You’ve likely seen the Internet memes “What My Friends Think I Do vs What I Actually Do.” They depict what different people think a person does and end with a punch line about what they really do, which is usually much less exciting but much closer to the truth. The “what they think I do” parts of the environmentalist’s meme are the perceptions I try to dispel every day as a senior forest campaigner working with Greenpeace for ten years.
Sure I’ve blocked shipments of wood from the ports of one of the world’s largest forest destroyers. But that is a very, very tiny part of my work, most of which takes place talking to logging companies and their customers to find a solution with them that protects the forest and builds a sustainable economy. From collaborating with First Nations to negotiating the Great Bear Rainforest Agreements to undertaking conservation planning in Ontario’s Boreal Forest with forest companies, it’s the less glamourous work of figuring out how and where forest conservation happens so that it meets the interests of everyone. It’s the largely silent work between our big flashy campaigns to get companies’ and governments’ attention and the announcements of large-scale protection that we call victories.
Yet some want you to believe that solutions aren’t possible. Last month, logging giant Resolute Forest Products said that they could no longer see a win-win conclusion by working with Greenpeace. For several years we tried to work constructively with Resolute to increase protection of the forests in which they operate and purchase timber – forests like the Montagnes Blanches Endangered Forest in Quebec. We, and most other environmental groups, have so far been unsuccessful. Instead of collaborating, Resolute filed a $7,000,000 lawsuit against Greenpeace and two of my colleagues. Fortunately, we aren’t alone. More than 50,000 people are standing with us for the forest and against being silenced by lawsuits. Join us!
And, despite the lawsuit, we haven’t given up on collaborating with others to protect forests around the world. In fact, our Forest Solutions report tells these stories and hopefully gives you a better sense of what Greenpeace’s forest campaigners do every day.
My hope is to turn the image of ‘what I actually do’ from sitting at a desk and into a picture of me in an old-growth stand of rainforest. Until then, I will keep up the good work that keeps trees standing.
Stephanie Goodwin is a Senior Forest Campaigner for Greenpeace. She lives and works in Vancouver with the occasional ‘inspiration vacation’ into the forest.