Ten companies can help save the world's forests

Posted: 24 April 2001

If managed correctly, one-fifth of the world's forests could provide the industrial wood and wood fibre necessary to meet future needs, and just 10 companies can help make it happen, says a report by WWF, the conservation organisation.

According to WWF's report The Forest Industry in the 21st Century, if the ten global companies that dominate the industry were to adopt the management principles of the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), the growing demand for wood products could be met by as little as 600 million hectares of forest - about twice the size of India, or a fifth of the world's forests. The companies' support of FSC would provide the critical mass necessary to change forestry practices worldwide, and halt the destruction of old growth forests or fragile ecosystems.

The report identifies close to 100 leading companies who operate at a considerable scale, comparable with many countries.

Among the top 10 companies listed by WWF, the five largest wood processing ones are International Paper, Georgia Pacific, Weyerhaeuser, Stora-Enso and Smurfit Stone Container. Between them, these five companies process around 20 per cent of the world's industrial wood.

The five largest wood buyers are Home Depot, Lowes, IKEA, Kimberly-Clark and Proctor & Gamble. Home Depot, Lowes and IKEA already actively support FSC and Stora-Enso has FSC certification for its forests in Sweden.

WWF is calling upon the remaining processors and buyers to seek full FSC certification and to take the lead in saving the world's forests. The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) was established in 1993 by WWF and other organisations to certify forests and forest products as responsibly managed. Almost 700 companies that produce and use wood have now joined the Global Forest and Trade Network of FSC supporters, co-ordinated by WWF. Over 20 million hectares of forest in 35 countries have been certified.

"But this progress only represents three per cent of the world's timber producing forests," adds Dr Elliott. "WWF believes that the commitment of all of the top ten companies would provide the incentive and the pressure to make the industry change."


WWF's report, The Forest Industry in the 21st Century