WWF response to Global Witness report

Posted on 26 July 2011  |  9 comments
In response Global Witness’ report Pandering to the Loggers released on Monday 25 July, WWF issues the following statement:

For 20 years, the Global Forest & Trade Network (GFTN) has worked successfully to create a global marketplace for sustainably sourced forest products. The programme now includes approximately 300 companies, communities, NGOs in more than 30 countries around the world.

GFTN believes in providing practical solutions that allow companies to develop and implement region-specific strategies that promote responsible forestry and trade, combat illegal logging and protect some of planet’s most valuable resources.

Examples of GFTN’s major achievements include:

  • GFTN has been instrumental in the creation of markets for credibly certified forest products. Since its inception, GFTN has been a mechanism to promote and develop markets for forest certification, especially through the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC). All GFTN participants are required to set and meet targets concerning credible certification. Today more than 50 per cent of the global market for FSC material is traded by GFTN participants, and many non-GFTN participants have been driven to adopting chain of custody or to certifying their forests as a result of the commitments made by GFTN participants. GFTN’s practical approach has enabled the industry to be part of the solution to unsustainable deforestation and forest degradation.
  • GFTN’s stepwise approach to responsible purchasing of forest products has become an industry standard. GFTN formalized the stepwise approach to responsible sourcing of forest products in 2003. Today this system is used not only by participants, but has become an industry benchmark. Through a series of steps, members can work through the levels of verification they need to indicate to themselves (and to GFTN) that they are making progress across the spectrum of sources they use. The approach has been instrumental in increasing demand for certified and legally verified products, and huge increases in the transparency of supply chains. The process has demonstrated that market demand can both drive certification and improve general performance.
  • GFTN strategy for forest certification. GFTN pioneered a strategy in 2005 that has enabled the certification of tropical forests. Since then, work with committed companies and managers operating in a tough environment has paid off with the certification of forests in many countries where previously there had been no certified forestry operations. This approach has been core to GFTN’s work in producer countries, and since 2007, GFTN participants have been able to achieve FSC certification in over 20 million hectares of forest.
  • GFTN has played a key role in promoting transparency in supply chains with respect to legality of forestry and trade. GFTN’s 2006 Keep It Legal and 2009 Exporting in a Shifting Legal Landscape guides provided essential informationregarding existing forest laws in major producer countries, and showed buyers how to assess the level of compliance in their supply chains. GFTN’s guidance is also used by producers to assess the level of compliance within their own supply chains and how to demonstrate this to their customers.

“We believe the private sector can be a significant positive force to save the world’s most valuable and threatened forests,” says George White, Head of GFTN. “By mainstreaming responsible forestry practices among the forest-related sector, GFTN creates market conditions that help conserve the world's forests, while providing social and economic benefits for the businesses and people that depend on them.”

“Of course, some GFTN partners have a way to go on their journey to sustainability. But these are precisely the companies that should be in GFTN, and we applaud their commitments to improving their environmental performance. Companies caught flouting the rules and spirit of GFTN will be removed from the network,” says White.

For further information:
Chris Chaplin, Media Officer, WWF International, +65 9826 3802, cchaplin@wwf.sg 
Kayan Mentarang National Park, East Kalimantan (K. Timur), Kalimantan (Indonesian Borneo), Indonesia
© Alain Compost / WWF


  • Tin Alvarez

    How exactly does this statement disprove the sensitive issues Global Witness raised in the John Vidal article (http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2011/jul/25/wwf-accused-sustainable-timber-scheme) and substantiated in the full report (http://www.globalwitness.org/sites/default/files/library/Pandering_to_the_loggers_WEB.pdf)?

  • Tom Picken, Global Witness

    Hi, Global Witness here. Tackling deforestation is of course extremely challenging and it requires getting the balance right between engaging those actors responsible, and holding them to account. We believe GFTN has got that balance wrong. We have meticulously documented all of our findings and have suggested a number of concrete recommendations for fixing the problems in GFTN. We are further concerned WWF responses to date have not satisfactorily addressed our findings, and in some cases have evaded the issues. Please see our statement in response to WWF reactions at www.globalwitness.org/panderingstatement

  • Maibrit Nielsen

    I would like to know which companies are participants in this scheme and what is it that makes WWF trust them suddenly??

  • christian

    I want to join forest trading

  • Michael Lee

    I worked in WWF-HK before. To be fair to both parties, let's read the claims of the Global Witness Report and see whether WWF's responses (the one at eco-business.com and WWF International website) address the claims.

  • Andy Kenworthy

    As a former employee of WWF-UK and still consultant to them, I preferred this version of the response: http://www.eco-business.com/opinion/wwf-response-to-global-witness-allegations/

    In short, we do a tough job in a dirty world. Anything helping us to do it better, even tough criticism, is good.

  • Michael Lee

    I feel disatisfied with WWF's statement because you have failed to 'respond' specifically to the accusations. This statement is essentially a reiteration of your achievements. Achievement and failure are not mutually exclusive. You may achieve A but you may have failed B and B may be a backbone for the whole scheme. So you need to address the Global Witness' accusations in a specific sense.

    A conservation group stands on the moral high ground to drive changes. This is the reason why industrial partners consider you attractive and would partner with you and make changes in exchange for better corporate image and better revenue. If you lose your credibility, you lose your moral high ground. The loss is especially serious when the attack on your credibility is targeted on your mission to conserve and drive for better industrial practice which is one of the most important arms of your organization. A failure to respond specifically to these accusatins with the highest transparency and releasing as much essential information as possible will erode the public's trust on your stand.

    I hope WWF can live up to its own standard which it uses to criticise those that are against conservation.

  • Sue Abbott

    None of the issues raised in the Global Witness Report have been addressed in WWF's rehearsed discussion delivered in a parallel dimension

  • Anna Smith

    The Global Witness Report states"....., the scheme has never, in Global Witness’s opinion, been adequately evaluated in terms of its rules,
    operation, membership and, crucially, its impact on forests." Is that the case? If it's not, can WWF point me those evaluations? and if not, why is that comment not addressed in WWF's response. It seems to me that that sort of analysis would go a long way in "backing up" the statements you make in your response. Thanks and keep up the often difficult work of engaging with the private sector!

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