Angeli Mehta reports on how companies such as EcoPlanet Bamboo and Michelin are looking to turn a profit while helping to restore degraded land
The restoration of natural capital is known as the restoration economy and it is growing fast, according to research by the World Resources Institute and The Nature Conservancy, which suggests investors searching for the next growth opportunity could find it in trees. Over 25% of the world’s land area has been degraded over the past 50 years – a loss that costs us over $6.3trn a year.
Restoration projects employed 126,000 Americans in 2014, almost 60% more than were employed in coal mining. A 2015 study estimated that the US restoration economy generated $9.5bn in annual economic output.
These are multi-generational projects. In Nicaragua bamboo will create jobs for 90 to 120 years if managed correctly
One young company featured in the WRI report is Chicago-based EcoPlanet Bamboo. It aims to take the pressure off natural forests by developing select species of bamboo that will provide a source of timber and fibre for various industries. It also has a wider social purpose to create natural capital projects that will be accessible to smallholders.
In Nicaragua, EcoPlanet Bamboo is planting bamboo on degraded land that was once rainforest – destroyed to make way for agriculture, then cattle. A...