Rainforest Alliance certified 7.4 million acres of forestland to FSC standards in 2011, increased forest management area by 5% to 164 million acres

NEW YORK , April 12, 2012 (press release) – During 2011, the Rainforest Alliance demonstrated significant growth globally in sustainable agriculture, forestry, tourism, climate change and environmental education -- an upswing that can be attributed to widespread recognition of the Rainforest Alliance Certified™ seal and that is driving new and ongoing collaborations with farmers, foresters and businesses worldwide.

“Consumers and companies alike are increasingly embracing Rainforest Alliance certification,” said Tensie Whelan, president of the Rainforest Alliance. “The combined commitments of companies -- large and small -- play a key role in transforming our global marketplace into a more sustainable model, improving livelihoods and protecting natural resources for generations to come.”

2011 milestones for the Rainforest Alliance include:

  • The number of certified agricultural producers grew over 205 percent, while the area of Rainforest Alliance Certified farmland grew 55 percent.
  • 500 additional companies began buying or selling certified agricultural products.
  • Certified tea production increased threefold, reaching 9.4 percent of global production.
  • Certified coffee production grew 20 percent and sales increased 13 percent, while major coffee companies increased their sourcing commitments.
  • Certified cocoa production grew 75 percent, with Mars’ Dove and other major brands starting to carry the Rainforest Alliance Certified seal.
  • Two new crops, rooibos from South Africa and vanilla from Madagascar, began carrying the Rainforest Alliance Certified seal.
  • The Rainforest Alliance maintained its position as the world’s largest certifier to Forest Stewardship Council standards, increasing the area of certified forestlands by five percent.
  • Mattel Toy Products was added to the long list of major companies working with the Rainforest Alliance on sustainable sourcing.
  • The Rainforest Alliance verified the first two coffee farms to meet new “climate friendly” standards under the Sustainable Agriculture Network Climate Module.
  • The Rainforest Alliance verified or validated 13 new forest carbon projects.
Sustainable Agriculture:

In 2011, over 250,000 producers covering 1.1 million hectares (2.7 million acres) of farmland achieved Rainforest Alliance certification -- awarded to farms that have met the rigorous environmental, social and economic standards of the Sustainable Agriculture Network (SAN). This reflects a 205 percent growth in number of certified producers over 2010 and a 55 percent growth in area of certified farmland. The number of companies buying or selling Rainforest Alliance Certified products increased by 500, bringing the total number to nearly 3000, a 20 percent increase over the previous year.


The volume of Rainforest Alliance Certified tea produced in 2011 increased to over 425,000 metric tons, representing approximately 9.4 percent of global tea production, a threefold increase over the previous year. Over 260,000 smallholder tea farms in Kenya, Rwanda and Uganda are now certified. Demand for certified tea is especially strong in the UK, where major brands Yorkshire Tea, Twinings, Tetley and PG Tips all carry the Rainforest Alliance Certified seal. Mainland Europe’s largest tea brand, Teekanne, began sourcing from Rainforest Alliance Certified farms, while in the US, Lipton continued scaling up its sourcing and The Republic of Tea launched its first teas from certified gardens.


In 2011, more than 245,000 metric tons of coffee were produced on Rainforest Alliance Certified farms, an increase of 20 percent over 2010, and 129,864 metric tons of coffee were sold as Rainforest Alliance Certified, a 13 percent increase over the previous year. Rainforest Alliance Certified coffee now represents approximately 3.3 percent of the global market share. In Europe, EMMI Café Latte increased its commitment, sourcing 100 percent of its coffee from Rainforest Alliance Certified farms. Other companies including Tchibo, Kraft (Europe), Taylors of Harrogate, Peeze Koffie and Lofberg Lilla committed to sourcing exclusively sustainably grown coffees. In North America, Caribou Coffee achieved its goal of sourcing 100 percent of its coffee from certified farms, Second Cup scaled up its commitment, sourcing 100 percent of its espresso and 80 percent of its coffee from certified farms, and Reunion Island, Nespresso and Nescafe each increased their commitments. Japan Airlines also began serving certified coffee on all domestic and international flights.


