In order to avoid the most adverse effects of climate change, we believe reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and their atmospheric concentration should be the pre-imminent concern in conservation. This global imperative aligns with conservation goals to maintain and rebuild the ecosystems on which society depends for clean air, water, wildlife, public health, sustained agricultural yields, and recreation, among many other benefits.
For decades the Institute has sought to maximize its impact by finding solutions for smaller landowners whose collective conservation action would be significant, but for whom adoption can be most challenging. Our work continues to be at the forefront, and sometimes behind the scenes, doing the early thinking, demonstration, and promotion so that ecological forestry can be adopted as a means of climate change mitigation. Over more than a decade the Institute has:
Our past work has taught us that the interests of landowners must align with public policy objectives and economic realities. Carbon markets around the world--and particularly in Europe, but also in California--currently represent the most well-developed of these approaches. Despite these promising trends there remain significant barriers to broader participation from smaller farms and forestland owners.
Environmental challenges of our time require widely supported innovations that are accessible to a diversity of landowners and communities. The Institute is one of the most collaborative and “open-source” organizations working on this challenge. Now, the Institute is building new partnerships to continue innovation in the U.S. Southeast and Puerto Rico--the latter a proving ground for innovations in tropical forests.
These geographies are home to some of the most naturally productive forests in the world. However, current and historical management practices have left these forests far below their ecological potential. By shifting the way forests are valued and managed, forest types prevalent in these two regions alone could remove hundreds of millions of tons of additional carbon from the atmosphere over the next few vital decades, all while enjoying the host of co-benefits that come from healthy and functioning forest ecosystems.