Skoll Foundation


Forest Trends Association

Skoll Entrepreneur(s): Michael Jenkins
Award Year: 2010
Focus Area(s) Addressed: Deforestation

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As a forester in Haiti and Brazil, Michael Jenkins saw the effects of extreme degradation of natural ecosystems on poor people and understood that traditional philanthropy alone was insufficient to solve the problem. At the MacArthur Foundation, he reoriented the sustainable forestry program to take a whole-systems approach that outlined the forest “value chain” and identified strategies to build financial and community sustainability within the system. He founded Forest Trends in 1998 to highlight the market value of natural ecosystems to promote their conservation. Forest Trends is widely credited for advancing the concept and practical application of “payments for ecosystem services,” an innovation that is gaining widespread momentum as a powerful conservation tool for forests and ecosystems.


  • In Jan. 2015, Forest Trends’ report, Tracking REDD+ Finance-2009-2012 – Finance Flows in Seven REDD+ Countries, was the first-ever REDDX report for 2009-2012 and tracked US$1.2 billion in REDD+ commitments and US$378 million in disbursements in seven tropical forest countries: Brazil, Ecuador, Colombia, Ghana, Liberia, Tanzania, and Vietnam. The overall trend in REDD+ investments is a positive one, as donor countries have continued to make financial commitments in the seven REDDX pilot countries from 2009 through 2012.Key findings included increasing commitments to REDD+. Between 2009 and the end of 2012, total REDD+ finance commitments increased steadily to US$1.2 billion.
  • In Sept. 2014, A comprehensive new analysis released by Forest Trends said that nearly half (49%) of all recent tropical deforestation is the result of illegal clearing for commercial agriculture. The study also finds that around half of this illegal destruction was driven by overseas demand for agricultural commodities including palm oil, beef, soy, and wood products. In addition to devastating impacts on forest-dependent people and biodiversity, the illegal conversion of tropical forests for commercial agriculture is estimated to produce 1.47 gigatonnes of carbon each year—equivalent to 25% of the EU’s annual fossil fuel-based emissions.
  • On 2012, the Surui was the first indigenous tribe globally to earn carbon credits under internationally recognized standards for capturing carbon in trees, part of the Skoll-supported Amazon Corridors initiative. This resulted from years of terrific work by many, including ACT and Forest Trends.
  • In Dec. 2013, published new reports: Treatment of Conversion Timber in Consumer-Country Measures and Identifying Illegality in Timber from Forest Conversion.
  • In Nov. 2012, published new report noting that the price of forest carbon credits doubled in 2011, leading to a record market value of $237 million. The report, Leveraging the Landscape: State of the Forest Carbon Markets 2012, aggregates data from 451 individual forest carbon projects historically.
  • Widely credited for “catalytic impact” in advancing the concept, understanding and practical application of PES, particularly in convening key stakeholders with ability to move this approach to conservation forward.
  • USDA created new Office of Ecosystem Services and Markets as a direct result of Forest Trends providing training for its senior management team for 5 years. It’s the first time a new USDA office has been created in 30 years.
  • Has built the premier global information service on ecosystem service markets — Ecosystem Marketplace.
  • Has convened 15 Katoomba Group events internationally with thousands of participants, leading to development of informal communities of experts that have further advanced PES issues, including establishment of a $50 million ecosystem service program in Mexico and advancement of PES legislation in Colombia, Malawi, Peru and Uganda.



© 2015 Skoll Foundation.