Nature and Biodiversity

These 12 innovators are enabling forest restoration at scale

Every $1 spent on nature-positive activities like forest conservation and restoration can generate up to $7 more in the broader economy.

Every $1 spent on nature-positive activities like forest conservation and restoration can generate up to $7 more in the broader economy. Image: Grow-Trees

Jaideep Salil
UpLink Project Specialist, Innovation Ecosystems, World Economic Forum
Prachi Jha
Digital Activation, Marketing Communications Lead, World Economic Forum
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Climate and Nature

This article is part of: World Economic Forum Annual Meeting
  • Protecting and restoring forests is critical to combat climate change and protect half of the global GDP threatened by nature loss.
  • Businesses must seize the opportunity to spearhead this movement - data suggests every $1 spent on nature-positive activities like forest conservation and restoration can generate up to $7 more in the broader economy.
  • The Trillion Trees: Restoration at Scale Challenge sought innovative ecopreneurial solutions that enable forest restoration at scale - here are 12 Top Innovators that have been selected.

Global biodiversity and economic health are imperilled by the rapid degradation of our forest ecosystems. Approximately $44 trillion, or half of global GDP, is threatened by nature loss, which makes the prevention of deforestation, conservation of intact forests, and restoration of at-risk sites critical to combat the risks associated with climate change.

A proactive movement away from modes of functioning that have resulted in the climate crisis is necessary, and business must seize the opportunity to spearhead this transition. Closing the nature financing gap, which stands at $711 billion per year on average, will be key in enabling the transition to a nature-positive economy and reversing the decline of our natural ecosystems by 2030.

When done right, forest conservation and restoration presents businesses with a cost-effective and scalable method to realize their net-zero emission ambitions while improving their environmental impact and supporting forest-dependent livelihoods. In fact, every $1 spent on nature-positive activities like forest conservation and restoration can generate up to $7 more in the broader economy.

The potential for forest restoration globally is considerable, but bottlenecks in the form of insufficient investment in projects, human capital deficiencies, and inadequate seed stocks, amongst others, need to be resolved. Innovation, with its capacity to deliver disruptive solutions, can help tackle these problems and catalyse progress towards restoration at scale.

The Trillion Trees: Restoration at Scale Challenge sought innovative ecopreneurial solutions that allow enable forest restoration at scale, delivering carbon sequestration, biodiversity conservation and livelihood generation opportunities that help revive our natural ecosystems. This challenge was led by UpLink and, and supported by Ecopetrol, Ericsson, International Union for Conservation of Nature, Mahindra Group, Mercuria, New Forests, Rabobank, Social Alpha, and Taking Root.

One hundred and sixty submissions were received from around the world, the second most ever for a Trillion Trees challenge, and 12 Top Innovators were selected to join the UpLink Innovation Ecosystem. By joining this collaborative ecosystem, these organizations will get the opportunity to drive global attention to their innovation and connect with the right stakeholders to scale their impact.

Meet the 12 Top Innovators selected for this Challenge:

Blue Forest specializes in the protection and restoration of mangrove forests. On track to plant 500 million mangroves by 2030, which will enable the removal of 2 million tons of CO2 from the atmosphere annually, Blue Forest has projects underway across Africa and Asia, ensuring that at least 60% of the net income it generates goes directly to local communities.

Funga reintroduces the power of fungal biodiversity to working forests, accelerating tree growth and carbon removal. By reintroducing the right native and biodiverse communities of fungi, Funga creates positive outcomes for forest owners, timber supply, fungal biodiversity, and climate action.

Groasis B.V. drives sustainable agroforestry and ecosystem restoration with its patented plant cocoon technology, which makes it possible to plant trees, bushes, and vegetables on dry and degraded land. Its reusable Waterboxx and biodegradable Growboxx solutions offer a ‘triple 90 benefit': 90% lower cost, 90% less water, and a 90% survival rate, that has contributed to successful planting of millions of trees across 60 countries.

Grow-Trees is a social enterprise that offers individuals and companies the opportunity to plant trees in India and worldwide. It has successfully planted over 18 million trees in 150+ projects across 23 Indian states and 2 countries on public lands, fostering sustainability, wildlife habitats, and supporting forest-dependent communities by generating more than 1.5 million workdays of employment.

MORFO restores forest ecosystems on degraded lands in tropical and sub-tropical regions, going beyond just reforesting to restore entire ecosystems. Utilizing drones for seed dispersal and data collection, MORFO’s approach combines forest ecosystem R&D, machine learning, and computer vision to facilitate global-scale reforestation at an unprecedented pace—up to 100 times faster than traditional methods.

Open Forest Protocol provides scalable, inclusive, accessible, and transparent infrastructure and tools, for nature-based projects to generate the highest quality carbon credits. Verified by a network of forest expert organizations and stored on a blockchain for transparency, the company’s annual ground monitoring data enhances credibility, allowing for investor confidently support nature-based carbon removal projects.

SankalpTaru Foundation is India's largest IT-enabled environmental NGO, dedicated to greening the planet through extensive afforestation and reforestation efforts. Having planted over 5 million trees across 27 states and UTs, the foundation strives for enduring environmental sustainability and socio-economic development.

Terraformation works to restore the planet’s forests in order to capture carbon, revive ecosystems, and build thriving communities. Its Seed to Carbon Forest Accelerator aims to bridge the financing gap for early-stage forestry teams undertaking biodiverse ecosystem restoration. In addition to producing high-quality, verified carbon credits, these projects generate complementary sustainable revenue streams to support local economies.

Terrasos, a Colombian B Corp, specializes in structuring and operating environmental investments. Pioneers in habitat banking, a disruptive offset mechanism that allows companies to direct investments under a long-term conservation projects, Terrasos’ solution incentivizes landowners to conserve their land and in the process deliver quantifiable gains in biodiversity protection.

Treeapp is a B-Corp, with a focus on modernising reforestation by offering a user-friendly mobile app for individuals and businesses to plant trees globally. With over 100,000 users, the app enables individuals to fund planting projects by watching adds paid for by sustainably minded companies.

Viridis Terra International is a climate-tech company specializing in large-scale integrated forest and agroforest landscape restoration (IFLR®). Its innovative approach combines patent-pending biotechnologies with a digital block-chain based platform (TreeofLives®), which serves as an invest vehicle and system for project data management and sale of project outputs, to deliver new livelihood opportunities for local communities and restore degraded land.

Wilder Climate Solutions mitigates climate risk by producing nature-based solutions that improve biodiversity, build community, and enhance resiliency. In partnership with Accenture and Amazon Web Services, Wilder Climate Solutions has developed a mobile app called Squirrel- a one-stop digital marketplace that connects seed collectors and growers while building capacity to scale seed collection.

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