The comments below are from three senior women in the WWF forest and paper programs:
• Keila Hand, Senior Program Officer, Paper and Packaging, WWF-US
• Linda Walker, Director, Global Forest & Trade Network - North America, WWF-US
• Emmanuelle Neyroumande, Pulp and Paper Global Manager, WWF-International
WHAT TYPE OF FOREST-RELATED WORK DOES WWF DO?
The demand for food, fuel and fiber is expected to skyrocket in the next few decades to meet the demands of a rapidly growing population. Many of these items will come from forests and forested lands, which is why wood removal is expected to triple by 2050.
WWF is addressing this challenge by working closely with companies and governments on issues such as forest management, forest products trade, wildlife habitat protection, and adapting to climate change and watershed. Our priority is forests that have the most biodiversity and are most threatened, such as forests in the Amazon, Congo Basin, Borneo, Sumatra and the Russian Far East. Our approach is raising awareness through collaboration and proposing pragmatic solutions that are based on science.
WHAT DO YOU, ULTIMATELY, WANT TO SEE HAPPEN?
We want to see:
• Companies, governments and communities doing more with less. Use less land, less water, less chemicals, and have less impact on biodiversity while simultaneously increasing wood yield. The result will be more well-managed, biodiversity rich commercial forests.
Well-managed plantations to be established on land that is underutilized, degraded or not productive, and natural or semi-natural forests to be managed responsibly:
• All production forests certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC). This is the best way to ensure that wood in the supply chain comes from responsibly managed forests and plantations and that manufacturers know where the wood is from and the environmental attributes of the wood.
All FSC wood converted in an energy- and resource-efficient manner to the final tissue or paper product. This requires:
• All paper is recovered and recycled.
• Less emissions and waste at paper mills.
DOES WWF FEEL LIKE IT IS MAKING PROGRESS?
Yes, as we see the number of companies committed to good wood and fiber sourcing increasing every day. However, this isn’t happening fast enough. The demand for forest products is rising faster than responsible wood and fiber supply is growing. To address this, we are working to increase the supply of responsibly-harvested and traded products to fulfill the needs of the growing population, while continuing to preserve ecosystem services offered by forests (e.g., wildlife habitat; clean air, water and soil; climate change stabilization, medicines and local livelihoods).
WHAT ROLE DO BUYERS PLAY?
Buyers play a very important role, given they are at the end of the supply chain. If they request credible information about the source of their wood and fiber, companies further back in the supply chain are under greater pressure to meet the requirements of responsible sourcing.
Some companies are very committed to protecting the environment, while others have a heavy footprint on the environment. Most companies, maybe 60%, are somewhere in between. If the retailers ask for certified products but the companies in the middle do not meet their demand, the companies in the middle create a road block. WWF sees a lot of potential to get this group more aware and more committed to protecting the environment, with the result being better management of our forests.
For those companies that are already fully committed and asking what more they can do, we advise them to educate their consumers. Educated consumers who know the story behind a certain label or certification are more likely to be committed to that company’s brand and appreciate the work the company does to help forests thrive.
IF COMPANIES WON’T ACT RESPONSIBLY, WHAT CAN YOU DO?
We had experience with this in 2012, when WWF-US launched a campaign to raise awareness that the APP Paseo brand being sold in US grocery stores was linked to deforestation practices in Indonesia. We sent letters to 20 top American grocery retailers carrying Paseo and explained the situation. Within several weeks, 17 of the 20 companies dropped the brand and many of them began selling FSC-certified paper. Also, many of them became more engaged in these questions than they had ever been. It was great to see that most of the companies responded to the campaign (and they did so quickly) and how much interest there was in doing the right thing.
We believe that our actions were instrumental in persuading APP to make its new, and encouraging, conservation policy announcement in February 2013, and more recently a new commitment to restore forests that they have cleared in the past. We are cautiously optimistic about these new commitments and will be keeping a close eye on performance. We are encouraging companies to do the same: wait and see before buying from APP until third party verification shows progress. We are also pushing APRIL to make similar commitments (See footnote 1).
IS FSC THE ONLY GAME IN TOWN?
WWF believes FSC is the certification system that best suits the world’s conservation needs. It protects biodiversity and ensures the future of forests globally. We support only FSC because it is the one certification scheme making a difference on the ground globally. This is not to say all of the other certification systems are bad. It is better to have some type of certification system rather than none at all. For recycled products we also recommend FSC labeled products, especially if the product contains some virgin pulp, but alternatively there are also other national labels that can give enough of a guarantee if you are buying 100% recycled.
WHAT DO YOU WANT THE TISSUE INDUSTRY TO DO?
We want the tissue makers to use mainly recovered fiber, perhaps 70 to 80%, which we know is technologically feasible. For some applications, such as medical or high-strength grades, virgin fiber is needed but otherwise recovered fiber is strongly preferred. The virgin fiber share should be FSC certified. We would also like to see a reduced manufacturing footprint in terms of water and carbon emissions. New technologies, such as Atmos and NTT, are being introduced to get higher performance with less resource inputs and we think that’s promising. So we want to encourage that. And everyone knows that using fewer resources means lower costs, so it’s good for the planet and the profits at the same time. *