For wildlife on land there is no more valuable place than the forest. Branches and broad leaves of oak trees provide animals with shelter. Nuts from walnut trees and water from forest streams nourish them. And different shades of bark camouflage wildlife from predators.
Wildlife as large as elephants and small as ants depend on the soil, trees, water and air of the forests. No wonder 80 percent of the world’s known terrestrial species live in forests.
Most of these animals and plants are found in the lush tropical rain forests of places like the Amazon and Indonesia. These forests are also a prime target for companies that use trees to create everyday products—things like toilet paper, napkins, brooms and bed frames.
And the same forests are threatened by companies that cut down trees to make way for growing palm oil and soy. The same palm oil and soy found in goods we use daily—from shampoo to salad dressing to the food consumed by the livestock we eat.
Trees are being cut down at a rapid rate—the equivalent of 48 football fields per minute—to meet the demand for such products.
So how can we turn this situation around?
Forests for people and wildlife
For American consumers, the answer is simple: Buy products that have the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) label. The label means the product was created with material from a responsibly-managed forest. The FSC—which WWF helped create nearly 20 years ago—has the best standards for assessing which forests are properly managed.
FSC standards address multiple environmental issues by, for example, limiting clear cuts, restricting the use of some of the most hazardous chemicals, and protecting rivers from erosion. They also address social issues, such as protecting the rights and resources of the 300 million people that live in forests and rely on this landscape for their livelihoods.
We also know that FSC-certified forests provide better working and living conditions, as well as opportunities for people to engage with companies on issues related to the forest. This finding comes from a new Africa-specific study about the social impacts of forest certification, commissioned by WWF.
Look for the label
Nearly 13 percent of the world’s production forests (almost 160 million acres) are FSC certified. Two things make these forests relatively easy to spot—a large quantity of trees and high quality forest ecosystems.
Quality and quantity are the direct result of FSC standards that help stop illegal logging, prevent the conversion of forest land, and limit soil erosion that occurs when too many trees are removed from the forest. The more soil erosion, the more water pollution, landslides, avalanches and flooding occurs.
The FSC label ensures that the products you buy are from forests managed responsibly. And it means a future for both wildlife and people.