Forest Trends recasts preservation debate, emphasizes economic benefits of conservation

Washington Times
22 February 2015

Michael Jenkins believes there’s more than one way to hug a tree.

The president of the Washington-based nonprofit Forest Trends is trying to recast the long-running debate between developers and environmentalists over how to preserve and profit from the world’s forests.

This means emphasizing redefining conservation as something that deals with more than just ecology and also with economics and business development.

“What we tried to do when we started Forest Trends was to say, ‘How can we flip that equation?’ ” said Mr. Jenkins in a recent interview. “How can we start to really develop the ways by which all of these additional, what we call ‘eco-system services,’ and functions that forests provide start to be real in terms of economic return.”

The group’s work is getting some attention: The MacArthur Foundation recently recognized Forest Trends as one of nine nonprofit organizations across the country demonstrating “exceptional creativity and effectiveness.” The recognition comes with a $1 million gift to further the organization’s work.

“Forest Trends leverages the real economic value of forests and ecosystems, motivating governments and businesses to make conservation a top priority,” said MacArthur Vice President Elspeth Revere, who leads the awards program, citing the nonprofit’s “creativity and effectiveness.”

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