What do cities have to do with tropical forests? Why should they care?

With their high concentrations of people, influence, and consumption, cities’ actions will be key to meeting climate change targets and protecting the planet. Tropical forests hold vast amounts of carbon, are home to most of our land-based biodiversity, and play a vital role in maintaining water cycles.

Cities are often unaware that their consumption is responsible for the majority of tropical deforestation, through everyday commodities like palm oil, soy, rubber, cacao, metals, petroleum, coffee and wood.


And although tropical forests represent 30% of the total climate solution, cities have not yet incorporated forest conservation into their climate change agendas.

How can cities support "faraway" tropical forests?

Building awareness of the interdependencies between cities and ‘faraway’ forests – and then mobilizing cities to become advocates for forest conservation – is an essential goal of Cities4Forests. Cities can help sequester millions of tons of carbon through partnerships with communities working to protect forests – a major step towards restoring the Earth’s biodiversity and carbon balance – while creating opportunities for some of the world’s poorest people. These “local-to-local” partnerships can lead to significant global change, and demonstrate the power of “think globally, act locally”.

Outcomes

  • Exciting programs for city residents, private sector and government;

  • Opportunities for forest communities to expand business and conservation work;

  • Connecting youth on both sides of the partnership, to each other and to opportunities for learning and livelihoods;

  • Awareness of tropical forests by city residents, and government;

  • Innovate financial models and business partnerships;

  • Global culture that protects and restores forests.

How the partnerships work

Around the world hundreds of forest communities are protecting the environment and producing quality products, but often lack access to markets for their forest-friendly goods.

 

To support these enterprises and access the high quality products they produce, participating cities can be paired-up with a carefully selected forest community in our partner forest database.

These partnerships can take various forms, for example, the procurement of sustainably-sourced wood for use in a city landmark, forest carbon credits, or the use of non-timber forest products, like coffee, cocoa or rubber.

Additional programming may include research and travel exchanges for citizens, students, and leaders between the forest and the city.

The Cities4Forests Partner Forest Program connects cities with specific tropical forest areas and communities for mutual benefit, and in support of forest conservation and restoration strategies.

Partner Forests program presentation.

New York City recently awarded Brooklyn Bridge Forest first prize in a competition to reimagine the Brooklyn Bridge. 

The proposal envisions sourcing the wood planks from a Partner Forest community in Petén, Guatemala, and includes
a suite of sustainability and communications activities.