Pressroom  >  Press Releases  >  Forest Trends Wins MacArthur Foundation Award

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Genevieve Bennett
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Washington DC, February 5, 2015 – Forest Trends is one of nine nonprofit organizations around the world to receive the 2015 MacArthur Award for Creative and Effective Institutions. The Award, which was announced today, recognizes exceptional nonprofit organizations who have demonstrated creativity and impact, and invests in their long-term sustainability with sizable one-time grants.

For more than 15 years, Forest Trends has been developing market-based financial tools and approaches to forest conservation so that benefits from nature, such as clean air and clean water, are reflected in real economic values. Forest Trends’ message is simple: If we lose the forests, we lose the climate, and if we lose the climate, we lose the economy.

Forest Trends serves as the connective tissue between government, businesses, financial institutions, environmental non-profits, and indigenous communities. As such Forest Trends has developed new policies, initiatives, and institutions that bring environmental conservation into business and governmental decisions. Among other far-reaching work over the years, the organization has collaborated on Peru’s National Forest Strategy, engaged the Chinese government on trade practices, worked with Ghana’s private sector to improve agricultural production, and helped create the US Office of Environmental Services at the US Department of Agriculture.

A central piece of Forest Trends’ work is to enable indigenous people to participate in environmental markets and benefit from preserving the forests in which they live — rather than sell off the trees to interests that would have them clear-cut the forests. In the Brazilian Amazon, for example, Forest Trends worked with the Paiter Surui people to measure and record the carbon stored in the forest they have maintained for decades. With such data and the carbon credits measured, the community was able to enter into the international carbon offset markets. This deal marked the first time an indigenous community earned carbon credits under internationally recognized standards.

“When we started Forest Trends our goal was to of create incentives around ecosystem services, to make standing tropical forest more valuable than an acre of soybeans,” says Michael Jenkins, President and CEO of Forest Trends. “For this to happen, we have to create new marketplaces; we bring together environmental groups, businesses, the governments, the local communities, the financial institutions—everybody that needs to be together to build this new economic system, this new market.”

To make that a reality, you are really creating new market places.

“Forest Trends leverages the real economic value of forests and ecosystems, motivating governments and businesses to make conservation a top priority,” said MacArthur Vice President Elspeth Revere, who leads the awards program. “MacArthur applauds Forest Trend’s creativity and effectiveness, and we hope this recognition and investment will help sustain its work and expand its impact.”

According to MacArthur, the Award is not only recognition for past leadership and success but also an investment in the future. Forest Trends will use its $1 million MacArthur Award for Creative and Effective Institutions to further increase its impact over the next 15 years. The funds will support the strategic planning process for the next five years and strengthen the organization’s capacity for outreach, especially to communicate Forest Trends’ unique approach to conservation more widely and effectively.

For these Awards, the Foundation does not seek or accept nominations. To qualify, organizations must demonstrate exceptional creativity and effectiveness; have reached a critical or strategic point in their development; show strong leadership and stable financial management; have previously received MacArthur support; and engage in work central to one of MacArthur’s core programs.