This definition of “Impact Investing for Sustainable Forestry” is a first approach to formulate a vision of a strong sustainable forestry and an ethically responsible practice of investing in forestry. The definition is not complete, neither right nor false. It is a starting point for a journey on the trails of sustainability in forestry. The way is dynamic and should be discussed critically. We welcome every contribution and active participation to further develop this definition and vision towards reality.

Core objective and maxims

  • Impact Investing for Sustainable Forestry (IISF) describes the provision of forest management and financing forestry which consequently pursues, as their main objective, a positive contribution to the regeneration and stabilization of productive forest and agroforestry landscapes today and in the future.
  • In IISF, the focus is on satisfying existing needs of forestry resources (timber and non-timber forest products) and environmental services in the real economy and the society whilst simultaneously taking into account their social, cultural, ecological and economic sustainability. Furthering sustainable forestry by generating multiple returns (social-, financial- and ecological returns) is at its core. Generating a monetary profit is not an end but a frequent prerequisite to guaranteeing the necessary flexibility for pursuing its objective in a continuously changing environment.
  • IISF describes a process, not a steady state. It is about jointly identifying and testing creative new ways to come close to the sustainable use of forest resources. This involves multiple aspects and demands, which are sometimes conflicting and often necessitate compromise. Therefore, IISF depends on an ongoing and constructive dialogue of the people involved in and affected by its activities, as well as on a continuous reflection of their respective motives (why?), actions (what?) and approaches (how?).


  • IISF is based on a „Triple Bottom Line“ approach for the simultaneous consideration of multiple success criteria with the intention to generate measurable social and environmental impact alongside a financial return.
  • Projects and investors following IISF are characterized by their commitment to a catalog of socially, culturally, ecologically and ethically oriented negative and positive criteria to prevent unsustainable ways of forest management and investing in forestry. The performance of these criteria is monitored and published in a transparent way.
  • IISF connects researchers and practitioners to further forest management and investing in the highest possible sustainability level by using traditional knowledge as well as advanced technology and science.
  • IISF seeks ways to transform conventional forest economy towards higher sustainability.
  • On organizational level IISF advocates
    • Structures which are based on participation,
    • A dialogue with a wider group of stakeholders,
    • Transparency in all business conducts,
    • Ownership structures that prevent dependency of dominant individual interests,
    • Pro-active contributions to the public discussion of perceived problem areas,
    • Rejection of the profit maximization principle, exploitation of forest resources and of speculative activities,
    • Maximization of a positive (sustainable) impact.

Our definition of Impact Investing for Sustainable Forestry is borrowed from the definition of Social Banking by the Institute for Social Banking ( and has been extended by OpenForests.

Descriptive charts

Differences conventional & strong sustainability

Major differences between sustainable forestry and conventional forestry

Tripple Bottom Line in Forestry_strong sustainable(1)

Triple Bottom Line model to measure the development of the long-term organizational success


Founder and CEO, OpenForests. Passioned about finding answers to the burning questions of our time. With our tools, we want to connect people and forests.