MacArthur Awards for Creative & Effective Institutions

Forest Trends

Washington, D.C., | 2015 Award Recipient

Bringing the value of forests into the modern economy

Forests and other ecosystems help provide clean air, clean water, habitats for biodiversity, and a stable climate – services that have real economic value. Forest Trends works to develop market-based financial tools and approaches to forest conservation that use this economic value to encourage governments and businesses to preserve ecosystems. It has been able to track transactions totaling $16 to $18 billion per year and growing.

Forest Trends’ message is simple: If we lose the forests, we lose the climate, and if we lose the climate, we lose the economy.

Serving as the connective tissue between the forestry, financial, and energy sectors, government, environmental nonprofits, and indigenous communities, Forest Trends builds best practices, shapes local policy, and advances new conservation initiatives. Forest Trends has developed new policies, initiatives, and institutions that bring environmental conservation into business and governmental decisions. It helped develop Peru’s National Forest Strategy, has engaged the Chinese government on trade practices, worked with Ghana’s private sector to improve agricultural production, and helped create the U.S. Office of Environmental Services.  

Forest Trends focuses on the livelihoods of local communities by enabling indigenous people to participate in environmental markets and benefit from preserving the forests they live in and around. These include payment or compensation mechanisms to local communities to maintain watershed protections or forest cover under a carbon market agreement.

Forest Trends created the Katoomba Group, an international network of specialists working to build market capacity and payments for ecosystem services. It also pioneered a global standard of “no net loss” of biological diversity for development projects globally—the first global biodiversity offset standard of its kind to focus businesses, governments, financial institutions, and civil society on conservation. To build transparent information around these emerging markets, Forest Trends also launched the Ecosystem Marketplace, a global information platform that delivers credible and timely information about ecosystem values and market transactions, similar to how Bloomberg provides insight into the financial markets.

Forest Trends will use its $1 million MacArthur Award to establish a reserve fund and support strategic planning, development, and communications.

Grantee Profile: Learn more about Forest Trends

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