Stream of water surrounded by forest, Carlos Botelho State Park, São Paulo, Brazil.

Collaboration will help create first-ever Science-Based Targets for Forests and scale up forest restoration in Brazil.

How much forest land—and what quality—is needed to ensure forests can continue to provide people, plants and animals worldwide with the clean air and water, food and other “services” they need to thrive? In other words, what are the ecological tipping points for forests that we need to stay well above?

Through a new collaboration between WWF-US and International Paper (IP)—a participant in WWF-North America’s Global Forest & Trade Network (GFTN) programme and one of the world’s largest packaging, pulp and paper companies—research and assessments will be undertaken with a number of entities to help come up with the answer. This information will be used to create the world’s first regional and global science-based targets for forests, as well as the first comprehensive set of guidance on actions that can be taken to sustain the world’s forests.

The actions, which can be taken individually or collectively by companies, governments, NGOs and others, include investing in responsible forest management, supporting jurisdictional approaches to forest conservation, restoring forest land, and raising awareness about forests with consumers.

The collaboration will bring one such action to life—investing in a new ambitious restoration project in a 1.4 million hectare river basin called the Mogi Guaçu, which is in the Atlantic Forest of Brazil. The Atlantic Forest, spanning Brazil, Paraguay and Argentina, is one of the 11 deforestation fronts identified by WWF. The deforestation fronts are the areas where most deforestation is expected by 2030 if new approaches to forest conservation are not adopted.

The Atlantic Forest provides water for 60 per cent of Brazil’s population and is home to many species, including pumas, anteaters and woolly spider monkeys, as well as several bird species found nowhere else on the planet. The hope of WWF-US, WWF-Brazil – which will be coordinating the restoration work – and IP is that this work will inspire other entities to invest in forest restoration in Brazil and beyond.

Through the collaboration, IP wants to signal that investing in the long-term sustainability of natural resources, including forests, makes economic sense. IP, for example, relies on the water and other services that these forests provide to produce paper and other fiber-based products that people depend on every day.

Both WWF and IP plan to highlight the vital role companies play in ensuring forests stay well above their ecological tipping points. It is especially important for US companies to act, as the US is home to some of the world’s largest companies that depend directly or indirectly on forest resources. As a result, they have tremendous power to drive change at the global level—such as in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)—and local level.