Thriving Together: Fresh Del Monte's Approach to Farming with Biodiversity
Fresh Del Monte Produce
At Fresh Del Monte, we commit to planting and donating 2.5 million trees and conserving 10,000 hectares of land in and around our farms by 2025, while involving and uplifting our communities
Biodiversity, the biological variety and variability of life in a given area, increases the overall health and resiliency of a landscape by supplying oxygen, clean air, and water; sequestering carbon from the atmosphere; supporting the pollination of plants; and more. At Fresh Del Monte, we strive to be part of a new food system where agricultural production, local communities and biodiversity are working and thriving together. We know that habitat fragmentation is one of today’s biggest threats to biodiversity, so we work to preserve forests and increase habitat connectivity in our operations. This is particularly important, as we grow in countries with key subtropical and tropical ecosystems that support incredible amounts of biodiversity. Costa Rica, where our largest growing operations are situated, provides habitat for over 4% of known species on Earth.
More than a quarter of our owned land — 9,500+ hectares — is designated as protected forests throughout our farms, which benefit biodiversity and the health of our soil and ecosystems. We don’t grow in these designated areas — we support and maintain native forests. Some of these areas are formally designated as wildlife refuges by the local government and others are segments of land within our farming areas called biological corridors, which allow species to move freely throughout our operations, reducing the risk of habitat fragmentation. We work to reforest along waterways in our farms in particular, as this allows for the protection of key ecosystem services and increases the environmental health of the greater watersheds where we operate.
These forests in and around our operations are vibrant and critical areas for wildlife habitat, water quality, buffering against runoff and soil erosion, and sequestering carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. We work to harness the innate ability of our forests to achieve carbon neutrality in three main ways: protecting forest ecosystems, reforesting new areas in our lands with native tree species, and involving and empowering our local communities through education and tree planting activities. By 2025, our goal is to conserve over 10,000 hectares of land for biodiversity and plant and donate 2.5 million trees in our operations and communities to enhance biodiversity and ecosystem health across our entire watersheds.
Since reforestation is most effective when the community is involved, we donate native trees to local institutions, ministries and landowners, and we work with each of our communities to plant more trees. Every year, we host tree-planting programs, during which we educate the community on the importance of our natural world, how to care for it, and work together to plant trees that are native to the region.
Actions in this pledge
Conserving trees and forest landscapes
- Permanent conservation
- Secure a forest through acquisition or legal agreement to avoid planned or unplanned deforestation or degradation, and/or ensure permanent conservation of land
- Conservation support activities
- Support the operating costs and activities of existing conservation areas, including advocacy for conservation policy
More than 9,500 hectares — more than a quarter of our owned land — is designated as protected forests throughout our farms, which benefit biodiversity and the health of our soil and ecosystems. Through this program, we plan to expand this area to over 10,000 hectares by 2025. We work to preserve forests and increase habitat connectivity in our operations. For wildlife to move freely beyond our conserved and reforested areas into multifunctional agricultural ecosystems, we maintain biological corridors along streams, rivers and creeks on our properties. These small tracts of forested land, allow species to move safely to neighboring natural areas beyond our farms. To extend the impact of our corridors, we are working with NGO partners, including the German Development Cooperation (GIZ), to help us with landscape-scale conservation.
With GIZ, in 2021, we launched a three-year multi-stakeholder program called “Resilient agricultural production through multi-stakeholder partnerships for sustainable landscapes.” This program aims to protect biodiversity and ecosystems within the value chains of conventional bananas and pineapples, using multi-stakeholder partnership with local organizations, government agencies, communities and others in order to achieve three key purposes:
1) Restoration of productive landscapes and economic development of communities;
2) Conservation of water resources in watersheds;
3) Education for sustainable development in communities near our operations.
As part of this initiative, we plan to actively engage external stakeholders in landscape-level conservation in Costa Rica and Guatemala, including owners of neighboring lands, other agricultural companies, water users, local community organizations and local inhabitants. We will establish participatory landscape management programs that enhance ecosystem services to benefit our local communities ensure the sustainability of critical water resources for our agricultural operations and enhance the resiliency of the local landscape to climate change.
