Cut and Run: Kimberly-Clark's legacy of environmental devastation and social conflict in the Kenogami Forest

Publication - April 16, 2008
Kimberly-Clark holds itself up as an exemplary corporate citizen, a company doing its utmost toprotect the environment and benefit communities. But Cut and Run reveals that the company’spolicies and practices have caused severe environmental damage and social conflict in Canada’sBoreal Forest.

Cut and Run: Kimberly-Clark's legacy of environmental devastation and social conflict in the Kenogami Forest

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Americans arrested protesting destructive logging in Ontario's Boreal Forest Barricade in place at Kleenex manufacturer's office in Tennessee

Greenpeace activists are now barricading themselves to the entrance of Kimberly-Clark's office in Knoxville, Tennessee to protest the company's destruction of Ontario's Boreal Forest.

Executive summary:

Based on government documents, independent audits, satellite mapping, and public records, thiscase study looks at the past, present, and future of the Kenogami Forest, a 2,000,000 hectare(4,940,000 acre) expanse in northern Ontario. Kenogami is a forest that Kimberly-Clark directlymanaged for decades, and a forest that remains one of its primary sources of tree pulp today.

Years of excessive clearcut logging, bad planning, failed regeneration, weak compliance withregulations, and lack of meaningful consultation with First Nations and workers have taken a serioustoll on the Kenogami Forest. Since Kimberly-Clark started logging there in 1937, intact and oldgrowthforests have been lost, threatened species have disappeared, and local communities havebecome embroiled in conflict with industry, frustrated after years of being shut out of the planning,management, and economic benefits of the logging happening on their land.

If current plans are followed through, this situation will only get worse: clearcuts will degrade whatremains of the forest’s intact areas, logging will target what remains of its old-growth, and thethreatened woodland caribou will die-off in the area, unable to survive in Kenogami’s fragmentedlandscape.

The case of the Kenogami Forest sheds light on the stark contrast between Kimberly-Clark’s claimsto sustainability and the reality of its operations on the ground. It shows that Kimberly-Clark hasviolated its long-held policy commitment not to use “environmentally significant” old-growth fibrein any of its consumer products. It shows that the company’s executives have made repeated,misleading statements by claiming, for example, that the Boreal Forest fibre used in Kimberly-Clark’sproducts comes primarily from “waste.” And it shows that the company’s current fibre procurementpolicy permits the purchase of fibre from intact and old-growth forests, including threatened specieshabitat and areas logged without the prior and informed consent of the Aboriginal communitieswhose territories are affected.

Because Kimberly-Clark continues to purchase the majority of the pulp produced at the TerraceBay pulp mill—the mill that acts as the primary driver of logging in the Kenogami Forest—thecompany retains significant influence over the forest’s management. By increasing the amount ofrecycled content across its full line of products, the company could reduce the pressure on forestslike Kenogami. And by adopting a policy that prohibits the use of fibre from endangered forests;that makes meaningful commitments to fibre certified by the Forest Stewardship Council; and thatprohibits the use of fibre from areas logged without the prior and informed consent of local FirstNations, it could ensure that the forestry operations it sourced from were truly sustainable ones.

Num. pages: 32