A group of 10 forestry fund managers and companies, including New Forests, Gresham House and Japanese companies – Marubeni and Mitsui & Co – collectively owning or managing 9m hectares of forests, have launched a sustainability alliance.

David Brand, convening chair of the newly launched International Sustainable Forestry Coalition (ISFC), and chair of nature-based real assets manager, New Forests, told IPE Real Assets that the coalition was borne out of investors’ concern for the future development of natural capital, like forestry and agriculture.

Brand said it was felt that the industry needed better coordination with global and national policy-setting bodies on how it could best meet decarbonisation and biodiversity targets.

He said there needed to be a standardised approach to such things as carbon credit accounting and biodiversity markets. The lack of a standard meant that some investors took a conservative approach and in doing so devalued their investments.

Brand said: “For the forestry sector to play a greater role in the overarching sustainability transition it needs to engage more directly with the Climate Change and Biodiversity COPs, with initiatives such as the Forests and Climate Leaders Partnership and with other policy processes related to the conservation and sustainable management of forests.

Executive director of the ISFC, Ross Hampton, said the private forestry sector was a vital partner to mobilise capital at the scale required to deliver on these ambitions and applicable United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

Jody Strickland, chief business officer and EVP of F&W Forestry Services, said ISFC provides a conduit for the forestry sector to work together to meet the challenges of transitioning to a sustainable society. 

Mark McHugh, president of US-based global forest company Rayonier, said: “Sustainably managed working forests will play a vital role in supporting the transition to a circular bioeconomy. At Rayonier, we are committed to realising the full potential of our forests in meeting the needs of society.”

Olly Hughes, managing director of forestry at Gresham House, said consideration of long-term sustainability risks and opportunities was a crucial aspect of forestry management. 

“Sustainability-related risks include climate change and biodiversity loss. We believe that managing forests sustainably can help mitigate these long-term risks and maximise the long-term growth and health of these assets for the ultimate benefit of society.

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