiden grows a range of trees, some fast-growing, many indigenous and endangered trees – as well as aromatic plants that produce natural oils used in perfumes. While forestry is usually a long-term project, where the income comes with the harvest, Portal Forest Estates generates income both in the short and long term. Baiden is starting to harvest the trees he planted 20 years ago, but he’s replacing them and creating other businesses within the forest to ensure its future and benefit to the surrounding communities — which he says is the key to sustainability. One of Baiden’s products is natural oils and is working with local farmers to grow plants like ylang-ylang and citronella, whose oils he can sell on international markets. Baiden is also planning a bigger distillery and an eco-resort and learning center within the forest.  He says the learning center will train farmers and educate visitors about the forest project. He wants it to inspire people to see the benefits in sustainable forests, creating what he calls “wealth in perpetuity.”