Skoll Foundation


Forest Trends Association

Skoll Awardee(s): Michael Jenkins
Award Year: 2010
Issue Area(s) Addressed: Environmental Sustainability

(Click here to print)

“Our mission is to expand the value of forests, promote sustainable forest management, support innovative projects and companies that are developing these markets, and to enhance the livelihoods of local communities living in and around those forests.”

Sub-Issues: Arresting Deforestation; Water Management The cost of preserving vital ecosystems often falls disproportionately on inhabitants of remote and relatively undisturbed areas, when conserving means foregoing income-generating opportunities.

The Skoll Awardee: Working in forestry in Haiti and Brazil, Michael Jenkins witnessed the effects on poor people of extreme degradation of natural ecosystems on poor people. He saw too that charitable solutions alone were insufficient. He went onto lead the MacArthur Foundation’s sustainable forestry grantmaking program, reorienting it to a systems approach to the forest value chain including strategies to build in financial and community sustainability. In 1998, he founded Forest Trends, focused on increasing the market value of natural ecosystems to prevent their conversion to plantations and pastures. Forest Trends is s a leader in creation and promotion of payment for ecosystem services (PES) models to generate conservation investment from the private sector and capital markets. PES involves offering incentives to landowners to manage their resources to provide an ecological service such as carbon sequestration, water filtration, or flood control. Forest Trends disseminates information about and advocates for these types of programs through Ecosystem Marketplace, a global information service; the Katoomba Group, an international coalition of investors, insurers, ecologists, community leaders, certifying bodies, and regulatory agencies that convenes to learn about PES and other market tools; and the Katoomba Incubator, which supports PES models. At the time of the Award, Forest Trends had convened 15 Katoomba Group events and commissioned the first legal analysis of carbon ownership rights of Brazil’s indigenous communities.

Impact since joining the portfolio in 2010:

  • Contributions to making the financial investments in REDD+ (carbon credits generated by reduction of deforestation and degradation) transparent and accessible, including a 2015 report, Tracking REDD+ Finance 2009-2012.
  • Providing information on the drivers of deforestation, including a 2014 report finding that nearly half of tropical deforestation is the result of illegal clearing for commercial agriculture.
  • Forest Trends’ training of U.S. Department of Agriculture senior managers resulted in creation of USDA’s Office of Ecosystem Services and Markets.



© 2015 Skoll Foundation.