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World Wildlife Fund On Balance

filtered by category: Forests

  • Date: 14 October 2015
  • Author: Linda Walker

The first time I saw tiger tracks in the snow was during the winter of 2009. I was in a Russian Far East forest with my WWF-Russia colleagues.

It was so exhilarating, especially given that we knew that the tracks were from an Amur tiger – a regal-looking endangered species that only is found in the Russian Far East. Fewer than 550 such tigers exist.

Given how close I felt to a tiger that day, my heart sank when, later that afternoon, we witnessed a brigade of illegal loggers steal timber from the Tayozhny Wildlife Refuge. The refuge is one of the last habitats for the Amur tiger. It is part of a forest that looks amazingly similar to an Appalachian forest – with oak, ash and pine-covered hillsides, as well as mist-laden valleys. But the Russian forest is on the brink of destruction. And pervasive illegal logging is the main culprit. Much of this timber from the forest flows into China and is made into flooring, furniture and other products that find their way to unsuspecting consumers in the United States, Europe and Japan.

A recent settlement brings us one step closer to stopping illegal logging in the Russian Far East and, hopefully, other important forests.

On October 7, Lumber Liquidators, North America’s largest specialty retailer of hardwood flooring, announced that it would plead guilty to violations of the Lacey Act. This US law, which originally was passed to prohibit illegal wildlife trade, was amended in 2008 to also prohibit illegal timber and timber products, among other products, from entering the US market and being traded in the US.

The news is a major coup for conservation, as illegal and unsustainable logging is responsible for most of the degradation of the world’s forests.

“Given how close I felt to a tiger that day, my heart sank when, later that afternoon, we witnessed a brigade of illegal loggers steal timber from the Tayozhny Wildlife Refuge. ”

Linda Walker
Director, Global Forest & Trade Network-North America

According to Lumber Liquidator’s SEC filings, the settlement between Lumber Liquidators and the US Department of Justice relates primarily to the company’s import of flooring from China. Some of this flooring was made with timber that was overharvested beyond permitted amounts from the Russian Far East. Some shipments from China also contained false declarations regarding the species and/or the country of harvest. The case also involved timber from Myanmar that was manufactured in China and misdeclared as a different species from Indonesia. The company also agreed to make a total of $13.2 million in payments as part of the settlement.

This case, the facts of which were also the subject of an investigative report in 2013 by the non-profit Environmental Investigation Agency, illustrates the critical role of the Lacey Act. WWF is working to ensure the implementation of amendments to the legislation that were made in 2008 to include timber products. Implementation requires funding. WWF and nearly 500,000 of our supporters have called on Congress to provide US government agencies with the funding they need to implement the Lacey Act.

The case also demonstrates the important role of companies and consumers in stopping illegal logging. Many organizations, including WWF, offer tools and resources to help companies practice due care for legal and responsible sourcing that can help forests, wildlife and communities thrive. And consumers, when shopping for flooring, paper, or any forest product, to look for the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) label, knowing it’s the best sign available of legal and responsible sourcing.

As Director of WWF's Global Forest & Trade Network-North America program, Linda promotes responsible forest management and trade in WWF priority places by engaging with North American companies committed to sourcing wood and paper products from well-managed and credibly-certified forests.

  • Date: 05 August 2015

The green Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) logo on a product means the most responsible forest management practices were used to make the product. Smaller trees were not harmed when harvesting larger trees, the rights of people living in or near the forest were respected, wildlife habitat was not degraded, and more.

Many forest operators know this or are learning about it. That’s huge progress. But taking action to get the FSC certification is another story. Often, they think the cost of FSC will have a negative impact on their bottom line.

A WWF study published today dispels this belief.

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  • Date: 24 October 2014
  • Author: Linda Walker, Director, Global Forest & Trade Network-North America

I was optimistic—but cautiously so—when we launched our Global Forest & Trade Network (GFTN) North America program in 2006. Would companies be interested in technical assistance from World Wildlife Fund to assess where there might be risks in their wood and paper supply chains that relate to social and environmental impacts? Could we work together to create robust sourcing policies to mitigate those risks and transparently show their stakeholders the progress being made? Could we collaborate on ways to help the companies increase their sourcing of forest products that are certified to the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) standard, which we believe includes the most rigorous requirements for ensuring environmental and social responsibility?

