High Integrity Forest Investment Initiative

High Integrity Forest (HIFOR) units are a new tradable asset that recognizes and rewards the essential climate services and biodiversity conservation that intact tropical forests provide, including ongoing net removal of CO2 from the atmosphere.

Photo Credit: ©Carlos Cesar Durigan/WCS

The HIFOR asset would complement existing financing instruments to reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (e.g., REDD+) by incentivizing the protection of high integrity tropical forests — i.e. those that are largely undegraded. In addition to their role in climate regulation, these tropical forests are generally recognized as the highest biodiversity ecosystems on Earth.

Each HIFOR unit represents:

Learn more about this new initiative below.

HIFOR Initiative Background

Science of Intact Forests

  • Securing the climate benefits of stable forests [Funk et al]
  • Importance of Indigenous Peoples' lands for the conservation of Intact Forest Lanscapes [Fa, Watson et al]
  • Degradation and forgone removals increase the carbon impact of intact forest loss by 626% [Maxwell et al]
  • The last frontiers of wilderness: Tracking loss of intact forest landscapes from 2000 to 2013 [Potapov et al]
  • Anthropogenic modification of forests means only 40% of remaining forests have high ecosystem integrity [Grantham et al]

What's At Stake

  • Accelerated cropland expansion into high integrity forests and protected areas globally in the 21st century [Wang et al]
  • Tropical deforestation causes large reductions in observed precipitation [Smith et al]
  • Risk of intact forest landscape loss goes beyond global agricultural supply chains [Kan et al]
  • The Panama Canal may dry up because of Amazon deforestation [PIIE]


The Wildlife Conservation Society hosted a webinar with participants from WCS, The Biodiversity Consultancy Ltd, World Resources Institute, and Climate Focus about the Forest Landscape Integrity Index (FLII)—a rigorous, tested tool for measuring the integrity of global ecosystems.


New Beyond Value Chain Mitigation Guidance from the Science Based Targets Initiative: How Corporate Finance Should Reduce Climate Risks to the Global Economy

WCS's Dan Zarin writes about the new guidance that highlights important opportunities for corporations to own their responsibility for mitigating climate crisis risks to the global economy. Specifically, through protection of high integrity forests. These forests are also essential for biodiversity and local livelihoods.

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At COP28: WCS and Republic of Congo Sign MoU on Implementation of a High-Integrity Forest Investment Initiative in Nouabalé-Ndoki National Park

Recognizing the importance of ecological integrity to biodiversity conservation and ecosystem services, including climate regulation, the Government of the Republic of Congo, represented by the Ministry of Forest Economy, and WCS have initiated a new program to attract investment in the conservation of high-integrity tropical forests.

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News from CoP27 Climate Conference: WCS Brasil and State of Amazonas Agree to Pilot Program Paying Stewards of High Integrity Tropical Forests

WCS Brasil and the State of Amazonas agreed to work together to develop the first pilot areas for a new high integrity forest investment initiative designed to pay the stewards of high integrity tropical forests for the ecosystem services those forests provide, including their CO2 absorption, which helps cool the planet. The agreement was signed at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Climate Conference.

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*For additional information, please contact Ashley Camhi (acamhi@wcs.org).

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