Hennessy’s world-renowned cognac wouldn’t exist without forests. Now, the company is helping reforestation projects across the globe.
For more than 250 years, French cognac brand Hennessy has been connected to forests. Its oak casks play a vital role in its cognac maturation stage. Without healthy forests, there is no Hennessy.
It’s the impetus behind the brand’s new Forest Destination regeneration program. Announced last week on the UN’s International Day of Forests, it’s aimed at boosting awareness about the important roles forests and trees play in the health of our planet.
The campaign is buoyed by Hennessy’s commitment to regenerate 50,000 hectares of forest by 2030. Last year, the company helped to plant more than 2.2 million trees around the world.
“Hennessy has always maintained a long-term vision, seeing far into space and time,” Laurent Boillot, President of Hennessy, said in a statement.
“Today, the future of humankind depends on our ability to take up the daunting challenge of preserving and regenerating forest ecosystems. This task goes far beyond individual interests. With ‘Forest Destination’, we want to act, participate in a collective movement, and contribute concretely to the common good.”
The French label, part of the LVMH group, is focused on sustainability across its value chain. Last year, it announced the construction of a €20 million research center focused on greening its manufacturing and product development.
The world’s largest luxury wines and spirits company is also embracing sustainable viticulture through its Living Soils program launched in 2020. Initiatives include addressing climate change, sustainability in supply chains, and the preservation of water and energy.
“Through Living Soils, Moët Hennessy aims to unite its communities across the world and develop a global social responsibility program,” says the company’s CEO, Philippe Schaus.
Home to 80 percent of the planet’s biodiversity, forests play a vital role in preserving life on earth, supplying 75 percent of freshwater, supporting essential ecosystems, and fighting climate change. The world’s forests sequester about 2 billion tons of CO2 annually. The company says in France, 25 percent of emissions are absorbed by the country’s forests.
But forests are in jeopardy. Most notably, the Amazon, the world’s largest and most vital tropical rainforest, has been battling destruction at the hands of agriculture, logging, and mining. The forest loss has been so significant in recent years that experts warn the Amazon is close to a “tipping point,” becoming a savannah and losing much of its carbon sequestration abilities.
Hennessy says it’s working in France with the Office National des Forêts (ONF) on regenerating the Braconne Forest located in western France. There, it’s replanting more than 27,000 oak saplings as part of restoration efforts for the region impacted by Storm Martin in 1999.
It is also working with Reforest’Action. As part of a ten-year partnership launched in 2020, Hennessy is helping to support ecosystem regeneration across Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa, China, and the U.S.
Also in Kenya, Hennessy works with Trees for Kenya, a reforestation project for the protected forest area of Mount Kenya. The group is planting 250,000 trees from 30 different species across 400 hectares. That program will restore the Mount Kenya National Park which plays a vital role in crop diversity for local populations, the group says.
Hennessy is also bringing trees to Madagascar. The country is particularly vulnerable to climate change, and deforestation for firewood has exacerbated the issues. There, Hennessy is planting 60,000 saplings across 40 hectares. It’s also behind the construction of the “School of the Forest” which will support 500 children and young farmers.
Tech giant Samsung recently announced its plans to plant more than 2 million mangroves across Madagascar before Earth Day. Mangroves play critical roles in mitigating the risks of flooding. The island nation is particularly vulnerable to flooding as sea levels rise amid climate change. Mangroves are also more effective at sequestering carbon than dry forests.
In the U.S., Hennessy has helped to reforest Oregon, hit by the increasing number of forest fires in recent years. It replanted 100,000 trees in a 93-hectare area of Oregon between 2020 and 2021.
Social justice at Hennessy
Last year, Hennessy launched the Never Stop Never Settle Society aimed at celebrating Black entrepreneurs—a commitment built into the brand since the 1800s.
Co-created alongside the nonprofit Marcus Graham Project, Hennessy provides funding and resources to Black individuals working to reshape the world through social impact, increasing representation in otherwise white spaces for Black-owned businesses, and job creation within their communities.
“Hennessy recognizes the tenacity and resilience each selected member embodies as they push the limits of potential to carve their path, address social and economic challenges and make a lasting impact on their community,” Jasmin Allen, Senior Vice President, Hennessy US, said in a statement.
“Hennessy has always supported the Black community. We are honored to continue this legacy through the “Never Stop Never Settle Society” by celebrating extraordinary individuals and championing the vision of their businesses.”
The program provided 20 members with $50,000 as well as professional development sessions with Moët Hennessy executives in its New York headquarters, a membership to Black-owned The Gathering Spot Connect, a digital community offering culturally relevant content, networking, and business development resources.