To answer this question, first let’s look on the definition of sustainability.
“The concept of sustainability is derived from the notion of sustainable development, which is a pattern of resource use that aims to meet human needs while preserving the environment, so that these needs can be met not only in present but also for future generations.” (Buchholtz, Carroll 2012)
Sustainability is about embracing environmental, economic and social criteria together, and not compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs.
Sustainability in agriculture describes farming systems that are “capable of maintaining their productivity and usefulness to society indefinitely. Such systems... must be resource-conserving, socially supportive, commercially competitive, and environmentally sound.” (John Ikerd, as quoted by Richard Duesterhaus in "Sustainability's Promise," Journal of Soil and Water Conservation (Jan.-Feb. 1990) 45(1): p.4. NAL Call # 56.8 J822)
Here is the way Farm Bill of 1990 defines sustainable agriculture. Under that law, “the term sustainable agriculture means an integrated system of plant and animal production practices having a site-specific application that will, over the long term:
- satisfy human food and fiber needs;
- enhance environmental quality and the natural resource base upon, which the agricultural economy depends;
- make the most efficient use of non-renewable resources and on-farm resources and integrate, where appropriate, natural biological cycles and controls;
- sustain the economic viability of farm operations;
- enhance the quality of life for farmers and society as a whole.”
Organic and sustainable production in Natural Habitats is the starting point of the business process. It is essential for us to develop constantly environmental and conservation practices.
We build sustainable business through: sustainable crop production, ecosystem management and protection, resource conservation and energy efficiency, integrated waste management, fair labor practices (ensuring at least minimum wage, pay taxes), community benefits (social projects), product quality and safety.
In order to enhance the quality of life for local communities, we allocate 1 % of our sales each year to social and environmental stewardship programs.
Also we are concerned about the CO2 footprint we leave. Organic farming plays a key role in soil carbon sequestration. Our operations return CO2 to the soil by using poly cropping with perennials crops, less use of fuels, and adding organic compost.
We plant only on already degraded land or grassland. We NEVER touch primary forest. Planting on degraded land or grassland allows converting more CO2 into oxygen than the degraded or grassland would.
Natural Habitats Group is currently involved in a large scale project to generate carbon credits. Due to the CO2 reduction initiatives and the conversion of organic waste into organic compost we are able to dramatically reduce our carbon footprint and the carbon footprint of others.
Of the land we acquire, 80% is used for organic production, 5% is used for infrastructure and rest 15% of the land is to create a bio-diverse environment with all kinds of flora and fauna, which makes palm trees more protected from any kind of diseases.
Rainwater is captured and used for irrigation and sanitary systems.
Use of fossil fuelled equipment is avoided as much as possible. Natural force, such as mules and oxen, is preferred and is capable of doing work even better than tractors.
At Natural Habitats, we are aware of the importance of the biodiversity and its conservation, for that reason we have acquired primary and secondary forestland for conservation and study purposes. Moreover, cooperating companies and smallholders have to sign an agreement explicitly stating they will preserve primary forest. There are no orangutans in Ecuador and Liberia, originally.
We are constantly working on the development of learning programs to promote the security of all threatened species in the surrounding areas; to do so we organize mingas (cleaning working days with communities) and teach the people how to correctly manage, dispose and recycle their garbage; this activity contributes not only to the environment but also to the people’s health and hygiene by reducing diseases and contamination.