Harnessing Corporate Power and Using the FSC Tool to Save Forests
“Corporate power can be used to destroy forests—or to protect them,” states the website for ForestEthics, a nonprofit organization based in San Francisco, CA. Their mission is to protect forests and the people and wildlife that depend on them through transforming businesses that use forest products to make change happen on the ground.
Originally formed in 1994 during the fight to protect Clayoquot Sound from industrial logging, ForestEthics has spent the past dozen years pioneering innovative solutions to protect “endangered forests.” By educating the public about the sources of their wood and paper products, ForestEthics uses the marketplace to help corporations that want to act responsibly.
In the case of Clayoquot Sound, instead of continuing the demonstrations that had been going on for years, or engaging in costly litigation or lobbying, ForestEthics focused their strategy on the marketplace and convinced the companies that were buying the clear-cut wood from the logging company to consider alternatives. Once the logging company saw the potential decline on their bottom line, they eventually agreed to end the clear-cutting. Since then, ForestEthics has been replicating and building on this model, and using marketplace tools such as FSC, to protect “endangered forests” around the globe.
When asked how FSC helps ForestEthics to achieve their mission, Todd Paglia, executive director of ForestEthics, stated that, “we look at FSC as a tool for pushing the industry towards more sustainable practices.”
In the paper sector, ForestEthics is currently campaigning against retail catalog companies, such as Victoria’s Secret, and office suppliers such as OfficeMax, to stop using fiber from “endangered forests.” Paglia stated that in the paper sector, their goal to show that, “one tool is recycled fiber, the other is FSC certified fiber. They are not mutually exclusive, but instead are a great combination. The best way to ensure that any particular paper is sustainable is by having as much recycled and FSC certified fiber combined as possible.” Recent victories for ForestEthics in the catalog industry are Norm Thompson Outfitters, Williams-Sonoma, and Dell Computers, each of which have adopted policies that specify use of FSC-certified papers.
Lewis Fix, director of business development for Domtar, one of North America’s leading paper manufacturers and an FSC certificate holder, said that “Because Domtar EarthChoice papers are FSC certified, they are supported by organizations like ForestEthics. ForestEthics has proved to be a good partner in communicating our mutual commitment to sustainability in the forest, because that is where our commitment begins.”
ForestEthics will also begin moving forward in the green building sector this summer when they will launch a campaign to educate major home building companies about the wood they use in their construction projects. When asked how they felt FSC complimented ForestEthics’ green building campaign goals, Paglia stated that, “FSC is the only system we feel represents a significant move towards sustainability. As we move forward with our home building campaign this summer, focusing on major home builders, FSC is a key solution there because we are seeing a lot of unsustainable logging happening to feed that sector.”
ForestEthics also supports LEED for Homes, a new rating program recently launched by the U.S. Green Building Council for the residential construction sector, which follows on the heels of the successful LEED programs for commercial construction. Paglia stated that, “we support LEED and USGBC and feel FSC is an essential component to any system dealing with more sustainable homes. I know there are other green building systems out there, but if a system doesn’t incorporate FSC as a central component of its program, it’s not worth looking at, and it’s not going to insulate those homebuilders from environmental protests.”
ForestEthics provides several tools on their website, such as sample purchasing policies that specify the use of FSC certified wood and paper products, to help companies who are interested in responsible procurement. A list of companies that ForestEthics has worked with on forest protection policies is also available on their website.
This article is part of the following newsletter: March 2006
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