Harnessing Purchasing Power to Tackle Deforestation and Climate Change | WWF

Harnessing Purchasing Power to Tackle Deforestation and Climate Change

Posted on 29 October 2010
George White, GFTN Head
The future of the world’s forests depends largely upon the well-being of the millions of people that call them home and depend on them for their livelihoods. More than 400 million people live in or near forests, of which 60 million are indigenous, depending on them for subsistence and income. As stewards of these biologically rich forests, these communities and small forest owners play a vital role in sustaining the capacity of these resources. And if the richness of forests is to survive, poverty alleviation and economic development must be integrated into the forest equation.

Over the past quarter, the GFTN has witnessed substantive momentum in this direction, realizing benefits of our work to build capacity among these important stakeholders in responsible forestry. From the Embera-Wounaan in Panama’s Darien rainforest to farmers in Vietnam’s Quang Tri province, responsible forestry is key in creating sustainable livelihoods. These examples both demonstrate a successful model that we would hope inspire other countries, like Finland, where the new FSC Standard should provide a mechanism for industry, small holders and indigenous peoples to coalesce and engage with a credible certification process with benefits for all.

In the same way, our efforts to create a market for legal and responsible forestry is starting to reap the benefits of a legislative environment that stresses the importance of traceability in the supply chains of the forest products industry. With the passing of the EU Timber Regulation, effectively two of the world’s major markets are now closed to illegal timber.

Efforts like the “due diligence” Regulation in Europe and the amended Lacey Act in the United States, underscore how consuming countries can harness their purchasing power to tackle the pressing concerns of deforestation and climate change and ultimately advance responsible forestry.

However, to truly transform the nature of the global forest products supply chain— and, consequently, the industry’s impact on forest resources worldwide—these laws need to be more than just a piece of paper. They need to have strict enforcement and penalties across all member states to ensure that illegal logging and its associated trade is eliminated. While it is great that legal compliance is no longer “optional” for many, we should not forget that this is but one step on the road to responsible forest management.

George White
George White, GFTN Head
© WWF/GFTN Enlarge