- Land area
- 10,000 hectares
Restoring and growing trees and forest landscapes
- Re-establishment of forest through planting and/or deliberate seeding on land classified as forest, that has been degraded or where trees are unlikely to regenerate naturally
Our goal is to plant and donate 2.5 million trees by 2025 in Costa Rica, Guatemala, Panama, the Philippines and Kenya. Our teams monitor our tree planting activity and provide an annual reforestation summary. This program is already underway, with over 1 million trees planted by our teams and communities to date. Tree planting will occur both in our own operations, and in our communities. In our operations, we identify areas appropriate for reforestation on our properties, and we prioritize planting native species. This is important, as native tree species are adapted to the growing conditions and support biodiversity – many species depend on native trees for habitat and food sources. We are able to do this by collecting native seed in our protected areas, and then growing them in our nurseries.
Restoring & Growing
- 2.5 million trees
Enabling activities for trees and forest landscapes
- Nursery and seedling development
- Establish tree nurseries, including actions such as identification and collection of seeds and/or growing seedlings
- Sustainable forest management
- Activities that support the stewardship and use of forests (including by local communities and indigenous peoples), to maintain their biological diversity, productivity, and regeneration capacity, as well as their potential to fulfil relevant ecological economic and social functions
- Education and capacity building
- Forest / tree species conservation and restoration education programmes, targeted educational and behaviour change campaigns, training and capacity building, including promotion of local and traditional knowledge and practices
We work to expand our projects beyond our operations to our entire watersheds in order to drive real change at scale. Working at a watershed level presents unique challenges (not only technical but also social, educational, and political), so it is essential to work in partnership to keep the watersheds sustainable. Our mission is to ensure that our team and our communities have the tools to continue our conservation efforts beyond our farms and into our entire watersheds. In doing so, we will also support the economic recovery of local communities affected by the COVID-19 crisis through sustainable use of the natural ecosystem. We propagate enough seedlings in our nursery to donate native trees to local institutions, NGOs, ministries and owners interested in reforestation activities, to ensure our community has the ability to increase native forest cover. Every year, we also host tree-planting programs where we educate the community on the importance of our natural world, how to care for it and work together to plant trees that are native to the region.
We will also work directly with multi-stakeholder groups to identify productive opportunities to diversify income and employment for local people, such as through landscape restoration and biological connectivity. To ensure communities have the tools to continue our efforts beyond our farms and into our entire watersheds, and ensure the long-term success of the program, we will develop targeted education programs adapted for each region. This includes partnering with local NGOs and schools to develop a program for primary and secondary school children, engaging local entrepreneurs and our own employees.
Additionally, to share our best practices, we work with our peers to serve as a resource for other growers looking to get involved with biodiversity conservation on our farms. We provide guidance to enable our associated growers to produce top-quality product by using cutting-edge technology that is in harmony with nature. We also provide technical support to our associate growers in order to increase their capacity to obtain key certifications in sustainable production, including using good agricultural practices, preserving biodiversity, conserving natural resources, and supporting local communities. In addition, we are actively involved with industry associations in our operating regions to support the expansion of sustainable and ethical agricultural practices across our industry.
Our ecologically and socially responsible approach
Ecologically and socially responsible implementation is a key foundation of our pledged activities. With our key partner, GIZ, we are working towards landscape restoration and the rehabilitation of ecosystems while contributing to a green economic recovery for local communities socially and economically impacted by COVID-19. Further, we are working with our communities to strengthen values, attitude and behaviors for sustainable development to generate greater awareness for biodiversity conservation, ecosystem services, watershed protection, reforestation techniques and other key issues.
Additionally, in our operations, when we identify areas appropriate for reforestation on our properties, we take great care to consider the health and viability of the local habitat, and we prioritize planting native species. This is important, as native tree species are adapted to the growing conditions and support biodiversity – many species depend on native trees for habitat and food sources. We are able to do this by collecting native seed in our protected areas, and then growing them in our nurseries.
We are using protocols and standards to assess our implementation practices, including the Biodiversity Check Agrícola (BCA). The Global Nature Fund and Lake Constance Foundation and the Federal Association of Organic Viticulture ECOVIN e.V. developed the first biodiversity check for agricultural enterprises in 2012, which was implemented in four European countries. GIZ and the Sustainable Agricultural Network SAN have developed this check into the BCA. The BCA, created by GIZ, analyses the direct and indirect impacts of a farm on biodiversity and uncovers further connections. Additionally, the IUCN Global Standard for Nature-based solutions informs our actions. Our pineapple and banana operations in Costa Rica are further certified Sustainably Grown and Carbon Neutral by SCS Global Services and Global GAP compliant.
German Development Cooperation (GIZ)
We are working at locations across Costa Rica, Guatemala, Kenya, Panama, and Philippines.