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  • Awarded: 2010
  • Issue Areas: Arresting Deforestation · Environmental Sustainability · Livelihoods · Ocean Ecosystems · Peace · Responsible Supply Chains · Sustainable Markets · Water Management
  • Countries Served: Brazil · China · Madagascar · Mexico · Peru · Uganda
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    About the Organization

    Forest Trends is a Washington, DC-based international non-profit organization that was created in 1998 by leaders from conservation organizations, forest products firms, research groups, multilateral development banks, private investment funds, and philanthropic foundations.

    Forest Trends’ mission is to maintain, restore, and enhance forests and connected natural ecosystems, which provide life-sustaining processes, by promoting incentives stemming from a broad range of ecosystem services and products.

    Specifically, Forest Trends seeks to catalyze the development of integrated carbon, water, and biodiversity incentives that deliver real conservation outcomes and benefits to local communities and other stewards of our natural resources.

    Forest Trends analyzes strategic market and policy issues; catalyzes connections between producers, communities and investors; and develops new financial tools to help markets work for conservation and people.

    Their approach integrates the fundamental dimensions of ecology, economy, and equity. Their goal is to have an impact on a scale that is meaningful globally and for a diverse set of stakeholders.

    Deforestation persists in part because people living in remote and pristine areas lack other income-generating options, which in turn results in massive emissions of carbon into the atmosphere.

    Forest Trends develops incentive systems that pay people to manage rather than destroy forests.

    Making the case to public and private sector investors in these incentive systems is a critical part of FT's work.

    Markets for carbon credits and water are advancing as a result of FT's work.

    Ambition for Change

    Indigenous and other local communities engage in and benefit from environmental markets, sustaining their livelihoods by conserving ecosystems, and environmental sustainability becomes part of the fabric of society so that business activity is expected to produce conservation outcomes.


    Path to Scale

    Policy Advocacy

    Forest Trends provides information and enables experts to connect to advance the adoption of market tools for conservation, such as PES, by government and private sector investors.

    Working in forestry in Haiti and Brazil, Michael Jenkins witnessed the effects on poor people of extreme degradation of natural ecosystems on poor people. He saw too that charitable solutions alone were insufficient. He went onto lead the MacArthur Foundation’s sustainable forestry grantmaking program, reorienting it to a systems approach to the forest value chain including strategies to build in financial and community sustainability. In 1998, he founded Forest Trends, focused on increasing the market value of natural ecosystems to prevent their conversion to plantations and pastures. Forest Trends is s a leader in creation and promotion of payment for ecosystem services (PES) models to generate conservation investment from the private sector and capital markets. PES involves offering incentives to landowners to manage their resources to provide an ecological service such as carbon sequestration, water filtration, or flood control. Forest Trends disseminates information about and advocates for these types of programs through Ecosystem Marketplace, a global information service; the Katoomba Group, an international coalition of investors, insurers, ecologists, community leaders, certifying bodies, and regulatory agencies that convenes to learn about PES and other market tools; and the Katoomba Incubator, which supports PES models. At the time of the Award, Forest Trends had convened 15 Katoomba Group events and commissioned the first legal analysis of carbon ownership rights of Brazil’s indigenous communities.

    Impact & Accomplishments

    • Contributions to making the financial investments in REDD+ (carbon credits generated by reduction of deforestation and degradation) transparent and accessible, including a 2015 report, Tracking REDD+ Finance 2009-2012.
    • Providing information on the drivers of deforestation, including a 2014 report finding that nearly half of tropical deforestation is the result of illegal clearing for commercial agriculture.
    • Forest Trends’ training of U.S. Department of Agriculture senior managers resulted in creation of USDA’s Office of Ecosystem Services and Markets.


    Ann EspuelasCommunications Consultant, Forest Trends Association
    Beto BorgesDirector, Communities and Markets Program, Forest Trends Association
    Brian SchaapREDDX Program Senior Associate, Forest Trends Association
    Steve ZwickEditor, Ecosystem Marketplace, Forest Trends Association

    See All Awardees →