Sponsored by RBC Wealth Management, the seminar, entitled ‘Can money grow on trees?’ was an opportunity for local Jersey companies to learn how ecosystem restoration can be incorporated into their business model and not just a form of charitable giving. This is the sixth year that Durrell and RBC Wealth Management have examined Corporate Social Responsibility issues through their annual event.

Addressing a packed audience of business leaders, this year’s key speaker Willem Ferwerda, Founder and CEO, Ecosystem Return Foundation, said: “My quest is to make global companies and investors realise how environmental sustainability impacts everyone, and why the business community should be driving the restoration of ecosystems. An investment in ‘natural capital’ is one that is so often sidelined in favour of shorter-term returns, although we have shown that restoring degraded lands can give a financial return. It is increasingly important to make the theory of conservation practical as we educate and inform the younger generations that will make up the future business community.”

Visiting the island from the Netherlands, Mr Ferwerda is Executive Fellow, Business & Ecosystems at the Rotterdam School of Management – Erasmus University, and focuses on putting ecosystem restoration on the agenda of business, investors and governments by developing restoration companies.

Addressing the issue of quantifying conservation success, Andrew Terry, Head of Field Programmes at Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust, added: “As a charity we have to demonstrate the impact that we have, which is effectively our return on investment.  We have developed a series of indices to illustrate, in an accessible way, how we use donations and grants to effect material change. This work is important in setting out the causal chain from funding to long-term impact, and showing that restoration does not happen overnight, or indeed during a three-year funding cycle, but over decades.”

Stuart Rutledge, CEO of RBC Wealth Management – British Isles and Caribbean, outlined RBC’s approach to sustainability: “We define sustainability as a long-term commitment to conducting ourselves with integrity. Our support for forums like this goes way beyond financial contributions or just having our name on the banners. Instead, it reflects our active belief in responsible citizenship and in the way our staff get involved in conservation and regeneration activities across the island.”

The presentations from the seminar can be viewed at www.durrell.org/business.