How to Save Our Forests

Standard Page - 2011-06-21
Protecting forests will not only preserve biodiversity and defend the rights of forest communities, but it’s also one of the quickest and cost effective ways of halting climate change. To effectively defend these precious ecosystems, the international community, corporations, indigenous communities and individuals will need to work together in an unprecedented, concerted effort.

Protecting forests will not only preserve biodiversity and defend the rights of forest communities, but it’s also one of the quickest and cost effective ways of halting climate change. To effectively defend these precious ecosystems, the international community, corporations, indigenous communities and individuals will need to work together in an unprecedented, concerted effort.

Ending Deforestation

Greenpeace is working for the long-term, effective protection of ancient forests such as the Paradise Forests in Southeast Asia and the Congo rainforests in Africa. We are working to exclude these forests from logging and plantation conversion, so that we don’t ever have to worry about our pack of tissues destroying an orangutan’s home again.

This means that Sinar Mas and other companies must stop their destructive practices in logging these precious forests to make paper, palm oil and other products. Industry must implement sustainable harvesting policies to ensure that their products do not come at the cost of the environment.

We are working to achieve this through corporate action, consumer power, local communities and more.

Political Solutions: REDD

Greenpeace is lobbying for an international framework to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from deforestation in developing countries – where most of the world’s remaining ancient forests are found. This mechanism or program is known as ‘reduced emissions from degradation and deforestation’ (REDD). Read more here.

Political Solutions: Government Policies

Producer countries need the resources to rigorously monitor and enforce forest protection on the ground, as well as the political will to embrace transparency. Greenpeace is working with civil society on the ground in several countries – from the Democratic Republic of Congo to Indonesia – to this end.

Consumer countries must recognise that demand from their markets is fuelling this environmental disaster, and ensure their forest products can be traced to non-destructive sources. Greenpeace works to investigate, document and expose the chain of destruction that allows ancient rainforest products to end up on our supermarket shelves.

The Chinese government has already recognized the consequences of illegal logging and associated trade. In recent years, the government has signed a number of international agreements and participated in the Forest Law Enforcement and Governance initiatives.

The Forest Stewardship Council and Sustainable Forests

An international, non-profit association, the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certifies forest products that are produced from ecologically and socially responsible forest management.

This forest certification system was established to offer a single label that consumers can trust, with the strictest standards.

The FSC has over 400 members in over 50 countries representing economic, social indigenous and environmental interests. Greenpeace is a founding member of the FSC, and is active in its ongoing development.

How does the FSC Work?

FSC certification deals with how forests are harvested. It strives to ensure the ecosystem of the forest is not damaged, and only low volumes of trees are extracted. This method decreases the impacts on plants and animals.

The FSC oversees third party, voluntary certification of forests. The certifications cover all types of situations, including communal and group certifications, natural and semi-natural forests, government owned forests and plantations.

The FSC certification also means that the forest has been independently inspected and evaluated for compliance with local laws, respect for indigenous and traditional peoples’ rights, the health, safety and rights of forest workers, and the provision of a wide range of social benefits.

FSC certificates are strongest when they are matched with careful consideration of where logging occurs. FSC certification can ensure that high conservation-value forests are protected, while areas open to logging are managed sustainably.

Concerns

But there are concerns that FSC may be expanding its certification too rapidly in some of the most difficult and controversial forest regions in the world. These regions include the Congo basin and the Canadian and Russian boreal forests, while chain of custody in China and Vietnam present its own issues as well.

Greenpeace is concerned that FSC certification may be granted to companies that do not meet key standards and policies. Greenpeace has also identified several weaknesses in the FSC, including a lack of guidance on how to manage large uninterrupted forests and other High Conservation Value Forests; a lack of guidance on the feasibility and suitability of operating in high risk regions; and a lack of effort to address poor on-the-ground performance, especially for large-scale logging operations.

Greenpeace believes that globally, buying FSC-certified paper and timber products remains the best available way to ensure these products come from environmentally and socially responsible sources. But it is vital that the FSC address these weakness to maintain its credibility as well as the support and confidence of its members.

Best available option

As consumer demand for sustainably harvested forest products continues to grow, a variety of certification systems have been developed, often by industry alone. Labels such as SFI, CSA and ISO simply do not offer the assurance customers are seeking. FSC is the only certification system supported by Greenpeace and the majority of environmental organizations.

Pushed by strong public demand and non-governmental organisations, real commitments from corporate buyers to purchase from only FSC-certified forests can help stop ancient forest destruction. Whether you are buying as an individual or as a company, demand products from FSC-certified forests and insist the product has an FSC label.

Find out more here.

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