skip to primary navigationskip to content

Resilience in commercial forestry: Doing business with nature

March 2017 – A new Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership report presents the case for natural resources to be better considered in commercial forestry decision-making processes.

Download the ‘Resilience in commercial forestry’ summary report

Download the technical report

Forestry reportContext

Now, more than ever, companies are urged to recognise the fundamental role that nature’s goods and services play in business operations.

Commercial forestry, which includes timber as well as pulp and paper, is fundamentally dependent on natural resources such as water, biodiversity, soil and carbon. To maintain competitiveness, differentiate themselves in the market and secure long-term resilience, companies along the supply chain should aim to manage the risks and opportunities associated with natural resources.

A number of efforts and initiatives, including those spearheaded by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and certification bodies, support companies in building sustainability and resilience. Within this context, companies are working to improve understanding of how practices on the ground and sourcing or purchasing decisions downstream can impact on natural resources.

About the Commercial Forestry Action Research Collaboratory

As natural resources are crucial for the long-term supply of raw materials, it is important to empower the forestry sector to better manage them. The sector has come a long way to improve the sustainable management of commercial forests; there is now an opportunity to build on existing efforts by better measuring and communicating corporate impacts on natural resources.

The report highlights how businesses impact and depend on water, biodiversity, soil and carbon and looks at existing efforts to address the related challenges. It suggests that it is possible for the sustainable management of production landscapes to simultaneously benefit natural resources and build resilience in the commercial forestry sector. Better understanding how commercial forestry impacts and depends on natural resources will facilitate the necessary research, collaboration and action going forward.

The ARC series

This work is part of a series of ‘Doing business with nature’ publications, which identify challenges and opportunities for companies whose future growth depends on a healthy and sustained supply of nature’s goods and services, known as ‘natural capital’. The rationale for investing in natural capital management is set out in Doing business with nature: Opportunities from natural capital and has been further developed through commodity-specific ARCs for dairy in the UK and Ireland, for cotton and for commercial forestry.

Citing this report

Please refer to this report as University of Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership (CISL). (2017). Resilience in commercial forestry: Doing business with nature. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership.

Published: March 2017

Share this


The principal investigators and authors of this report are: Hannah Tranter and Dr Gemma Cranston of the University of Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership. The authors would like to thank Mondi for its involvement in this project.


The opinions expressed here are those of the authors and do not represent an official position of CISL, or any of its individual business partners or clients.