FAQs

Project Design
  • Our vision is to sustain our world with trees by integrating thriving human, environmental, and economic solutions. 

    Mitigating climate change requires significantly reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and removing the gasses already in the atmosphere. Trees are a readily accessible, cost-effective, nature-based solution for solving this problem. They absorb CO2 and store it in their wood, stabilize local ecosystems, improve local soils, help manage and regenerate local water systems, and provide food security. Unfortunately, 18.7 million acres of forest are lost every year. Poor farming practices have depleted 75% of agricultural land (including in developed nations); this is expected to rise to 90% by 2050. Depletion often leads to desertification, which is proceeding at 50 acres per minute.  Fires, floods, hurricanes, and droughts are creating destruction and famine estimated to cost $54 trillion by 2050.

    Studies have shown that the regrowing of hundreds of billions of trees could have a significant impact on climate change. The time to act is now.

  • Scientists, environmentalists, farmers, corporations, philanthropists, supply chains, governments, and investors agree: Deforestation is a serious environmental, social, and economic problem. Greenhouse gas emissions and the urgent need to sequester them with nature-based solutions (NBS) is also widely acknowledged. The issue that skeptics of massive tree-growing projects have, as we understand it, is that poorly designed projects could do more harm than good. Or could fail. We agree.

    Spades’ solutions overcome these challenges with SmartTree™: sustainable forests via different trees grown differently.

    We created the recipe for a sustainable forest:

    • Terrazone finds the fit between people and land, deconflicting competing interests for sustainable and increased results
    • Ecofit biotechnology helps select the right tree for the current and future environments

    Finance and accountability for socially responsible investing (SRI) that meets environmental, social, and governance criteria is available through:

    Localization of projects puts skilled, knowledgeable resources on the ground when and where they’re needed:

    • Spades’ regreening partners already regrow most of the trees globally, over 250 million per year
    • They have unique skills in key areas like mine recovery, blue carbon, arid land solutions, stump recovery, and more
    • They know the local face, including community resources and leaders, government officials, smallholder farmers, pastoral peoples, labor pool, and others
  • Spades’ reforestation and habitat restoration projects vary widely based on objectives and land-use opportunities. They include, but are not limited to:

    • Growing projects: Agroforestry, sustainable agriculture, Assisted Natural Regeneration (ANR), Farmer-Managed Natural Regeneration (FMNR)
    • Local community needs: Renewable fuel, sustainable timber, fruits, nuts, medicinals
    • Ecosystems: Arid land solutions, biodiverse forest habitats, blue carbon, sea trees, grasslands
    • Landscape restoration: Natural landscapes destroyed by deforestation, mine recovery, climate change
    • Carbon offsets

    Please see our Project Design and Terrazone publications for project design examples.

    Use this form to submit a project design idea.

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    Name*
  • Terrazone maximizes integrated landscape management, or ILM, to address landscape degradation caused by climate change, poor land-management practices, exploitation of the environment, extreme weather, and diminishing biodiversity. Restoring vital ecosystems, Terrazone is an effective solution for parties with vision and strategies for UN Sustainable Development Goals targeting:

    • Agricultural productivity and incomes of small-scale food producers, in particular women, indigenous peoples, family farmers, pastoralists, and fishers.
    • Sustainable food production systems and resilient agricultural practices that increase productivity and production, help maintain ecosystems, strengthen capacity for adaptation to climate change, extreme weather, drought, flooding and other disasters, and progressively improve land and soil quality.
    •  Sustainable management and efficient use of natural resources.
    • Desertification, degraded land and soil, including land affected by desertification, drought and floods.
  • Spades does not purchase land. Our projects are on government-owned, organization-owned, or private land. We sign agreements with stakeholders to secure the long-term protection and monitoring of the trees.

  • Agroforestry is a land-use management practice that integrates crop and animal farming with trees, shrubs, or perennials to create environmental, economic, and social benefits. It is practiced worldwide. It must satisfy the following requirements to be considered agroforestry: integrated, intentional, intensive, and interactive. Common forms of agroforestry include:

    • Alley cropping: planting crops between rows of trees
    • Forest farming (aka multi-story cropping): growing food, herbal, botanical, or decorative crops under a canopy
    • Silvopasture: combining trees with livestock and their forages; trees may produce fruits, nuts, or timber as well as shade and shelter
    • Windbreaks: shelter crops, animals, buildings, and soil
    • Riparian forest buffers: filter runoff along rivers and streams

    Other terms used in agroforestry include:

