How Asset Managers Use Climate Science to Future-Proof Global Forests

World's largest natural capital manager is embracing the "nature positive framework" ahead of the TFND.

Fri 19 Jan 24


The world’s largest natural capital manager, with more than $15 billion in forest assets under management, is working with climate experts from MIT and the University of California-Davis to monitor forests over a 50-year period.

That is according to a “timberland and agricultural natural disclosure” published by Manulife Investment Management, which, in 2022, acquired a new tool to “conduct climate-scenario planning across its portfolio of timberland and agricultural assets.”

Manulife Investment Management, previously known as Hancock Natural Resource Group, has extensive forest assets across the US, Canada, Australia, Brazil, and Chile and is among early adopters in producing a timberland and agricultural disclosure. 

It is “an important milestone,” according to Brian Kernohan, Chief Sustainability Officer, that reaffirms Manulife’s “commitment to nature and our support for the TNFD framework.”

The TNFD Recommendations and Additional Guidance provide the building blocks to help businesses and financial institutions better understand their nature-related impacts, dependencies, risks and opportunities – footage courtesy of @taskforcenature.

As reported in September, 40 of the world’s largest financial institutions are behind a new “nature positive” framework known as the Taskforce for Financial-Related Disclosures (TFND) – a new standard ensuring decisions are made with Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) in mind.

In addition, global banks are now demanding action on biodiversity, deforestation and land clearing as part of a general push to ensure that nature “is considered alongside financial, operational and climate risks.”

According to Thomas Sarno, Manuflife’s Global Head of Timberland Investments, “nature-related dependencies, impacts, risks, and opportunities are considered throughout our business, from the initial stages of investment due diligence to the operational management.”

This includes forest certification, with 100% of global assets meeting FSC, SFI and PEFC requirements for sustainable forest management.

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Manulife Investment Management is among the world’s largest producers of timber-producing forest plantations and is a key player in meeting the future demand for global timber. (Photo Credit: from the Manulife Investment Management timberland and agricultural natural disclosure)

As the parent company, Manulife is among the world’s largest growers of plantation species – including Douglas fir, Radiata pine, Western Red cedar, Slash pine and Carrebean pine and will play an elevated role in meeting future demand for timber-based products.

“We strive to proactively assess and manage nature-related risks and opportunities to help our clients achieve their objectives and build resilient portfolios,” Mr Sarno said.

Under the new TFND guidelines, financial institutions must assess biodiversity impacts and dependencies as part of the Location, Evaluate, Assess and Prepare approach – known as the LEAP Framework.

Several global financial institutions – including the Australian-based Westpac- have already seen several global financial institutions adopt “natural capital position statements, which will, for the first time, establish nature-related financial disclosure targets for deforestation, land clearing, biodiversity, and conservation within its corporate policy.

The push towards “nature positive investments” comes amid reports that global banks are investing US $300 billion or more into industries that supercharge deforestation, biodiversity loss, and climate chaos, driving destruction across Southeast Asia, Central and West Africa, and parts of South America.


  • Jason Ross

    Jason Ross, publisher, is a 15-year professional in building and construction, connecting with more than 400 specifiers. A Gottstein Fellowship recipient, he is passionate about growing the market for wood-based information. Jason is Wood Central's in-house emcee and is available for corporate host and MC services.


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