Forestry at a tech conference? How nature has become the most popular topic in tech

Angeline Chen, president of the coral reef-nonprofit Global Coralition, ended the Wednesday keynotes at GreenBiz’s VERGE 22 event by asking everyone to take two deep breaths. 

“The primary one got here from the oceans and the second got here from the forests,” she said. 

It’s unusual for land, forestry and agriculture to be top of mind at a tech conference, yet nature may be as powerful a tool as engineered technology within the fight against climate change. Nonetheless, the methodologies have been lacking by way of guidance and investment on this particular variety of tech, derived from natural systems.

“A part of the problem is that this is definitely the [forestry, land and agriculture] sector that should go to net zero the fastest,” said Martha Stevenson, senior director of forestry research and strategy on the World Wildlife Fund, during a panel talk on science-based targets for food, ag and forestry. “Land use change and forestry emissions have to go to zero by around 2030 if we would like to maintain 1.5 [degrees Celsius of warming] on the table. After which this can also be the sector which is the last to get the guidance on how one can do the accounting.”

Stevenson was referring to the recently released Forest, Land and Agriculture (FLAG) Science Based Goal Setting Guidance set by the Science-Based Targets Initiative. This sector contributes to 22 percent of world emissions annually, which corporations have had a tough time incorporating into their climate strategies and goals because they usually are not strictly “climate,” she said. 

Based on the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES), the main drivers of nature loss are land use change, pollution, invasive species, climate change and direct exploitation of the natural resources. Climate is just not a transparent link to 4 out the five, with climate change because the outlier.

The FLAG guidance was created to assist sustainability experts inside firms translate how land use is integral to climate change to their executives, in order that firms can higher account for the great work they’re doing on forestry or regenerative agriculture programs. 

20% of the worldwide forests are respiring greater than they’re sequestering for at the least 3 months out of the yr. Once you breathe out greater than you breathe in, you might be dying.

Based on Christa Anderson, director of climate science and carbon metrics at WWF, the FLAG guidance includes an Excel modeling tool for firms to account for his or her emissions and set a goal, in addition to background guidance on how one can reduce emissions to satisfy that focus on, and a technique section to grasp how the guidance and accounting was created. Anderson outlined the three big buckets of emissions created by WWF: land management akin to fertilizer production, flooding soil for rice, transport of biomass; carbon removals and storage; and land use change akin to deforestation and forest degradation. 

The FLAG guidance also requires firms to commit to zero deforestation from commodities with a goal date no later than 2025. The FLAG guidance is bullish on forestry for a succinct and clear reason: 

“Twenty percent of the worldwide forests are respiring greater than they’re sequestering for at the least three months out of the yr,” Stevenson said. “Once you breathe out greater than you breathe in, what does that mean? You’re dying.” 

In one other discussion about putting nature-based solutions into practice, Anna Rathmann of the Jane Goodall Institute relayed one among her favorite stories about famed primatologist Goodall. Rathmann described how, flying into Tanzania, Goodall saw the Bombay National Park as a small island of green surrounded by development and realized that if forests aren’t protected and restored, all that can be left with are such small islands.

Bambi Semroc, senior vp of the Center for Sustainable Lands and Waters at Conservation International, is working with corporate partners to determine how one can maintain pristine forests for future generations.

“We’re going into uncharted territory,” she said. “Does anybody know what being a nature-positive [company] looks like at this time limit? No. We’re about to enterprise into that.”

Innovation is occurring to assist protect nature, as evidenced by the event of the FLAG guidelines from WWF. There’s also innovations in latest business models to value nature’s impact on the climate crisis akin to carbon credits for forestry projects. An enormous startup ecosystem that has popped up around these carbon crediting schemes as entrepreneurs smell an oppurtunity. For instance, earlier this yr Pachama raised a $55 million funding round and NCX raised $50 million including from Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff. The American Forest Foundation’s methodology for dynamic baselines was approved by Verra, a carbon credits registry, last week to higher measure additionality claims of such forestry projects. Nature is being seen as a real climate technology. But even with this momentum, experts are still fearful about inaction.  

“Don’t wait for perfect numbers — just start,” Stevenson said. “I feel like too often we type of wait for the proper measurement, we wait for the proper definitions, we delay motion, and everybody points at one another and nothing changes.  Don’t wait, please start.”


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here