Over 98,000 metric tons of Rainforest Alliance Certified cocoa were produced in 2011, a 75 percent increase over 2010, representing approximately 2.7 percent of global production. In North America, Mars announced that its Dove brand will be the first mainstream US chocolate brand to bear the seal and Blommer Chocolate furthered its commitment to sourcing from certified farms. In Australia, the iconic Mars bar was launched with the Rainforest Alliance Certified seal on pack. Lidl in Germany launched a new chocolate range featuring the seal and Unilever Magnum launched two varieties of ice cream -- Magnum Ghana and Magnum Ecuador -- made with Rainforest Alliance Certified cocoa. Other highlights include the signing of the Rainforest Alliance Climate Cocoa agreement with Olam in Ghana and the Greening the Cocoa Industry initiative between the Rainforest Alliance, the Global Environment Facility and the United Nations Environment Program.

Other Achievements:

Other achievements in 2011 include: two new additions to the family of Rainforest Alliance Certified crops carrying the seal -- rooibos from South Africa and vanilla from Madagascar; the launch of frozen certified bananas and pineapples at Whole Foods and certified bananas at Sam’s Club, which also started carrying certified flowers; and the launch of an online training platform -- www.sustainableagriculturetraining.org-- providing users globally with access to 19 training courses and over 150 training resources.

Sustainable Forestry:

In 2011, the Rainforest Alliance maintained its long-standing position as the leading certifier of Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) standards, certifying 7.4 million acres (3 million hectares) of forestland to FSC standards and increasing its overall forest management area by five percent to 164 million acres (66.3 million hectares) worldwide -- an area almost the size of Texas. To date, the Rainforest Alliance has certified 45 percent of FSC-certified land worldwide. FSC-certified forests curb deforestation, conserve soil and water, reduce waste and provide habitat for wildlife. Workers on certified forestlands benefit from safe working conditions, respectable housing, health care and education for their children. In 2011, the Rainforest Alliance issued 2,292 FSC Chain-of-Custody (CoC) certificates in 65 countries. Notably, eight new combined Forest Management/Chain-of-Custody (FM/CoC) certificates were issued in Canada, representing over 12.3 million acres (5 million hectares) of land, including Taan Forest Products in Haida Gawaii -- the first new certificate in British Columbia since 2009.

Community Forestry and Enterprise Development:

During 2011, the Rainforest Alliance provided assistance to over 150 small- and medium-sized community and indigenous forestry operations in 13 countries, covering nearly 5 million acres (2 million hectares) and benefiting over 6,000 households. This reflects a 50 percent increase in the number of communities assisted over the previous year. These operations derived more than US $20 million from sales of value-added certified and in-process-of-certification forest products. The Rainforest Alliance was also instrumental in the development of a Development Credit Authority project with USAID and BanRural in Guatemala, creating a US $17.2 million credit guarantee fund for local forest enterprise development.

Supply Chain Analysis and Assistance:

The Rainforest Alliance expanded its sustainable sourcing work with major companies, including a new collaboration with Mattel Toy Products and ongoing work with Staples, Gibson, Oriflame, ASDA, Kingfisher subsidiary Koctes, Glaxo Smith Kline and Marks & Spencer. The Rainforest Alliance also developed a cause marketing debit card campaign with Staples, which will raise between $400,000 and $1 million for the organization in 2012 -- the largest campaign of its kind.

