A project between ConocoPhillips and the non-government organisation (NGO) Santalum, established in 2008, delivered a reforestation project that involved the planting of more than 10,000 seedlings in Tasi Tolu to prevent soil erosion.

The ongoing dedication and commitment of Santalum staff and volunteers means that the trees are cared for and maintained on a daily basis, leading to an 85% success rate. The area has been transformed from a rocky hilltop to a location lush in trees and shrubs. The success of the project prompted ConocoPhillips and Santalum to embark on a second reforestation project, planting 3,000 trees along a flat coastal area at the base of the original site.

Adalberto de Araujo, Director of Santalum, is proud of the success of the reforestation program that is restoring the environment through seed preparation and tree planting. He speaks of both the need for ecological re-building, and the benefits that the Santalum program is delivery to the economy. "Timorese people want to develop the country; this program is good for employment." Adalberto says. He lists as one of the challenges the supply of water to the hilly region, a problem that has been alleviated through the repairing of roads, enabling water tanks to ascend the hill.

Adalberto is eager for the project to continue. "We want to minimise the burning of the trees, continue reforestation and management of the reforestation," he says. The project provides employment for Miquel de Deuz, who manages security for the plantation, ensuring animals or people don’t destroy the seedlings or trees. "I really want to look after this place," Miquel says.