Analog forestry: the restoration arm of Rich Forests
May 2013 saw the formal presentation of the Rich Forests coalition to the world. The coalition is made up of a seldom-seen group of actors, with private companies, investors and Dutch NGOs, all of whom were interested in going beyond business-as-usual.
During a closed working session held in the Botanical Garden in Amsterdam, facilitated by the Kirkman Company, the main partners of the coalition met and exchanged their perspectives on restoration and livelihood improvement through innovative ventures with private investors. Both the IAFN and the NTFP-EP explained what their main goals and areas of work are. The session was followed by public event featuring the presentation of the Rich Forests institutional image, and different kinds of Analog Forest as well as non-timber forests products were showcased.
Several factors have made the creation of this coalition possible in the first place, among others the fact that more than a sixth of humanity depend on forests and forest products for their livelihoods. Nonetheless, an aggressively extractive development model keeps promoting the loss of forest landscapes and the expansion of large-scale monocultures globally, threatening local livelihoods, land rights and biodiversity. Rich Forests seeks to address these challenges by encouraging partnerships that lead to sustainable production and economic opportunities, all while restoring biodiversity and increasing food security.
IAFN has been active in figuring out how to enable these economic opportunities and act as a facilitator between investors and forest dwellers. In pursuit of these objectives, we spoke at the FAO conference on Forests and Food Security, held in May at their headquarters in Rome and presented at the TBLI international conference on impact investment in New York City, in past June.
Through these experiences, we have learned of the need to find a common language between investments from the private sector and the development discourse, in order to engage important sectors of the economy that may have a positive impact in the production chain and on the way business is done around forest commodities.
Rich Forests represents a business opportunity for ecologically responsible enterprises, and social returns on investments. Analog forestry represents the restoration technique that can create economic opportunities in degraded areas of little interest to the for-profit sector. Revitalizing impoverished soils and communities can increase potential sources of forest crops such as seasonal fruits, wild honey, fibers, medicinal plants, essential oils, agro-ecosystem services such as water, biodiversity and more. IAFN’s partners play an active role in technical assistance and providing links to international partners.
Next year, Rich Forests will see an increase in its activities as the coalition prepares for more projects and fundraising strategies to build a portfolio that links producers with investors. These connections add value to a chain of production that is important not only because of the quality of its products, but also for the benefits to the environment and their impact on climate patterns, as forests are undoubtedly our planet’s life-support systems.