Forests are jobs. Forests are safety. Forests are recreation. For many, forests are life. And for the world, they are a safety net for climate change.

The world’s tropical forests hold enough carbon to provide up to one-third of the short-term solution to climate change. According to the Center for Global Development, they could lower global costs of mitigating climate change by 30 percent — but we’re losing 40 football fields of forest every minute. This is an economic problem, as forest land is often worth more when converted to other uses. But in reality, that’s not true.

Tropical forests store carbon and protect biodiversity and wildlife, but they also help mitigate natural disasters like landslides and flooding, supply critical daily resources for nearby residents, and support all kinds of economic activities. For example, the $100 billion chocolate industry depends on a tiny bug that lives in tropical forests and pollinates cacao plants.

Most of this data isn’t captured in standard economic models, but valuing the carbon stored in these ancient forests can help change that. There’s an intricate UN mechanism for this, called REDD+. It involves monitoring forests to ensure they aren’t cut down, that biodiversity is protected, and that local communities are empowered. For now, it’s the best way to place a value on standing forests – and to make them worth more alive than dead.

Collaboration is vital

There’s a lot of paperwork with REDD+ — there has to be, for results to be rigorous. But that also means it’s inaccessible to regular people.

Stand For Trees was created to change that: it makes tropical forest conservation easily available to the public and businesses wanting to do more to protect natural resources. Whether offsetting their impact, protecting the natural systems that support their industries, or making their business more appealing to consumers — a key strategy as almost three-quarters of young consumers would pay more for sustainable offerings — Stand For Trees makes it easy for both large corporations and small business to get involved.

Through its web platform, anyone can purchase a tonne of carbon ($10 USD each) from one of 16 projects that protect some of the world’s most spectacular forest landscapes, and the communities and wildlife that call them home. The projects cover an area greater than Croatia, deliver investments and benefits for local communities, conserve nature, improve access to education, health care, clean water, and infrastructure, and provide sustainable development opportunities in a variety of areas. Each project also follows a strict code of conduct prioritizing the rights and roles of local and Indigenous communities living in and near project areas.

For individuals and business, buying a Stand For Trees certificate is one of the easiest ways to have an impact because unlike donation campaigns, which may or may not be successful, REDD+ results must be verified before anything can be sold in their name. Supporting REDD+ directly addresses deforestation and climate change, whether defined by tonnes of carbon, the size of the forest area, or how many trees are saved.

Maybe most importantly, this empowers us. Policies, infrastructure, and economies take time to shift, but carbon emissions need to decrease now – and conserving tropical forests are one of the easiest ways to make it happen. Through Stand For Trees, businesses and individuals can work together to create a vibrant, healthy future for our forests. The power is in our hands.
For more information, visit standfortrees.org.