Observatory of Green Businesses

Waldmenschen eG

Together in a cooperative, we plant citizens permanent forests in Panama. The aim of our environmental movement is to maintain large areas in the tropics for centuries. We want to reduce the effects of climate change. Later our children and grandchildren will benefit from the income of wood sales.

What we do:
We secure the home of millions of people by planting tropical forests.
Why do we do this?
In 1970 there were still 17 million km² of rainforest. Today, not 50 years later, only 7 million km². The trend will be further decrease. If we will destroy the green lung of our world, people in Brazil, Latin America, Central America, Africa and Indonesia will no longer be able to live in their countries. The war against our future have to come to an end. And at the same time, we have to reforest the deforested areas. This is the aim of Waldmenschen eG.
How do we do this?
An initiative of citizens and companies does not want to wait. Now the initiative takes the first step. Together with our experienced forest partner from Panama, we are able to plant permanent mixed forests in the tropics for the first time. These forests produce tropical timber in a cycle of taking and replanting. Because of this reason they are more worth than plantations and pastures - for the local people as well as the members of the cooperative. If the forests make a profit, the forest people will be involved and can decide year by year whether they need the money or if they plant new, self-expanding forest areas.
Why should you join?
Quite simply: Without you it does not work. Never again you will say: We could...! We should...! NO. From today you have to do something. You have to plant 500 m2 of tropical forests. Together with us. And so we can change the world. The battle in regard of the world climate has begun. But we will win it. So: take the first step to waldmenschen.de.

Size of business

  • 15 employees (incl. founders, board of directors)


  • Support of large companies like SAP, ZDK …

Opportunities and plans for the future

In 5 years, we have planted 1000 hectares of these forests and we have given our children a livable world.
In 10 years, there are imitators who will implement the principle in every tropical country.
In 50 years, 75% of former rain forest areas will be reforested.
In 100 years, we will live in harmony with the environment and Stephen Hawkins has not been right.


Pitfalls and challenges

1. How did the project come to life?
The idea of the cooperative was born in Panama. There employees of a forestry company Futuro Forestal, Andreas Eke and Arne Knöchel considered how we can stop the problem of tropical deforestation. The forestry company has developed the tool with which we can create that. But there was no access for the broad masses. We can only solve this global challenge together. Back in Germany Arne won the Social Impact Fellowship with the idea of ​​a cooperative as a safe shelter from which citizens and businesses change the world.
2. If you found the company again, what would you do exactly and what would you do differently?
Every foundation is different and dependent on the time in which we live. Our biggest challenge is called the "Kleinanlegerschutzgesetz". It exists only for few years. But I recommend staying persistent and to be right after all.
3. Are there any difficulties regarding the foundation?
The greatest difficulty is that the green sector is not green. The reason is that nature has been adapted to short-term profit-making. We reversed it and developed a company which meets the requirements of permanent forests. In our business planning we consider the period the next one hundred years. And that is why we often stay in front of walls of the contemporary reality of the economy and the monetary policy. However, I am confident that we can break the walls. So my appeal to all people: start to found a company. Then the way to social-fair and green economies will be free.
4. Did you have positive or negative incidences which motivated you?
Every time when one person wants to be part of us or think about our initiative I am very happy. That counts for me more than anything else.


Pictures by courtesy of waldmenschen eG.

Contact information

Waldmenschen eG c/o, Social Impact Lab
Pastorenstraße 16-18
20459 Hamburg, Germany