WE BELIEVE OUR IMPACT IS AS IMPORTANT AS OUR PRODUCT.
We focus on fostering a symbiotic relationship between local communities, threatened rainforests, and consumers. Our mission is to build a strong forestry economy in Cristóbal Colón, a small town in the coastal region of Ecuador. This economy will conserve local rainforests and connect communities to international green markets, thus reversing tropical deforestation. Tropical deforestation causes 15% of the global carbon emissions leading to climate change. We're implementing a new type of business strategy that addresses the primary drivers of deforestation.
By partnering with forest communities engaged in illegal logging and converting forests to agriculture, we're helping them transition to a new economy based on forest conservation, long-term sustainable forest management, and the manufacturing of value-added wood products. By connecting a majority of the trees in a forest to consumers, the value of the forest increases. High diversity native forests under long-term sustainable management can provide comparable or higher returns to communities than converting their forests to agriculture. By raising the value of the forests for local communities, we can create a powerful incentive for forest conservation.
Since founding the company in 2002, we've evolved into a vertically-integrated social venture, collaborating with numerous organizations and over 400 families. At its core, this is a conservation organization. Our fundamental purpose is to conserve high value forests in the midst of forest exploitation. With your support, we will conserve tropical rainforests, and continue to push the boundaries of what green building materials can accomplish.
We believe protecting tropical rainforests has a global impact.
Deforestation is responsible for nearly 15% of the carbon emissions that contribute to global warming. Ecuador’s coastal rainforests are among the most threatened forests in the world. Clear-cutting has lead these ecosystems to be reduced to less than 10% of their original range. Yet, this region remains one of the most biodiverse areas of the world. In collaboration with surrounding foundations, we intend to protect the Chocó Wet Forest, one of the last remaining habitats for a host of rare and endangered species.
In defense of this biological diversity, trees are chosen for extraction based on their importance within the surrounding ecosystem, not their monetary value. Following exceptional standards of sustainable forestry, we only harvest about 2.3 trees per acre every 20 years. For extraction, only portable sawmills are used and we’ve spent years innovating a system of cables to seamlessly transport wood out of the forest resulting in undisturbed wildlife and preventing the need for roads.
Through collective effort, conserving these rainforests will prevent a significant amount of carbon from being released into the atmosphere. This means all of our products are intrinsically carbon negative. It is our hope that this will not only offer an effective alternative to global deforestation, but will have a global impact on climate change.
Learn more about the carbon value of our products.
Learn more about our sustainability research.
We believe that the economic stability of local communities means a healthy forest.
When we established the company in 2002 most families in the town of Cristóbal Colón and surrounding communities earned a small living by clear-cutting forests to create monoculture plantations. After a number of years without optimal soil conditions crops begin to fail, land is then converted for cattle-grazing, and people are pushed to clear-cut more forest. Established as a community-owned enterprise with support from the Pinchot Institute for Conservation and the US Peace Corp., our aim was to reverse this cycle, stopping deforestation while helping families build a brighter economic future for their community.
We continue to collaborate on projects that help ensure the community's long-term prosperity. Working with Peace Corp. volunteers, a scholarship program was established. Construction of the area’s first health clinic and commitment to providing staff was supported in part by members of the Pinchot Institute and the Ecuadorian Government.
The local founders of the community enterprise are now shareholders in Whole Forest. Predominantly managed by women, the business now employs 70 people, 64 are community members. The majority were involved in illegal logging and agriculture prior to employment. By providing an average annual salary of $8,200 (compared to the average annual salary in Ecuador of $5,736) these employees have been able to discontinue their involvement in deforestation. Thanks to the aspiration and devotion of Cristóbal Colón, employment is growing, standards of living are rising, and local businesses are flourishing.