Around the world, 1.3 billion people live on less than $1.25 a day. Left with few options, many communities resort to clearing land for subsistence agriculture, cutting down trees for firewood and selling illegal timber on the black market, often at prices far below the wood’s real value. The small income earned from these activities is rarely enough to lift communities out of poverty.
It is pointless to tell an impoverished family or community to put down the axe without providing an alternative. Through technical assistance, the Rainforest Alliance and its partners work with farmers and forest managers to provide them with the tools and know-how to manage their natural resources. Those that meet rigorous environmental, social and economic standards can use the Rainforest Alliance Certified™ seal to differentiate their products, reach new markets, negotiate better prices, improve their access to credit and lift themselves and their communities out of poverty.
These strategies are working. According to a 2012 study by the Committee on Sustainability Assessment, Rainforest Alliance Certified cocoa farms in Cote d’Ivoire—one of the 20 poorest countries in the world—produced 40 percent more cocoa per acre than noncertified farms and increased their net incomes by a factor of four. And after receiving technical assistance from the Rainforest Alliance and local partners, a group of community forestry businesses in Guatemala—where 75 percent of the population lives below the poverty line—tripled its sales by selling decking, flooring and guitar parts instead of rough lumber; the group’s income more than doubled and more than 400 jobs were generated annually.
We also help indigenous groups and local communities to establish and operate sustainable tourism businesses, which can provide them with an economically viable alternative to deforestation. Through training and verification, we encourage tourism entrepreneurs to hire local employees and source their goods and services from local businesses, creating an economic ripple effect within communities and surrounding areas.
These businesses are thriving—and the benefits are spreading. When our researchers followed the money trail from five sustainable tourism businesses in Granada, Nicaragua—the second poorest country in Latin America—they found that for each dollar that visitors spent at these businesses, another $1.58 was spent elsewhere in the city, touching virtually all sectors of Granada’s economy and generating significant tax revenue.
Help us to eradicate poverty around the globe by choosing Rainforest Alliance Certified food, beverages, wood and paper products when you shop, and patronizing Rainforest Alliance Verified hotels when you travel.