    • Pastoral: land or farm used for or related to the keeping or grazing of sheep or cattle.
    • Agropastoral: of or relating to a practice of agriculture that includes both the growing of crops and the raising of livestock
    • Ranch: a large farm or land devoted to raising animals such as horses, beef cattle, sheep, or goats

    Agroforestry provides many benefits beyond carbon sequestration, including:

    • Improved soil health and air quality
    • Lower water needs and better water quality
    • Improved pest control
    • Better pollination by diverse pollinators
    • Diversified or alternative income streams (variety of assets, e.g., flowers, oils, spices and herbs, coffee cherries, mushrooms, nuts, wood, fibers)
    • Reduced soil erosion
    • Aid in reclaiming fragile or marginal lands for productive purposes
  • Spades is a strong advocate of agroforestry and includes it in integrated landscape zones.

  • Growers and nations use a variety of planting methods, among them bare-root transfers, Assisted Natural Regeneration (ANR), Farmer-Managed Natural Regeneration (FMNR), seed balls, nursery seedlings, and mangrove propagule planting.

  • We emphasize growth because it is our desire to create sustainable wins for people, the environment, and economics.

    Anyone can plant a tree, anywhere. What matters for long-term sustainability is the ecological fit of the trees. Plantation apple farmers, for example, know that most apples require cross-pollination from a different variety of the same fruit species to produce a crop, otherwise, they’re doomed to fail. Tree selection is critical. We consider the goals and objectives of a specific project to select the tree species that will have the greatest impact and offer the greatest value for the surrounding environment, people, and economy. Selection takes into account climate change because former adapted species may no longer thrive in current conditions. Terrain, heat and cold, availability of water, and soil are evaluated, as are a species’ ecosystem needs, such as its position in a canopy, native habitats, and soil type(s). If trees are not fit for their environment, growth and survival are seriously jeopardized. Investments are put at greater risk.

    See Ecofit.

  • Ecofit biotechnology predicts tree species growth success based on research results across 400 species in 30 ecosystems.

    There is no single solution to monitor restoration efforts, time from planning, to planting, and through tree maturation. Therefore, Spades integrates best-of-breed solutions from each required area, including innovative geospatial AI to geospatial surveys, mapping and GIS, and data and analytics, and bundles them as part of the offering in each project. World-class Saas and TaaS platforms verify performance against standards and agreed-upon contracts, tracks results, and reports to all stakeholders.

    • SaaS: Software as a Service, or SaaS, is a way of delivering critical software services over the internet, as a service instead of a product. Other names for it are hosted software, on-demand software, and web-based software. The applications run on the SaaS provider’s servers so its customers do not have to purchase hardware or software; all that is needed is an internet connection and a license or subscription to use the software.
    • TaaS: Technology as a Service, or TaaS, allows technology and tech-related business services to be outsourced. Often arranged as a subscription-based payment model, different from a lease or license, it provides access to critical, high-performing functions and/or applications. The benefit of using TaaS apps are that they are specialized, comprehensive, flexible, scalable, and complement Spades’ strengths. Tracking-as-a-Service is also a type of TaaS used by Spades.
    • 1 hectare = 10,000 square meters, 2.471 acres, or 107, 637 square feet
    • 1 acre = 0.404686 hectares, or 43560 square feet, or 4046.86 square meters
    • 1 million hectares = 2,471,050 acres or 10,000,000,000 square meters
    • 1 million acres = 404,686 hectares or 4,046,860,000 square meters

    A hectare is a common unit of the metric system used to measure land in many places around the world, especially for land ownership, agriculture, and forestry. The acre measurement unit is used in the U.S.A. and in Imperial systems.

Finance
  • Spades’ projects are widely diverse, from tropical to temperate, coastlines to highlands, and across economic spectrums. The design and scope of every project dictate its requirements and the level of investment required.

  • Members of the Spades’ team have spent decades working in blended capital, impact investing, and large investments.

  • Investing in trees has much in common with other major investments. They create numerous tangible assets, all investable and some highly so. Any one of these assets can justify the needed investment. By combining them, risk-adjusted returns can become extremely attractive. This is fortunate because it can attract serious investment to reforesting the world and thereby saving the planet.

    All stakeholders, including investors, asset contributors, and supply chains expect reliable and meaningful returns. The significant assets created by trees allow for all participants to benefit. Read Project Structures and Returns to learn more.

