The Rainforest Alliance Keeps Growing (Literally) Despite Recession

rainforest photo

Rainforest living up to its name. Photo: Flickr, CC.
When it Comes to Forests, Growth is Good
A lot of companies and organizations are making fewer and smaller investments because of the current economic recession, so it's good to hear that despite that the Rainforest Alliance has seen a good growth in its sustainable forestry, agriculture and tourism programs during 2008. This probably means that companies understand that 'green' is now mainstream, and that consumers won't stop demanding it even when times are hard.

Photo: Flickr, CC.

The Rainforest Alliance tells us:

Thanks to consumer choices and business’ response and foresight, Rainforest Alliance certification of forest and farmlands grew by 23 percent during 2008. Today, through both forestry and agriculture programs, more than 131 million acres (52 million hectares) are managed sustainably, thus benefitting landowners, communities and the environment, up from 107 million acres at the end of 2007.

The vast majority of those 131 million acres are Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified forests (about 130 million acres, or almost 30x more than Quebec's new huge protected area), while about 1 million acres are "Rainforest Alliance Certified" farmland from the agriculture program, though that number is growing fast: "In just one year, the number of certified farms increased from 25,640 to 31,156.".

Added to the list of countries containing certified farms were Vietnam and Jamaica, where coffee farms are certified, and India and Argentina, where certified tea estates now sell to Unilever. In addition to staple tropical crops like coffee, bananas, tea and cocoa, new crops such as grapes, açai and chestnuts were added in 2008.

Sales of Rainforest Alliance Certified coffee in 2008 totaled 62,296 metric tons, or over one million bags, and sales of cocoa from certified farms grew from an estimated $4.5 million to $16.75 million in the last year.

On the tourism front, "The Rainforest Alliance’s sustainable tourism activities have increased by 43 percent since 2007, as the number of businesses working with the program increased from 300 to 429." You can learn more about this here.

The Future of the Rainforest Alliance
In general, great news. Kudos to the Rainforest Alliance. The only recommendation I have for them is to keep incrementally improving their certification criteria (either by changing the existing ones, or by creating new more stringent ones (bronze, silver, gold, platinum, etc). It's great to get people to move from nothing to partly green, but once they're there, they need to take the next step and not rest on their laurels.

Via Rainforest Alliance
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