Scaling up forest-based solutions for planetary crises

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How trees and forests are best deployed to confront some of the biggest challenges of our time

“The world is facing climate change, deforestation, and biodiversity loss,” said Janne Narakka, the Strategic Planning Committee Chair of the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC)’s Board of Directors. “Forests are currently high up on many global agendas: there are many different expectations on them – and on the solutions they could provide.”

He made the comments at a keynote session during the FSC’s General Assembly 2021-2022, held on 11 October 2022 in Bali, Indonesia, which set out to explore the central role of forests in the face of these crises and highlight the work required by institutions like FSC to ensure that forest-based solutions are deployed as effectively – and equitably – as possible. “With an estimated strong increase in global timber demand, we have to work to expand FSC’s forest management to bring our impact to new areas,” said Narakka; “but at the same time, it is important to work on new services to respond to the new demands on forests – such as for biodiversity and water purification.”

On that note, Valentina Lira, the sustainability director of Chilean winery Concha y Toro (the second largest winery in the world), shared her company’s approach to implementing FSC’s Ecosystem Services Procedure (ESP), which allows groups to identify, measure, and verify the positive impacts of responsible forest management. “Forestry is not our business; making wine is our business,” she said. “So for us, it was a very challenging idea to work with the FSC standard to certify the forest management that we have in the natural forests surrounding our wineries.”

However, it was increasingly apparent to the company that these forests were providing them with important services, such as regulating the water cycle, preventing erosion, and providing biodiversity that helped with pollination and pest control. So, they signed up to FSC’s ESP, with great results. “It was able to provide us not only with protection of the forest, but also a better relationship with the local community,” said Lira, “and compliance for our commitment to being a [carbon] net-zero company.”

Esther Rohena, the head of climate finance company South Pole’s Global Expansion and Partnerships division, shared some of her organization’s work as a “one stop shop for climate solutions,” which “leverage(s) our finance through the sale of carbon credits and public buyers to projects which are implemented in collaboration with NGOs, local communities, and forest owners.” For Rohena, providing financial assistance for implementers to gain certification is a critical piece of the puzzle.

Stephen Donofrio, the managing director of Ecosystem Marketplace – a standardized Voluntary Carbon Markets (VCM) end-to-end transparency platform – affirmed the growth in popularity of these kinds of projects. “There’s a demand part of this market that is increasingly seeking what is being called ‘high-integrity credits’,” he said. “Many buyers consider nature-based projects to be very valuable in terms of the benefits that they provide beyond carbon, as well as the climate benefits,” said Donofrio, affirming that buyrs are frequently willing to pay more for these. He also highlighted the importance of ensuring that Indigenous Peoples are “at the table for fair and equitable revenue-sharing from market-based approaches, and are also respected in terms of their support of biodiversity and the other [non-carbon] benefits that they provide.”

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