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:

Restoring the Forest Buffer on the Cahaba River
Capturing Flood Flows to Replenish Aquifers
Increasing Farms’ Productivity through Water Resource Management

1/3 Restoring the Forest Buffer on the Cahaba River

HNRG and the Cahaba River Society, a local advocacy group, collaborated to implement a streamside forest restoration project on the Cahaba River near Birmingham, Alabama. The streamside areas were located behind a local middle school and had been cleared of trees several years earlier to facilitate a county sewer line construction project. The Cahaba River was suffering from erosion of its banks as well as lack of filtration from rainfall run off. The lack of trees contributed to elevated water temperatures which can be detrimental to aquatic ecosystems in the stream. Forty-six volunteers from HNRG and The Cahaba River Society assisted with the restoration project which involved planting native tree species such as American sycamore, black willow, green ash, red and white oaks and loblolly pine. In total, 150 trees were planted along the river to restore the forest buffer.

2/3 Capturing Flood Flows to Replenish Aquifers

A 350 acre (141 hectare) section of Madera Triangle T, a permanent nut property in California, has been dry farmed (not irrigated) in row crops so that flood flows can be spread on the land during wet years. Flood waters that would otherwise cause damage to the trees are now being used to replenish aquifers. The water recharge fields are utilized because there is not enough storage capacity throughout the state to hold excess water for use in years when a drought occurs. The ground serves as a free storage facility, which helps offset subsidence –the gradual caving in or sinking of an area of land due to lack of water. Battling subsidence is important to the long-term viability of agriculture in this region. The recharge activity increases groundwater quality, creates habitat for waterfowl such as the American White Pelican and Great Blue Heron, and raises the groundwater level which lowers pumping costs.

3/3 Increasing Farms’ Productivity through Water Resource Management

System Pattern Tile was installed on 625 acres (253 hectares) along the Mason County river levee to better manage water resources during the growing season. The tile system was planted to serve two primary purposes: 1) the installation increases drainage, which in turn increases productivity by moving the planting season forward, and 2) the tiles improve soil moisture uniformity, which benefits plant roots, and thus plant health and growth. More productive ground is not only better for the harvest, but it also makes the land more valuable for future use.

Photo credit: Clark Farm Drainage, Inc.

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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