TFF has a unique role among the organizations that work on conservation issues, TFF’s founding chair told the Board of Directors and guests at the annual Board dinner at the Army & Navy Club in Washington, DC. Dr. Thomas E. Lovejoy, who was Assistant Secretary for Environment and External Affairs at the Smithsonian Institution when TFF was established in 1990, is now a professor at George Mason University and holds the Biodiversity Chair at the Heinz Center for Science, Economics, and the Environment. He is past president of the Heinz Center.
"People still need forest products, we still rely on the tropical forest. This organization has found a really important way to contribute, namely low-impact logging and training people on how to do that,” Lovejoy said. “I have been there with Keister [Evans, former TFF Executive Director] and others, and it is night and day both in terms of what it does to the forest and biodiversity but also to the carbon stock of those forests.
"In the end we need more forests than we have now; we need to use the tropical forests that we manage for various goods and services in ways that make them resilient and able to recover and continue to produce.
"There is the Tropical Forest Foundation, right in the center of what needs to be done to make all of that work. There is no other organization that isn’t… encumbered by a whole series of other considerations, that addresses this key piece that the Tropical Forest Foundation is addressing."
Lovejoy went on to say that the mission of TFF has only grown in importance compared to what the leaders were thinking fifteen or twenty years ago. Earlier in the day, he had participated by conference call in a discussion of TFF direction, strategy, and funding.
"Having listened this afternoon about the complicated funding and partnership landscape, of course it is challenging. But buried in all of that are going to be other opportunities that no other organization can deliver [on] and that the world really needs. I am convinced that [the opportunities are] there.
"I am so grateful that this organization exists, that it does what it does, and that all of you are helping it move forward," he concluded.