  • Trees and forests vary widely in the amount of carbon they can store. Climate, species composition, disturbance history, size of the forest, and other factors must all be taken into consideration. The United States Environmental Protection Agency estimates that a medium growth coniferous or deciduous tree, planted in an urban setting and allowed to grow for 10 years, sequesters 23.2 and 38.0 lbs of carbon, respectively. The same agency, for a managed forest over 20 years, reports an average of 200 metric tons of carbon is stored per hectare. This is consistent with the results of our growing partner, WeForest, who reports their estimated carbon storage potential after 20-30 years of restoration ranges between 140 to 317 t CO2 per hectare. Redwood forests store over 2,500 t of carbon per hectare. Mangrove forests typically hold 335 t of carbon per hectare although a forest in the Yukatan Peninsula reportedly stockpiled up to about 2,800 metric tons of carbon per hectare in the soil.

    Our publication, Carbon Offsets: Monetizing Regreening for Climate Mitigation, provides an overview of carbon cap-and-trade compliance markets, the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), voluntary carbon markets, add-on credits, and tree-carbon financial examples for habitats, FMNR, timber, orchards, and mangroves. Read Balanced Finance: Capturing an Opportunity, for information on growth carbon, protected carbon, blue carbon, sustainable timber, agroforestry, and other forest-related asset classes beyond carbon.

  • The capitalization structure supports a spectrum of investors, including corporations, governments, development finance institutions, philanthropic organizations, high-net-worth individuals, private equity, venture capital, bonds, and others. Learn about Spades’ capitalization structure in Balanced Finance: Capturing an Opportunity and in Project Structures and Returns.

  • We appreciate the kind offer, however, Spades is a for-profit organization so donations are not tax-deductible. We can, however, accept charitable contributions through our nonprofit sister organization, Cheetah Development. Donations can be mailed to Cheetah Development, 4420 Vandervork Ave Minneapolis MN 55436-1431. Minneapolis, MN 55436.

Partnerships & Networks
  • We work in partnership with large tree regrowers around the world to accelerate the pace of regreening while supporting communities and providing financial returns that are shared by investors and stakeholders. A key role for Spades is to help design projects that are attractive to investors and to monitor the results for multiple decades.

  • We seek to partner with organizations that have a track record of successfully regrowing millions of trees over several years. We are interested in participating in the design concept phase of projects that could scale to ten million trees in one location in the upcoming years, with habitat protection.

    If this describes your organization and project, please complete this form or email Joy Hazucha@spades.life to describe your accomplishments and your project concept.

  • A list of our regreening partners and others in our network can be found on our Partners page. Specific projects are announced on the Projects and Opportunities page as permission to post new activities is received.

  • We are interested in projects anywhere in the world where regrowing trees can have a positive impact. This requires a minimum of ten million trees in one location over several years.

    We would be delighted to review projects that meet these requirements. Please submit project inquiries in the form. Include location, size, and objectives of the project. Thank you.

  • We are interested in projects where regrowing trees can have a positive impact, with a minimum of ten million trees in one location over several years. We can help design it to appeal to investors, and we can help raise funds for those that meet the requirements.

    Inquiries about starting or raising funding for new projects should be made below. Please include location, size, and objectives of the project. Formal RFPs are not required.

  • We are pleased to learn of your interest in volunteering. Our world needs people who care for it and others. Please tell us about your volunteer idea, including your related experience, by completing this form.  A member of our team will contact you.

Governance
  • Spades is a registered ‘specific benefit corporation’ committed to creating societal value and economic profit. We elect to pursue the following public benefit purpose: Remediate climate conditions through the growing of plants, especially trees, for the purposes of sequestering carbon and these related activities:

    1. Restore ecosystems, biodiversity, and soil
    2. Regenerate water systems including mitigating desertification
    3. Nurture communities while addressing mindsets
    4. Empower smallholder/subsistence farmers
    5. Rejoin forestry and agriculture
    6. Cultivate economic development
    7. Establish a multigenerational legacy impact
  • Spades Conflict of Interest Policy protects this organization’s interest when it is contemplating entering into a transaction or arrangement that might benefit the private interest of an officer or director of the Organization or might result in a possible excess benefit transaction. This policy is intended to supplement but not replace any applicable state and federal laws governing conflict of interest applicable to for-profit benefit corporations. This policy applies to all companies worldwide wherein Spades, SBC has management control or controlling shares.

  • Spades’ Corporate Bylaws can be accessed here.

  • In keeping with its values of justice, trueness, and transparency, Spades is committed to high standards of ethical, moral, and legal business conduct. Spades is further dedicated to acting in good faith with those employees, contractors, and volunteers who raise concerns regarding incorrect financial reporting, unlawful activity, or otherwise improper conduct. This Whistleblower Policy aims to provide employees, contractors and volunteers with an avenue for raising such concerns, and to reassure such persons that they will be protected from reprisal or victimization as a consequence of reporting the alleged wrongdoing of any officer, director, employee, or agent of Spades.

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