Sustainability and Responsible Investing

In addition to what it says about us, In Our Nature also says something about our surroundings. We are both in nature and a part of it. We depend on it and it depends on us. Of the many features of forests and farms that make them unique in the investment landscape, perhaps the most significant is that they are alive.

Brian Kernohan, Chief Sustainability Officer



Our Mission

Hancock Natural Resource Group (HNRG), a Manulife Investment Management Company, creates value through the sustainable management of natural resource investments. We manage our assets as good stewards of the land, the environment, and the community on behalf of our investors.

Our Approach

HNRG is a thematic investment manager, focusing on areas where social or environmental goals can offer commercial investment opportunities. We believe that good stewardship is good business, and that forest and farmland assets – when well-managed – directly contribute to global sustainability and responsible investment objectives.

Impact Investing Spectrum

Our Sustainability Platform

Through the five pillars of our Sustainability and Responsible Investing (SRI) platform (Ecosystem Resiliency, Watershed Protection, Climate Stability, People Empowerment, and Community Prosperity), HNRG integrates environmental, social, and governance (ESG) factors throughout all aspects of its investment decision-making and property management. Learn more about our platform below:

Planting Pollinator Habitats to Support Honeybee Health
Kiwi Recovery in New Zealand
Supporting Research on Wolves and Cougars
Supporting the Ecological Restoration of the Mary River Codfish
Sustainably Managing Pests on Macadamia Orchards with Biological Controls
Safeguarding the Brolga, a Vulnerable Australian Bird

1/6 Planting Pollinator Habitats to Support Honeybee Health

Over ninety U.S. crops are pollinated by honeybees every year, including almonds and cranberries. Although cranberry and almond blooms are very nutritious and attractive to bees, in order to pollinate, bees must go in search of pollen and nectar prior to and after the crop’s bloom. For this reason, and to aid in honeybee health, HNRG participated in a program called Seeds for Bees to provide supplemental forage for the hard-working pollinators on its almond properties in California. As a result of this collaboration, ten acres of clover, vetch, and mustard were planted on an almond and pistachio orchard in California to support these ecological workhorses. Three acres of perennial wildflowers were also planted on cranberry marshes in Wisconsin to provide nectar and pollen for bees year after year. Providing supplemental food for bees leads to more abundant native bee communities. The additional food supports more wildlife while creating a highly productive system that enhances local biodiversity.

2/6 Kiwi Recovery in New Zealand

HNRG’s operations in New Zealand (HFM NZ) collaborates closely with the Northland Kiwi Recovery Group to assist with recovery of the North Island Brown Kiwi. Kiwi are endangered primarily due to predators. Hancock Forest Management New Zealand leads six kiwi recovery projects focusing on year-round predator control. Recent kiwi monitoring indicates the population has increased by 50 percent due to increased chick survival. It is hoped that predator control and other measures will halt the decline of kiwi.

3/6 Supporting Research on Wolves and Cougars

HNRG is collaborating and supporting a study with the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife and Oregon State University, to better understand the interactions amongst cougars, wolves, and their prey. These wide-ranging species are monitored across ownerships, so access to private lands is critical. Understanding these interactions is important to maintaining a healthy, balanced ecosystem. Since 2013, researchers have collected data from radio collared animals to calculate predation rates (the amount and type of species predators select). Through participating in initiatives like this, HNRG improves its land management actions on behalf of wildlife and habitat, clients and stakeholders.

4/6 Supporting the Ecological Restoration of the Mary River Codfish

HQPlantations, an HNRG affiliated company, has a long association with The Mary River Catchment Coordinating Committee (MRCCC), a nonprofit organization in Australia that promotes sustainability and productive catchments. MRCCC coordinates the ongoing breeding/release of Mary River Codfish fingerlings. The Mary River Cod is an endangered species found only in the Mary River, which includes watercourses within the HQPlantations estate; it is also a sought-after species for recreational fishing. A key recovery action for the Cod is the production of fingerlings to increase populations and to supply fishing areas. Mary River Valley staff took the opportunity to release Mary River Cod fingerlings in streams within the HQPlantations estate in recognition of our support. The hatchery has released over 700,000 fingerlings to date; 200,000 for conservation purposes and the remainder for recreational fishing. As a result, populations have shown significant increases since the release program began, and ongoing monitoring will determine whether the Cod can be removed from the endangered list.