What I have learned is that, for some very influential US companies, the answer is a resounding yes. The stepwise approach to responsible sourcing can benefit forests and companies alike.

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  • Date: 16 October 2014
  • Author: Amy Smith

Domtar Corporation recently reached a major milestone: selling its five millionth ton of Forest Stewardship Council® (FSC®) certified uncoated fine paper. This is a first for the North American market and marks an important step in Domtar’s larger goal of 100 percent FSC certified sourcing.

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  • Date: 21 March 2014
  • Author: Linda Walker, WWF

Talking with companies after my panel discussion at the Tissue World Americas conference, it’s clear that many buyers of tissue and paper products have questions about whether they should reward Asia Pulp and Paper’s (APP) forest pledge with purchasing contracts.

I’ll reiterate here the advice I gave to these individuals and to any company committed to responsible sourcing: Don’t. It’s too soon.

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  • Date: 23 December 2013
  • Author: Paige Goff, Domtar

This time of year provides clarity to what is important in life. I have a four year old son (four and half…he would insist). Seeing his excitement over the presents under the tree, visiting Santa, enjoying all the decorations and the delicious sweets, hearing the seasonal sounds, and sensing the magical charm during this time of year definitely makes me remember the simple joys in life. At four (and a half), my son is watching us closely, clearly starting to formulate ideas on how holidays—and life—should be run in our household. We have a pull-out trashcan with dividers (regular trash and recyclables), which he is always opening the trash to make sure mommy and daddy placed the right items in the correct trashcan. He loves to let us know when we’ve made a mistake. We call him the recycling patrol! And with all the holiday card envelopes and mailing boxes we’re receiving right now, he’s on extra high alert.

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  • Date: 09 May 2013
  • Author: Nick Conger

We’ve all heard stories about the foolish rich guy who blew his fortune on outlandish cars, homes and yachts. They usually follow a predictable path: He experiences a windfall of cash, spends beyond his means and inevitably plummets into bankruptcy.

This story is being played out on the biggest stage of all: Planet Earth. On the whole, humanity is currently on a natural resource spending binge. At the same time, more than a billion people go to bed hungry every night. Until we balance these inequities, we’ll all suffer the consequences – from the price we pay for food to access to clean water.

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  • Date: 24 April 2013
  • Author: Nick Conger

Being green in our material world can be exhasuting. Our global economic engine runs on consumer spending. But the more we spend, the more we consume, the more our planet struggles to sustain itself. If we continue gobbling up resources at the current rate, by 2030 we will need the equivalent of two planets to maintain life as we know it.

Reconciling this conundrum may seem impossible. But fear not my material friends, balance can be achieved.

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  • Date: 18 April 2013
  • Author: Nick Conger

There’s a good chance that you’ve bought into a black market of illegal products. But this is not a blogpost about a massive, global conspiracy by corporations to defraud consumers. It’s about our collective obliviousness to the growing prevalence of illegal products in our lives, and the consequences of the status quo.

Ostensibly a product that was harvested or traded illegally looks and functions the same as a legal one. But a deeper look reveals the hidden costs of illegal products. There are economic and national security implications. Local communities and endangered species are robbed of their homes. Companies and their customers are complicit in breaking the law.

We can no longer claim ignorance and look the other way. Modern information technology equips us with tools to solve the problem.

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  • Date: 11 April 2013
  • Author: Nick Conger

Oxford, England, the historical town along the River Thames is currently teeming with really smart ideas. Nearly 1,000 “social entrepreneurs” gather each year for the Skoll World Forum, to challenge the status quo and collaborate on solutions to world’s pressing challenges.

Among this intelligentsia is my colleague Jason Clay who’s participating on the Sustainable Sourcing: The Business Imperative panel session on Friday. The panelists will tackle, among other topics, “the role certification can play in creating value for all players in the supply chain.”

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