What is Global Canopy Programme?

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The Global Canopy Programme (GCP) is an NGO bringing together an alliance of 38 leading scientific institutions in the UK in order to protect the world's tropical forests.


Background, Rationale and Main Goal

The Global Canopy Programme was founded by Andrew Mitchell in 2001, in recognition of the urgency and time sensitive nature of protecting the world's tropical forests[1].

Tropical forests are a source of a myriad of benefits encompassing biodiversity, natural capital and ecosystem services. These include:

  • Water cycle regulation and purification.
  • Food security through soil stabilization and nutrient retention. Tropical forests are also a source of food for local communities.
  • Energy security through protecting environmental watershed sustainability which is essential in areas reliant on hydroelectricity sources. This is especially important in Brazil where two-thirds of their energy supply comes from hydroelectricity.
  • Health protection derived from of tropical pharmaceutical products valued at approximately $108 billion per year and medicinal sources for local communities.
  • Livelihood protection for over a billion people around the world who depend on tropical forests.
  • Climate buffering including carbon capture and storage, and decreasing the likelihood of extreme weather events. Ensuring that forests stay intact also helps to prevent the further explosion of greenhouse gas emissions.

The current global mind-set and market that fail to take into account these realities means tropical forests are currently worth more deforested than intact and providing all of these services. The goal of GCP is to create and implement policy and financial mechanisms that recognize the above mentioned benefits[2].

International network approach and mechanisms

An international network approach is used by GCP to create mechanisms that contribute to global conservation, education and research on climate change.

The GCP works to synthesize the combined resources and expertise of its 38 partner organisations by developing projects in the areas of science, policy and business.

Scientific Development Projects

Through its Scientific Development Projects, GCP aims to advance and promote research and development on the maintenance of tropical ecosystems.

  • Valuing tropical forests as eco-utilities: this project will add to the evidence and research on how the Amazon basin works to provide ecosystem services or 'eco-utilitly".
  • Canopy Cats: a conservation, research and training program to protect and preserve the five species of cats living in Borneo.
  • Canopy Access Training: a project designed to fill the historical knowledge gap of forest canopies. The project has two platforms: the first is the implementation and study of the Canopy Access Proficiency (CAP) system developed by Canopy Access Ltd. The second half of the project is the development of a standardised approach for roping the canopy from the ground.

Policy Mechanisms

  • The REDD Desk: a project that provides resources and information on REDD+ principles, guideline and projects[1].
  • Proactive Investment in Natural Capital (PINC): is a joint project with the London School of Economics to explore and evaluate current forest financing mechanisms and from there develop new mechanisms for including the assessed value in development planning[1].
  • The Little Book Series: a series of publications summarizing current international policy negotiations[1].
  • Forests Now: a publicity campaign with the aim of educating various stakeholder groups of the critical importance of forests in combatting and buffering against climate change[1].

Financial Mechanisms

  • Forest Footprint Disclosure Project: modelled after the carbon disclosure project, the project helps organisation measure their impact on forest through tracking their 'forest footprint'[1].
  • Canopy Capital: the idea of this Project is buying licence to measure, and then value the ecosystem services provided by partner organisation [[Iwokrama International Centre for Rainforest Conservation

|Iwokrama International Centre for Rainforest Conservation and Development (IIC)]]. The benefits of these ecosystem services are sold just like a utility bill and the income is used to help make Iwokrama financially independent of institutional donors[1].

  • Understanding Forest Bonds: as part of the Proactive Investment in Natural Capital program, this project explored how bonds could be leveraged to access capital for forest finance [3].
  • Natural Capital Declaration: s declaration to be launched at the Rio +20 Earth Summit in 2012. It is a commitment by financial institutions to incorporate the value of natural capital in financial products and services[1].

Strategic Partners and Major Funding Sources

The GCP works with a network of research institutions around the world, partnering with local communities on various projects. Major donors include[1]:

  • Ashden Trust
  • British Airways
  • CHK Charities Limited
  • Climate and Land Use Alliance
  • ClimateWorks Foundation
  • Conservation International
  • Convention on Biological Diversity
  • Darwin Initiative
  • David and Lucille Packard Foundation
  • Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
  • Department for International Development
  • Dulverton Trust
  • Ernest Kleinwort Charitable Trust
  • Esmée Fairbairn Foundation
  • ESPA
  • Go Ape
  • Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation
  • HDH Wills Trust
  • JMG Wealth Management Group
  • John Ellerman Foundation
  • Oak Foundation
  • Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation
  • Rufford Foundation
  • Waterloo Foundation


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 1.7 1.8 Global Canopy Programme: ‘’Applying Tropical Forest Intelligence’‘. Accessed from http://www.globalcanopy.org/
  2. The Little Biodiversity Finance Book: A guide to proactive investment in natural capital (PINC) Global Canopy Programme. Accessed from http://www.globalcanopy.org/materials/little-biodiversity-finance-book
  3. Workshop on Innovative Finance For Tropical Forests. Global Canopy Programme. Accessed from http://www.globalcanopy.org/materials