Forests of the World
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About: Mission

The Problem One of the major threats to forests is that people residing near these forests cut them down. They need enough food to eat, clothing to wear, safe sturdy housing, and some things that can only be purchased from other parts of the world. Since they are often very poor, with little education and few modern resources, clearing land for lumber and farms can seem like their only choice.

But even this isn't a permanent solution: the soil is frequently so unstable or leached from rain that it is fertile for barely one crop rotation. In addition, entire populations of forest animals -- even endangered species -- are lost as their habitat is destroyed or they are hunted for food or the pet trade.

Still, if local villages are impoverished, starving, and growing, it's a challenge to persuade people not to take what they can from the forest immediately.

A Solution A report by the United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organization states:

"If local people benefit from enterprises that depend on the sustainable use of forest resources, they can reasonably be expected to support the conservation of these ecosystems..."

One strategy is to use an integrated conservation and development project (ICDP) that could, for example, create a core protected land area, with increasingly intensive uses of the land as one moves away into "buffer" zones. Such a "biosphere reserve" model also allows the ecosystem to respond flexibly to global climate change. An integrated approach would at the same time create a management system that ensures the land will be a source of income and sustenance forever.

It's not enough for a central agency to just set up preservation zones. The local population has to support a plan like this, or it won't work. They'll support it if it will reward their talent and hard work with a better life.

Many people are working on projects like these, helping villages around the world create products and services that allow them to make a living while leaving their forests for future generations.

Our Part How does a villager in Madagascar sell a handbag to someone in Chicago? How does a boutique owner in Atlanta find a unique chess set that was produced in Guyana, and how can she know its makers were fairly paid? Someone has to link the artisan groups that create these crafts to the thousands of faraway retailers who sell them.

Forests of the World fills this niche, bringing the fruits of these projects to market, sending money back to the people who've earned and need it.

One of our fundamental goals is to link the purchase of crafts from the developing world with the task of creating a better life for artisans, while simultaneously conserving the ecology of the regions where they live.

We see the economy, the environment, and human culture as inseparable parts of an integrated whole, where each piece of the puzzle depends on the others to give the whole its shape.

We believe that if consumers and retailers know that there is a way to shop responsibly and still find beautiful, high-quality products, they'll do it. You'll do it.

Forests of the World, LLC
1410 Cross St. / Durham, NC 27701
(919) 957-1500 / info @