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Ecosystem services pioneer wins $1M award

Forest loss across Borneo since 1973
Forests like this rainforest in Borneo provide an array of ‘ecosystem services’ including carbon storage, flood and erosion control, transpiration, climate moderation, and biodiversity, among others.

Forest Trends, a non-profit that is working to develop market-based tools and approaches to value ecosystems for the services they afford, has won a million dollar award from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.

The MacArthur Award for Creative and Effective Institutions, announced today, was given to nine organizations, all of which were previous MacArthur grantees. Forest Trends was selected for “[bringing] the value of forests into the modern economy.”

“Forests and other ecosystems help provide clean air, clean water, habitats for biodiversity, and a stable climate – services that have real economic value,” said MacArthur in a statement. “Serving as the connective tissue between the forestry, financial, and energy sectors, government, environmental nonprofits, and indigenous communities, Forest Trends builds best practices, shapes local policy, and advances new conservation initiatives.”

“Forest Trends has developed new policies, initiatives, and institutions that bring environmental conservation into business and governmental decisions. It helped develop Peru’s National Forest Strategy, has engaged the Chinese government on trade practices, worked with Ghana’s private sector to improve agricultural production, and helped create the U.S. Office of Environmental Services.”

Forest Trends is led by Michael Jenkins, who in 2010 was given the Skoll Award for Social Entrepreneurship, a prestigious accolade granted by the Skoll Foundation.

Forest Trends, which runs the Katoomba Group, a convener, and Ecosystem Marketplace, a clearinghouse for information on emerging payments for ecosystem services products and markets, has received funding from MacArthur for years.

Other winners of the MacArthur Award for Creative and Effective Institutions this year include Asistencia Legal por los Derechos Humanos, Firelight Media, the FrameWorks Institute, the Human Rights Center, iCivics, the John Howard Association of Illinois, National Institute on Money in State Politics, and the Roosevelt Campus Network.

Waterfall in Malaysia.

Full disclosure: the MacArthur Foundation supported a project under’s Special Reporting Initiative in 2014.

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