The Business of Planting Trees

The Business of Planting Trees


There has never been a better time to invest in land restoration. Governments have committed to restore 160 million hectares—an area larger than South Africa. These commitments are spurring increased demand for businesses that can deliver large projects cost-effectively.

Restoring degraded land has the potential to become big business. Established companies and entrepreneurs are finding new ways to make money from sustainably managed forests and farms. Some are responding to governmental incentives. Others
are responding directly to the market, restoring land to generate new products and services, or to differentiate their offerings from the competition. Such enterprises are profiting very nicely by breathing new life into unproductive land.

Some entrepreneurs are betting that a huge new business opportunity for natural carbon capture and sequestration will emerge as more governments charge a fee for emissions that drive climate change. New research by The Nature Conservancy, World Resources Institute and other partners shows that restoration and other land management improvements could provide more than a third of the emissions reductions necessary to keep global warming under 2 degrees C. Yet hurdles remain. And one of the biggest hurdles is funding.

Many investors know little about restoration opportunities. This report can help. It includes case studies of 14 innovative enterprises across eight countries. They cover a fascinating range of activities, from drones that shoot seeds into hardened soils to genetic research on tree species threatened with extinction. Many of these businesses are expanding rapidly—one grew from 110 employees to 450 in just 18 months.

The restoration economy is at the take-off stage. New business models are emerging, technology is advancing and governments are showing political will. This is great news for investors looking for the next growth opportunity. And this is good news for the planet, since restoring land can provide clean water, improved livelihoods and enhanced biodiversity—all while pulling back to the earth the excess atmospheric carbon that would otherwise be heating the planet.

Opportunities have never been greater. The task has never been more urgent. An ancient Chinese proverb says: “The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The next best time is now.” We hope that, after reading this report, investors and entrepreneurs will agree and be inspired to make money by taking up the business of growing trees.


Publisher: WRI & The Nature Conservancy


Year: 2019