World Wildlife Fund and Tropical Forest Challenge innovators

Tropical rainforest pic

Tropical rainforest, photo by Debra Atlas

World Wildlife Fund Switzerland has announced the winners of the Tropical Forest Challenge. The World Wildlife Fund helps conserve some of the world’s most important natural places – including the largest tropical rain forests and the most remote areas of our planet – as well as endangered species. The objective of the Tropical Forest Challenge is to discover the most innovative for-profit enterprises from around the world that have a positive impact on tropical forest biodiversity.

The winner of this year’s company category is RUNA, a companythat creates livelihoods for indigenous farmers in the Ecuadorian Amazon by creating markets for indigenous products, specifically guayusa tea. RUNA utilizes Fair Trade to unite the priorities of income generation, cultural preservation and sustainable management of natural resources. RUNA has generated over $100,000 of direct income to over 2,000 farming families and planted over 150,000 trees since 2009.

This is one of the 3 categories of the Challenge. The other two are:

  • Idea: A full concept note describing the solution
  • Startup: A successful  solution tested with potential customers (Proof-of-market)

Each category winner will get a $1,000 EUR cash reward and global visibility through a publication and online promotion.

Planting Empwerment's sustainable reforestation project

Planting Empowerment’s sustainable reforestation project

The  winner for the Start-up category is Panama’s Planting Empowerment, a company that develops forestry projects that delivers financial, social and environmental benefits. Founded in 2006,  the company works with sustainable forestry, using a mixed species planting model. It also incorporates initiatives such as biochar and agroforestry to generate more consistent revenues from forests while promoting biodiversity. To date, Planting Empowerment has planted 27,500 trees and ensured that farmers are earning 45% more income.

Congratulations to the winners!

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