The BaumInvest Blog

Interview with Martin Homola – Part 2

Supervisory Board member and forestry expert Martin Homola traveled to Costa Rica for a week, with CEO Antje Virkus by his side. He described his impressions of the reforestations, new structures, and the helpfulness of the local people in a thorough interview. Here is the second of two parts of the interview: about the business fields of the future, natural forests, and climate change.

BaumInvest: In the second part of the interview, we want to look into the future with you.

Martin Homola: That sounds nice; and I already saw the future during my last trip to Costa Rica: a very important and emerging business field that BaumInvest is currently tackling with a lot of verve.

BaumInvest: Would you share your view into the crystal ball?

Homola: The business field I’m referring to is compensation forests, also known as carbon forests.

BaumInvest: To fill in the blanks: With BaumInvest, companies can have their own Carbon Corporate Forests planted and thereby compensate for all their operational carbon emissions.

Homola: This is such a great thing; on the one hand, investors and companies can use this concept to lead their products and companies into “climate neutrality”. On the other hand, it gives BaumInvest more opportunities to acquire land and reforest near-natural forests. Absolutely a win-win situation. The signs are good that this will become a very important business field in the near future – it’s not only economically interesting, but also ecological and sustainable. From my point of view, an investment that’s definitely worthwhile.

BaumInvest: Another quite new way of getting involved with BaumInvest is the Natural Forest Conservation Program – in other words, a tree sponsorship in a natural forest with the addition of having ten more tropical trees planted.

Homola: On our most recent trip, Antje Virkus and I visited the areas in La Virgen where the trees of the tree sponsors are located. You silently walk through that forest on a thin layer of humus, it is dark because it’s so densely overgrown, and you can hear howler monkeys – that ‘s a very special experience in such a natural forest. And it makes you realize once again how important it is to preserve the natural forests of this earth.

BaumInvest: Which brings us to the topic of climate change, which is increasingly causing problems for forests in general and natural forests in particular: through drought, fire, and the increasing number of extreme weather events such as hurricanes. Which brings us to the question we are often asked by interested investors: How can we ensure that the forests of BaumInvest will survive in the long term – keyword risk management.

Homola: First of all, there is always a certain risk involved in reforestation projects. After all, we are working with forests, with nature, which we cannot control completely – fortunately. In Germany, we have seen how entire needleleaf forests under drought stress were attacked by bark beetles. You always have to take potential failings into account. In my opinion, however, the risk for Costa Rica is relatively low. On the one hand because of the stable political conditions, on the other hand because of the natural conditions. Especially in the Zona Norte, where BaumInvest’s plantations are located, hurricanes or similar damaging events are not to be expected.

BaumInvest: In Costa Rica, BaumInvest has not only firmly rooted many trees in the past 14 years, but also itself as a company: with numerous cooperations. Is there potential for more?

Homola: A short anecdote: Antje Virkus and I were sitting at the breakfast table in the hotel one morning when a man came up to us. He told us he had a pallet company and was looking for a timber supplier; he had heard about BaumInvest and wanted to visit the office in Ciudad Quesada. Since he had seen the BaumInvest logo on Antje’s shirt, he had approached us. Of course, we could help him straight away. This and other examples show: We are known in Costa Rica, we are a sought-after partner, and local wood processors are also interested in us.

BaumInvest: Finally: After your insight into the BaumInvest forests, what would you tell interested shareholders?

Homola: I will increase my current share package at the next opportunity. I would not do that if I were not convinced of BaumInvest and its vision. BaumInvest is on the right track from an ecological, social, and economic point of view – and I want to accompany it. The great thing is that the work here is totally transparent. You can talk quite openly with the board of management and every single employee, and even mistakes or omissions in forestry work are now clearly communicated and named – and then directly addressed. It is important that we continue to develop positive ways to communicate amongst ourselves, but also in technical terms. We need to improve the selection of seed and soil analysis in newly acquired reforestation areas, for example – and invest in training. So many exciting areas in which I, as a member of the Supervisory Board, am happy to play an advisory role.

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