The Forest Accelerator: investing in the future of forest conservation
Forests are disappearing. As are the species that thrive under their canopies and the services they provide to communities worldwide. Whether it’s due to agricultural expansion, resource exploitation or weak governance, ultimately, deforestation is a symptom of a global system that does not value forests in their natural state.
But it doesn’t have to be that way. BirdLife has shown that forests can be preserved for the long term, with proven conservation projects at small and medium scales in many incredible landscapes worldwide. We have found a way to develop and upscale the most successful conservation enterprises to build innovative funding models that change how businesses, governments and society see forests.
Welcome to the future of forest conservation with BirdLife’s Forest Landscape Sustainability Accelerator.
Local conservation organisations play a crucial role in sustaining the tropical forests that we all depend on. BirdLife’s local Partners have had remarkable success in securing legal protection for threatened forests around the world, and in supporting local communities to conserve their forests. But too often conservation initiatives do not reach their full potential because they are built on traditional NGO structures with insecure funding cycles. How can a conservationist think of innovative and future-proof solutions when they are not sure if their work will have funding next year?
BirdLife’s Forest Landscape Sustainability Accelerator tackles one of conservation’s biggest challenges: how to break free from unsustainable funding and tap into the huge scale of the private sector.
This requires us to explore how we can create economic value for forests while keeping them standing, and what are the right incentives to draw in private finance.
The Accelerator Effect: we invest in the teams behind bold forest landscape programmes
Our Accelerator is modelled on start-up incubators in the tech sector. We select the Sustainable Finance Initiatives posed by BirdLife Partners that have the highest potential to conserve forests and draw in income for the Partner and local communities. Once selected, these initiatives are kick-started and scaled-up with targeted seed funding, technical mentorship and profile raising.
As the Accelerator comes into it’s third year, we have seen considerable success with involved Partners, who have influenced regional business practices, certified and commercialised forest-positive products and forged essential partnerships with private sector companies.
Now, the Accelerator has expanded its scope of work further through helping Partners engage in forest carbon initiatives, such as REDD+, in their landscapes which can potentially unlock millions of pounds in private finance.
The 2022/2023 Accelerator Cohort
BirdLife International, alongside our technical partners, are supporting national BirdLife Partners across four continents in advancing a range of innovative and exciting Sustainable Finance Initiatives.
Forest conservation starts with a cup of tea. Building on their previous Accelerator project, Aves Argentinas will continue developing their Cultivo Amigos de las Aves (CAA) seal for sustainable, organic yerba mate which is grown according to strict conservation standards. Their work for this year includes an in-depth study of organic producers, their land operations, environmental assets and commercial trends to kick-start the marketing and commercialisation of their products around the world.
ProNatura Sur, Mexico
ProNatura Sur will set up a revolving fund for sustainable resin production in the pine and oak forests of Chiapas, Mexico. This is an opportunity to influence a large area of forest (13,500 ha) and to support a locally led approach – encouraging more people to be involved in resin production and facilitate producers to sign conservation agreements, thereby incentivising the protection of the forest that is needed for their livelihood.
Guyra will continue developing Tangará, the social enterprise of Guyra Paraguay that can commercialize products and services coming from the Guyra Reta Reserve (the core protected area), and strengthening the Ka´a Ka´aguy Producers Association, to manage all the value chains of Non-Timber Forest Products and scale the production of the diversified organic farms in San Rafael landscape.
BirdLife São Tomé and Príncipe
BirdLife São Tomé and Príncipe will pilot four satellite butterfly farms in rural communities to supply a main butterfly farm run by the private sector. This is an opportunity to formalise an informal trade in butterfly farming and therefore control it, incentivising the preservation of biodiversity and providing a source of income for local communities.
Nature Kenya will carry out the pre-feasibility forest carbon scoping for Dakatcha Woodland in Kenya.
NatureLife Cambodia are advancing their REDD+ project, which is at an exciting stage in its development and holds the potential to unlock millions in conservation finance for Lomphat Wildlife Sanctuary. They are also carrying out Free Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) community engagement activities.
Burung will continue to develop their Payment for Ecosystem Services mechanism around water services in Mbeliling. Building on the previous work in the Accelerator, this initiative is both extremely innovative and holds high potential. Burung have set up a Trust Fund with 22 members (local private sector water companies) who are providing funds to finance conservation projects in the Mbeliling watersheds, which are essential to their viability as businesses and to the communities which live in Mbeliling.
NatureFiji will carry out the pre-feasibility forest carbon scoping for two sites, Navukailagi and Sawaieke.
Forest Landscapes are Shaped by Decisions
As you will can see in this video, every decision you make can shape tropical forest landscapes. We believe that well-managed landscapes can meet the needs of the present without compromising the future. We need forest-positive incentives, innovation in conservation and investment, so that both people and forests can thrive.
The BirdLife Forest Landscape Sustainability Accelerator is investing in bold, sustainable solutions for tropical forest landscapes around the world. What’s your next decision?
If you would like to learn more about the Accelerator, please contact Aron Marshall at [email protected].
The Accelerator is an initiative of Trillion Trees: a joint venture comprising three of the biggest conservation organisations in the world (BirdLife, WCS, and WWF), and representing over 100 forest landscape programmes.
Located in the southeast of Madagascar, Tsitongambarika tropical forest is a protected area home to unique wildlife. New species of plants and animals continue to be discovered, and the forest is a vital water supply for local people. It also provides them with valuable materials on which their livelihoods depend, including food, firewood, charcoal and timber. Yet the site is extremely threatened, and with it, the essential services it provides.
In August 2020, the European Commission-funded Programme to Support the Conservation of Forest Ecosystems in West Africa (PAPFoR) was rolled out in Sierra Leone and Liberia to conserve the Gola Forest. In Sierra Leone, the three year programme is being implemented by the Conservation Society of Sierra Leone (CSSL), BirdLife Partner. Alice Kofi Asare Communication Officer, for the CSSL PAPFoR project sat down with Madam Musu Massaquoi, a 46 year old farmer from the Small Bo, Chiefdom, Kambui Hills Reserves, one of the areas where the project is being carried out.