Making the Conservation of Tropical Forest Biodiversity a Reality

Posted By: Ennovent|Dated: December 27, 2012

Although tropical rainforests cover only 6% of the earth’s land surface, they remain an important global center of biodiversity and ecosystem services. Specifically, tropical forests play a key role in sequestering and storing carbon, controlling diseases and facilitating pollination.

Renewing Belize’s Tropical Forests through Cacao

Tropical forests also provide important resources to the communities who live in their midst. They allow for the sustainable exploitation of non-timber forest products such as fruits, medicinal plants or herbs, which are critical for the income generation abilities of local communities and survival of mankind as a whole.

Tropical forests, however, are also one of the most threatened ecosystems globally and for-profit enterprises can greatly complement the valuable work of NGOs and governments to reduce the pressure on tropical forest biodiversity. With this in mind, WWF Switzerland worked with Ennovent, a company focused on accelerating sustainable innovations for low-income markets to launch the Tropical Forest Challenge in May this year. This exciting global initiative was aimed at discovering the best for-profit solutions from around the world that have a positive impact on tropical forest biodiversity.

Organic Cacao of Belize

The challenge used Ennovent’s online platform to crowd-source relevant solutions and impressively, 306 solutions were nominated for the challenge with over 70 applications being received from Latin America, Africa, South East Asia and beyond. More than 2,300 votes were then gathered from the public to choose the most high impact applications.

Following the voting process, over 30 experts in the fields of forestry, development and business independently assessed the applications. These companies were then further evaluated by 11 distinguished experts that formed the final Jury panel on criteria such as the environmental, social and economic impact these companies had on forest biodiversity and local communities, the potential to generate financial returns for impact investors as well as the potential for the winning companies to be scaled up locally, regionally and globally.

Both WWF Switzerland and Ennovent are proud to announce that in the end it was Runa ( and Planting Empowerment ( that were selected as the winners for the Company and Startup category respectively.

Runa is an innovative Ecuador-based organization creating US markets for guayusa, a rich tasting naturally caffeinated tea sustainably grown by indigenous farmers. Since inception in 2009, Runa has generated over $100,000 of direct income to over 2,000 farming families – representing an impressive average farmer income increase of 30% – and has planted over 150,000 trees.

Farmers of Belize’s Tropical Forests

Planting Empowerment on the other hand is focused on developing mixed native species agroforestry projects that provide alternative income streams to slash and burn agriculture for smallholder farmers in Panama – encouraging tropical forest conservation. The company leases plots from small landholders to encourage long-term land tenure and stewardship of natural resources while providing hands-on forestry management skills and traditional classroom knowledge. To date Planting Empowerment has planted more than 27,500 trees and has ensured that farmers are earning 45% more than previous income levels.

The challenge offered these winners important rewards such as global visibility, networking and capacity building opportunities through challenge partners, GoodCompany, Sustainatopia and Thomson Reuters Foundation. These Challenge rewards are important as many early-stage entrepreneurs face resource gaps – such as networks and training – that inhibit their ability to scale high potential ventures.

The jury also selected four finalists within each category that are also doing their part to positively impact tropical forests. These impressive finalists are Ecoplanet Bamboo, Wildlife Works, Rainforest Expeditions, Chicza, Floresta Holdings Ltd, Ecotech Timber, Maya Mountain Cacao and Eco-Fuel Africa.

It is said that we must be the change we want to see in the world. Organisations such as our finalists and winners are doing just that. Together, they are doing their bit to change the lives of thousands of local communities and their families while sustainably preserving tropical forests in their home regions. They are truly some of the best for-profit enterprises from around the world that are making a positive impact on tropical forest biodiversity.

Read more about the winners and finalists here.

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  • Ramakria

    Dear readers

    Rich bio diversity whether be it in BALI or Brazil (Amazon Rain Forest) ,Rocky mountains – Canada plus USA
    and even the foothills of Himalayas ,it is very important to conserve ,preserve the Nature and Environment

    India ,Bangladesh are very densely populated with population
    it is important that West Bengal realise Sunderbuns
    India realise importance of HIMALAYAS etc

  • Ramakria

    To preserve the foothills of the Himalayas ,preserve our Natural forests is very paramount importance and we must ensure we do it
    we must use the GIS based technology ,ISRO bhuvan portal ,scientific community in India and academia should converge to achieve these goals and aims

  • dhanesh

    that s right moments concerning me………………….

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