5/6 Sustainably Managing Pests on Macadamia Orchards with Biological Controls

Hancock Farm Company, (HFC), an HNRG affiliated company, implemented an Integrated Pest Management (IPM) program to use less chemicals in managing farm pests. The IPM program began with the release of MacTrix in 2008. MacTrix is a wasp that preys on the eggs of the Macadamia nutborer, an insect that causes significant damage to macadamia nut crops. Industry experts indicate that the nutborer is responsible for up to 5 percent crop loss on macadamia properties in Australia. Insect damage in 2016 was estimated to have cost the industry AUD3.75 million. As we strive to reduce our environmental footprint, we actively consider the contribution of biological controls to human health and environmental quality. Insects form the crucial backbone of control measures in our IPM program and will continue doing so. The future of biological controls ranks as one of the most effective control tactics in crop protection and will play a greater role in the future.

6/6 Safeguarding the Brolga, a Vulnerable Australian Bird

The Brolga is a very tall wetland bird at nearly six feet with a wingspan than can be over seven feet long. The Brolga is a species listed as “vulnerable” under the Victorian Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act. Hancock Victorian Plantations (HVP), an HNRG affiliated company, is the home of an adult Brolga pair which is nesting with one chick in the South West plantation. HVP is committed to protecting and enhancing the brolga’s habitat. While not migratory, the brolga has distinctly different requirements when flocking and nesting: deep permanent freshwater marshes for flocking and temporary shallow herb-dominated wetlands for nesting. HVP formalized the family’s existence by recording their nest location on HVP’s Geographic Information System. This protects the vulnerable bird by providing an alert for planning future plantation activities that might disrupt their habitat. The data will also be submitted to the DEPI Victorian Biodiversity Atlas which will contribute to the statewide tracking summary of the species.

Photo credit: Kim Wormald

Our Impact

HNRG’s impacts in 2020 include managing 100% of our eligible timberland investments to third-party sustainability standards, managing our entire U.S agriculture platform to the Leading Harvest Farmland Management Standard1, making our operations climate-positive, and adhering to a strict zero-deforestation policy. Over the past five years, our forests and farms have removed an average 3.0 million tons of CO2 annually, and since our founding in 1985 we have planted over 1.2 billion trees. For more information please see In Our Nature our 2020 Report on Sustainability and Responsible investing.

1. As of May 17, 2021. Includes both third-party leased and directly operated assets. HNRG is a founding member of Leading Harvest. In addition, Oliver Williams, Global Head of Agriculture, is current Chairperson of the Board of Directors for Leading Harvest.

Certifications and Memberships

HNRG is a Manulife Investment Management (“MIM”) company. MIM, the global asset management business of Manulife Financial Corporation, is a signatory to the UN PRI.

HNRG adheres to the International Finance Corporation’s Equator Principles in its acquisition processes.

HNRG is a member of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) and an active contributor to its Forest Solutions Group and work programs on Scaling Positive Agriculture and Nature Action.

HNRG is a member of the Global Impact Investing Network (GIIN) and an contributed to its 2019 Report: “Scaling Impact Investment in Forestry”

HNRG sponsors the Joint Program on the Science & Policy of Global Change at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). The Joint Program is a team of natural and social scientists studying interactions among human and Earth systems to provide a sound foundation of scientific knowledge.

100% of HNRG-managed forests are third-party certified sustainable. We manage over 3.4 million acres of forests in the United States and Canada that are certified under the Sustainable Forestry Initiative® (SFI).

100% of HNRG-managed forests are third-party certified sustainable. We manage nearly 2.1 million acres of forests in Australia, New Zealand, and Chile that are certified under the Forest Stewardship Council® (FSC).

100% of HNRG-managed forests are third-party certified sustainable. We manage nearly 1.9 million acres of forests in Australia and New Zealand that are certified under the Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC).

HNRG currently manages over 300,000 acres of third-party certified sustainable farmland. Certifications include Global GAP (Apples), USDA GAP (Almonds, Pistachios), SAI-FSA (Cranberries), Lodi Rules (Wine grapes), and the Leading Harvest Farmland Management Standard (almonds, pistachios, apples, and cranberries, walnuts, grapes, corn, soybeans, cotton, potatoes, peanuts, and others). HNRG has partnered with our colleagues throughout the agricultural investment sector to establish Leading Harvest, a non-profit that will own and manage a third-party, performance-based, industry-wide sustainability standard for agriculture.

The logos above are registered trademarks of the respective organizations represented.
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