Jeffrey Atkin says he can have his rain forest and harvest the lumber, too.
Mr. Atkin, president of Sustainable Forest Systems, Incline Village, Nev., is seeking to raise a total of $60 million - mainly from institutional investors - to buy and operate timberland in Paraguay's Yaguarete rain forest.
At its first closing late last year, SFS' Yaguarete Forests L.P. raised $5.5 million, with which it purchased about 40,000 acres. The firm expects a second closing in December. The minimum investment is $500,000.
By using well-proven sustainable forest management techniques, Mr. Atkin said, the firm hopes to reap sizable profits, while at the same time maintaining the health of the forest.
He explained that SFS' interest in the environment is good business because, unlike some lumber operations, the firm will buy the land from which it harvests the lumber.
"We're doing this simply because it makes a lot of sense not to destroy an asset that you own," Mr. Atkin said.
The firm's sensitivity to the environment, he said, has won the partnership interest from religious pension funds and other institutions interested in making socially responsible investments.
He added that the company is marketing mainly to institutions because the partnership's 20-year time horizon requires patient sources of capital.
Mr. Atkin said firm wants to raise about another $55 million, 70% of which will be used to purchase more land. The rest of the money will be used for infrastructure and working capital.
Of the $5.5 million raised so far, $5 million came from the pension fund of National Fuel Gas, Buffalo, N.Y. The rest came from an individual investor.