City : Brussels
Region : Brussels Capital Region
Project by : Forestbase
Joined on : Mar 2022
At Forestbase, we are on a mission to protect àll primary rainforests globally. Deforestation is a land use crisis driven by financial incentive. Nature is inherently connected to land. There is a price on land everywhere. That means that nature is present in the financial system, but only with one leg. Forests are being sold for their value in land, with the pristine nature on top valued at zero. This means that the price tag on nature is way too low.
For every hectare there is a business case competition: conservation vs agro vs timber vs other. Conservation almost never wins. Second, it is normal for forests to be locked up in land titles as big as 100 000 hectares, which is hard to acquire. There is no global anchor price point for forest today and the dormant demand in the market cannot realize their interest. It is normal for local land owners to sell their holdings for as low as €25/hectare.
Forestbase is a precedent case builder with the ambition to show the world the true financial value of nature. We acquire primary forests, always bigger than 10 000 hectares, we protect them and bring them to market as natural infrastructure assets in a stabilized legal-financial format. By unlocking financial market dynamics, we believe we can reach a much higher price point for forests than we see today. Our financial models, commissioned externally, show that this price point can go beyond €10 000/ha, which is in strong contrast with today’s €25/ha.
Who is involved?
The business case for conservation on the ground becomes financially more interesting and is therefore more resistant against competition for agro and timber.
Tens of millions of small agro-families globally own dormant wealth in the form of primary nature. Unlocking this wealth financially empowers them.
Many countries own dormant wealth in the form of primary nature. Unlocking this wealth financially empowers them in the global financial scene. Several countries put €0 on nature today in their national accounting. Putting a number there in the vicinity of €10 000/ha can unlock billions, which will come with a renewed appreciation for their nature.
Biodiversity-friendly financial flows
Financing the green:
By making land tenure a much more stable component and by bringing forest land itself an investable and tradable asset, Forestbase introduces nature in the financial category of infrastructure assets. The presence of nature in this category makes for a foundational layer for the entire offset market to derive more credibility and more legitimacy.
We have designed our setup in such a way that it is financially attractive to invest in nature, also for those who don’t care about nature. That way, we can mobilise a maximal amount of financial resources to conservation.
Greening the finance:
We bring biodiversity directly to financial markets. We unlock large tropical rainforests that typically have a legal-financial format that is undesirable and compliance-wise impossible for financial institutions to work with. By doing so, we protect forests that are otherwise threatened to be sold for other purposes than conservation.
How are the criteria met?
- We enable investors directly to invest in primary forests as an infrastructure asset with
- We finance entire projects as part of the forest we acquire from the private market. We try to acquire high-risk forests on which timber and agro parties can make a bid
- Our focus is entirely conservation of entire ecosystems, which is why we acquire forests that are always bigger than 10 000 hectares
- Our projects will be tracked with technology (drone flights, satellite imagery, bodycams and acoustic devices). But we will also track the socio-economic evolution in the surroundings of the forests that we acquire since we consider the wellbeing of communities a key conservation asset.
- We request our partners to confirm that we are only having conversations in a context of respect towards the mitigation ladder and that they only offset what they cannot reasonable solve internally.
- We work at the hearth of deforestation and we consider pristine forests as planetary infrastructure. By doing so, the effect of what we do has positive impact on all 38 ecosystem services (carbon, biodiversity, water, pollination, erosion, soil quality, water-weather cycle,..). All of these contribute to the climate and by prioritizing on primary forests, we are working with forests that have a higher degree of resilience to climate change than reforested areas. We believe that rich ecosystems are still the most important answer to climate change, before any other solution.
- By increasing the value of primary forests, we reduce the global available hectares for agro land, since many parties will start considering the conservation case as better than agro when we reach a tipping point. By doing so, the remaining agro land will be incentivized to yield more efficiently.
- By setting a more precise standard, we want to make the term ‘Natural Capital’ more strict in use.
Higher financial value on nature reduces pressure to deforest
Given that deforestation is predominantly driven by financial incentive, unlocking a higher price per hectare of forest land is the key to re-designing the economic incentive that drives the deforestation economy. We will bring these forests to public markets so that we can reach the first ever market-made and globally visible price anchor point for tropical forest. Making conservation financially the most interesting business case on the ground for every hectare is our core long term mission. For our own forests we aim at democratic ownership via stock exchange listings, and by building 20-30 big precedent cases, we believe we can significantly influence the price setting on primary forest lands globally. We want to provoke governments to copy our model. We are a disruptive unit economics company in the field of conservation finance. The one number we are after in the long run, is the global price/hectare of tropical forests. If we can get it high enough, we’ll nature being treated as wealth and therefore protected much better by whomever owns it.
Unlocking value of nature, unlocks wealth for the owner of it (families, govs)
By bringing intrinsic value closer to real market price, we intend to unlock wealth for tens of millions of families and even entire countries in the tropical belt who own pristine forests today. This empowers them financially and removes the oxygen from the deforestation economy.
Healthier and more effective offset market dynamics
Having nature itself present in the financial markets in a standardized way is the key component for healthy offset markets. To succeed in our mission, we apply an exceptional focus on land tenure, since we believe this is the main weakness in today’s offset markets. We will only see healthy market dynamics if both asset (forest land) and it’s product (ecosystem services) are publicly trading. The offset markets will only succeed in their mission if they realize a higher price/hectare for forests on the ground, which they don’t today.