Mission & Impact
WE BELIEVE OUR IMPACT IS AS IMPORTANT AS OUR PRODUCT.
We focus on fostering a symbiotic relationship between US consumers, Ecuadorian communities, and Ecuador’s threatened rainforests. Each sale of our architectural surfaces directly correlates to a lower incentive for locals to clear-cut, and increases the odds of the Ecuadorian rainforest remaining intact. Currently, tropical deforestation causes 15% of the carbon emissions that lead to global warming. Our mission is to slow climate change by addressing the primary drivers of deforestation.
Previously, the forest communities we’re engaged in turned to clear-cutting and illegal logging for a source of income. We're helping them transition to an alternative income based on sustainable forest management and product manufacturing. We sustainably harvest a minimal amount of trees from their land, and design products that utilize the majority of the forest’s species. Our consideration for the whole forest raises its value, ultimately protecting the forest and all that inhabits it.
Since founding the company in 2002, we've evolved into a vertically-integrated social venture, collaborating with numerous organizations and over 500 families. At our core, we’re a conservation organization, but our passion for producing beautiful wood products is what supports our mission. With your backing, we can conserve threatened tropical rainforests, and continue to push the boundaries of what green building materials can accomplish.
WE BELIEVE PROTECTING TROPICAL RAINFORESTS HAS A GLOBAL IMPACT.
Deforestation is responsible for nearly 15% of the carbon emissions that contribute to global warming. Ecuador’s coastal rainforests are among the most threatened forests in the world. Clear-cutting has lead these ecosystems to be reduced to less than 10% of their original range. Yet, this region remains one of the most biodiverse areas of the world. In collaboration with surrounding foundations, we intend to protect the Chocó Wet Forest, one of the last remaining habitats for a host of rare and endangered species.
In defense of this biological diversity, trees are chosen for extraction based on their importance within the surrounding ecosystem, not their monetary value. Following exceptional standards of sustainable forestry, we only harvest about 2.3 trees per acre every 20 years. For extraction, only portable sawmills are used. We’ve also spent years innovating a system of cables to seamlessly transport wood out of the forest. By preventing the need for roads, the surrounding wildlife has remained undisturbed.
Conserving these rainforests will prevent a significant amount of carbon from being released into the atmosphere. This means that all of our products are intrinsically carbon negative. It is our hope to offer an effective alternative to global deforestation, and to have a global impact on climate change.
WE BELIEVE THE ECONOMIC STABILITY OF LOCAL COMMUNITIES MEANS A HEALTHY FOREST.
When we established the company in 2002 most families in the town of Cristóbal Colón and surrounding communities earned a small living by clear-cutting forests to create monoculture plantations. After a number of years without optimal soil conditions crops began to fail, land was converted for cattle-grazing, and people pushed to clear-cut more forest. Established as a community-owned enterprise with support from the Pinchot Institute for Conservation and the US Peace Corp., our aim was to reverse this cycle, stopping deforestation while helping families build a brighter economic future for their community.
We continue to collaborate with organizations on projects that help ensure the community's long-term prosperity. Working with Peace Corp. volunteers, a scholarship program was established. Construction of the area’s first health clinic and commitment to providing staff was supported in-part by members of the Pinchot Institute and the Ecuadorian Government.
The local founders of the community enterprise are now shareholders in Whole Forest. Predominantly managed by women, the business now employs 70 people, 64 are community members. Prior to working with Whole Forest, the majority of our employees were involved in illegal logging and agriculture. By providing an average annual salary of $8,200 (compared to the average annual salary in Ecuador of $5,736) these employees have been able to discontinue their involvement in deforestation. Thanks to the aspiration and devotion of Cristóbal Colón, employment is growing, standards of living are rising, and local businesses are flourishing.