MacArthur Foundation Award for Creative and Effective Institutions
Schwab Foundation Social Entrepreneur
Skoll Foundation Award for Social Entrepreneurship
US Forest Service Chief’s Global Stewardship Award
For two decades, Forest Trends has pioneered the idea that creating economic value in our forests and natural ecosystems is one of the most powerful incentives for sustaining them.
Traditional markets and financial systems fail to fully value all of the ways we benefit from a healthy planet. Forests and other ecosystems clean our air, provide natural protection against floods, and enrich the soil. When we fail to value these benefits, we waste and degrade critical natural assets.
Our mission is to work with communities, governments, and businesses to more fully embed conservation into economic activity and prevent the destruction that comes from badly planned, unsustainable resource allocation and development.
Through our work, Forest Trends has demonstrated that the preservation of natural assets yields much greater long-term economic and societal benefits than the economic activities that damage these natural assets for short-term profit.
Read our Strategic Plan to learn more about how Forest Trends applies these approaches in everything we do. You can also explore our history here, and learn how our eight initiatives function together to create an economy that works for a healthy planet, rather than at its expense.
How We Work
We work a little differently than other organizations. By staying nimble, entrepreneurial, and committed to building strong coalitions, we can act quickly and with maximum impact when and where opportunities arise. We are:
Incubators of the Next Big Idea
We specialize in demonstrating and disseminating cutting-edge business models, tools, and strategies for conservation. We created the first global standard for biodiversity offsets. We provided critical bridge capital for the survival of the Forest Stewardship Council in its infancy. We partnered with the Surui people of Brazil to launch the world’s first indigenous carbon offset project. Our Incubator for Ecosystem Services laid the groundwork for Peru’s efforts to transform its water sector with a permanent funding mechanism to ensure utilities safeguard vital watersheds and adapt to climate change. We also founded and later spun off two new organizations: (1) the Rights and Resources Initiative, which supports a global network advocating for land and forest rights of indigenous people and local communities, and (2) EcoAgriculture Partners, a champion of strategies for integrated landscape management.
For 20 years, we’ve been convening diverse coalitions, partners, and communities of practice that have shaped policy in China, Brazil, India, Uganda, Ghana, Peru, Vietnam, the EU, and the United States. Our flagship Katoomba Group was catalytic in the development of the World Bank’s BioCarbon Fund and Mexico’s national payments for ecosystem services fund. We’re also responsible for opening up the dialogue with the Chinese government on China’s imports of illegally harvested logs.
Transparent information is key to creating environmental markets and shifting to a green global economy. Our Ecosystem Marketplace and Supply Change programs are widely recognized as the gold standard for tracking environmental markets, innovative conservation finance, and corporate action on sustainability and protecting natural assets. High-level government decision-makers in places such as China and the EU rely on our data and analysis of the global trade of timber and other forest products in their policymaking and enforcement.
Beginning in 1996, a small group of leaders from the forest industry, philanthropic community, and environmental groups began to meet to consider the array of challenges facing forest conservation and to identify common ground. Participants in these meetings recognized the respective contributions and limits of their own institutions and decided to create a new organization, Forest Trends, to expand this work of bridging traditional divides and promoting market-based approaches to forest conservation.
In 1998, the group agreed on an organizational model for the new organization. Forest Trends would be a small, nimble, and responsive non-profit organization with three principal roles: convening market players to advance market transformations, generating and disseminating critical information to market players, and facilitating deals between different critical links in the value chains of new forestry.
The original group of participants was expanded to include additional representatives from industry, finance, and conservation. This enlarged group became the original Board of Directors. The Board was expanded in late 1999 to include representatives from other major forested regions besides the United States, including Russia, Brazil, Malaysia, and Canada.
Our history, our Board, and our focus on market approaches are Forest Trends’ unique strengths. The Board is unusual in that it reflects the wide diversity of opinions and interests active in global forest issues, yet is bound by the common desire to increase the contribution of markets to forest conservation and the livelihoods of people.
This unique combination of diversity and common ground enables our organization to better understand the issues and trade-offs associated with different perspectives, and to provide leadership for reconciliation. It also establishes a powerful platform from which Forest Trends can survey the horizon for emerging issues and opportunities.