28 January 2016
Global Landscapes Forum

Landscape restoration could be a cash cow for finance

Each year, services provided by nature accumulate value in the trillions of dollars. Yet, many investors still tend to focus on unsustainable, short-term goals and strategies which exploits natural resources. As a consequence, the deployed financial capital often damages the environment as well as the economy.

Considering the additional decline of natural resources due to climate change, it is clear that the landscape sector is in need of alternative eco-investment models.

On Sunday, 6 December, 2015, experts from the banking and eco-business sectors met at the Global Landscapes Forum in Paris to discuss successful models for investing in sustainable landscapes and their scalability.

They provided examples for a multitude of sustainable investment opportunities in the landscape sector. They further explained how these models can successfully integrate social, economic, and environmental interdependencies, such as sustainable production, food security and livelihood development.

One of the cases presented at the Global Landscapes Forum was the Athelia Climate Fund (ACF). Sylvain Goupille, Founder and Managing Partner of Althelia Ecosphere and Althelia Climate Fund GP, discussed the private equity fund operating in Latin America.

Goupille explained how the ACF aligns financial performance with environmental and social development. The fund uses REDD+ mechanisms for eco-investments in landscape conversation and management. The results are commercial land-use projects enhancing sustainable livelihoods, surrounding biodiversity and ecosystem services.

“The need for finance in sustainable land use is huge,” said Goupille. Fortunately, the opportunities are equally huge. In his presentation, Goupille showed the example of a successful eco-investment project based on sustainable cattle in Brazil. The project focused on cattle intensification and degraded land restoration through agroforestry.

“We have been achieving amazing results,” said Goupille about the Novo Campo ACF project, which works to restore degraded pasture lands in the cattle ranching Mato Grosso region of Brazil.

The project fully rehabilitated 10,000 ha of degraded pastures and improved the welfare of 35,000 heads of cattle. In addition, the project directly improved the livelihoods of small rangers and preserved 15,000 hectares of forest, preventing the release of 9 million tons of greenhouse gas emissions.

Since scalability is an important aspect in eco-investments, Groupille also spoke about the project’s opportunities for scalability.

The Brazilian state of Mato Grosso is home to 27 million heads of cattle. As a result, this area is an ideal ground for scaling up the ACF project. “We always look at scaling up,” Groupille confirmed.

The AFC project is a great example of the potential that sustainable fiscal models in the landscape sector provide. Eco-investment cases like this are crucial to illustrate the wide variety of long-term financial opportunities and how they can positively impact the communities, environment and economy in different landscapes. Additionally, they serve to make investing in natural resources more attractive, as they demonstrate that successful scalability is possible in the future.