Climate Change:

Deforestation currently accounts for 17 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions; so keeping forests standing -- and conserving the carbon they store -- can play a key role in reducing climate change. The Rainforest Alliance helps to address climate change by providing rigorous, independent assessments of forest carbon projects. During 2011, 13 forest carbon projects were verified or validated, bringing the total number of verifications and validations to 34, representing over 2.47 million acres (over 1 million hectares) of validated land across 17 countries and verified carbon emission reductions of 154,976 tCO2e.
  • The Rainforest Alliance audits forest carbon projects that have demonstrated an ability to sequester carbon dioxide and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. During 2011, the organization achieved a number of firsts, including:
  • Approval of the first Verified Carbon Standard (VCS) Improved Forest Management (IFM) Logged to Protected Forests (LtPF) Methodology;
  • In Canada, the first validation of an IFM LtPF project under the VCS;
  • In Latin America, the first VCS forest project verification;
  • In Mexico, the first forest carbon project to be validated to both the VCS and the Gold Level for the Climate Community and Biodiversity Alliance (CCB) Standard; and
  • The 10th Agriculture, Forestry and Other Land Use (AFOLU) project VCS validation, a milestone reflecting the Rainforest Alliance’s expertise as a forest carbon auditor and its experience in the VCS regime.
Reducing Emissions from Deforestation, Forest Degradation and Forest Conservation (REDD+):

The Rainforest Alliance initiated landscape-level REDD+ projects in Ecuador, Colombia, Peru and Mexico, designed to strengthen the institutional capacity needed for development of national systems for reducing emissions from deforestation and degradation. The organization also reached out to key stakeholders and policy makers at the United Nations Conference of Parties 17, emphasizing the role of REDD+ and sustainable land management with regard to climate change adaptation and mitigation.

Climate Change and Agriculture:

The Rainforest Alliance also promotes innovative steps that farmers can take to addresses climate change. Unsustainable agriculture drives deforestation and also results in significant carbon emissions, while sustainably certified farming represents an important opportunity for climate change mitigation and adaptation. In 2011 the Rainforest Alliance verified the first two coffee farms to met new “climate friendly” standards under the SAN Climate Module -- El Platanillo in Guatemala and Daterra in Brazil. Through implementing the module, these farms reduced their emissions while improving their ability to adapt to the effects of climate change.

Sustainable Tourism:

In 2011, the Rainforest Alliance was nominated for the Corporate Social Responsibility Award by the Costa Rica Tourism Chamber (CANATUR). The Rainforest Alliance provides training and technical assistance to tourism businesses in Latin America and verifies their compliance with standards for environmental, social and economic sustainability. During 2011, the Rainforest Alliance launched Tour Operators Promoting Sustainability (TOPS), a global network of tour operators dedicated to promoting and supporting sustainable tourism in their markets. Up to 2011, the number of tourism businesses working with the Rainforest Alliance grew 12 percent, bringing the total number up to 661 in eight Latin American countries.

Environmental Education:

The Rainforest Alliance works to help students of all ages understand the role each of us plays in conserving natural resources. During 2011 the organization worked directly with 714 teachers and 11,400 students in Brooklyn, New York, Newark, New Jersey and Jacksonville, Florida, and an additional 109 teachers and 4,000 students in Guatemala, Colombia and Ghana -- helping them build their understanding of global forestry issues and the role trees play in climate change. In schools throughout Guatemala’s Maya Biosphere Reserve, the Rainforest Alliance empowered students to protect their local environment through creating action projects such as river clean-up campaigns, educational radio programs, reforestation activities and recycling initiatives. The organization also collaborated with Project Learning Tree to pilot new early childhood environmental education resources with over 100 Head Start and other early childhood service providers. The Rainforest Alliance Learning Site received more than 3 million views and downloads in 2011, and a new iPad app, entitled Rainforest Survival Challenge added to its resources, teaching children about interconnections between plants and animals in the Amazon rainforest.

Finally, in 2011 the Rainforest Alliance launched the first annual Rainforest Alliance Week, a social media campaign to raise awareness about how consumers can support healthy farms and forestlands and a more sustainable future. With some 40 companies conducting promotions, hosting events and posting social media content, and 30 online media and bloggers promoting the campaign, three million social media impressions were made.

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