“Investing in forests is an insurance policy for the planet.” – United Nations’ Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon
It’s World Forestry Day; an occasion meant to help us understand the importance of forests, but also the challenges forests face globally. Even after learning some facts about the crucial role forests play, the real challenge is in understanding how forestry practices could be impacting your business right now.
According to the United Nations:
The International Day of Forests is held annually on March 21st to raise awareness of the importance of forests to people. Forests shelter, nurture and inspire. 1.6 billion people depend on forests for their livelihoods, medicine, fuel, and food. Forests cover 31% of the global land area.
Forests are the most biologically-diverse ecosystems on land, home to more than 80% of the terrestrial species of animals, plants and insects. They also provide shelter, jobs and security for forest-dependent communities.
Despite all of these priceless ecological, economic, social and health benefits, global deforestation continues at an alarming rate – 13 million hectares of forest are destroyed annually. Deforestation accounts for 12 to 20 percent of the global greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to climate change.
Did you know?
- Forested watersheds and wetlands supply 75 percent of the world’s accessible freshwater.
- About one-third of the world’s largest cities obtain a significant proportion of their drinking water directly from forested protected areas.
- Forests act as natural water filters.
- Climate change is altering forests’ role in water flows and the availability of water resources.
- Forests have a crucial role in building and strengthening resilience.
Forests And Your Business
The importance is real. The functions of forests are critical. The connection between forests and drinking water is profound.
But what can your business do, or rather, how does any of that relate to your company?
Wood, windows and sills, furniture, tool handles, paper, books, boxes, napkins, business cards, carpet, upholstery, paper plates and bowls, stairways, paper towels, toilet paper, and absorbency products are only a fraction of the wood-based products you are likely to see around your facility.
Some of those products are difficult to do anything about. If your building utilizes wood framing studs sourced traditionally, there isn’t anything you’re going to do about it now. The same holds true for the carpet and other products that were already installed. But your business also purchases ongoing consumables like paper towels, toilet paper, printer paper, napkins, and more that are available in a variety of sustainable options.
If your business is developing its Social Responsibility policies, sustainability goals, or an Environmentally Preferable Purchasing plan, here are just two certifications you can use to ensure sustainable sourcing of your wood-based products (here’s a complete list of certifications that matter):
Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) Certified products enable consumers to meet their current needs without sacrificing the future health of the world’s forests. Over the past two decades, FSC has become recognized as the most thorough and credible forest certification system through the development of 10 principles and 57 criteria that apply to all FSC-certified forests. Whether your project is looking to attain LEED certification for green building or only to increase the use of sustainable products, FSC-certified wood, paper, and other forest products are derived from sustainably-managed forests.
The Sustainable Forestry Initiative® (SFI) promotes sustainable forestry management, improved forestry practices, and responsible purchasing of forest products. The SFI Standard requires program participants to purchase wood from known and legal sources, conserve biological diversity and promote socially sound practices. The SFI program is made up of the following components: the SFI Forest Management Standard, fiber sourcing certification, the chain of custody standard, and SFI on-product labels.
Steps You Can Take
Those are just two certifications that matter, but here are some tips to rely on for paper purchasing responsibility:
- Reduce paper consumption – print on both sides, recycle, reuse, encourage paper efficiency company-wide
- Avoid virgin tree fibers – prioritize recycled content, prioritize FSC-certified products, publicize your decisions to encourage others to do the same.
- Buy clean paper – promote unbleached or chlorine-free bleached paper.
Additional resources are plentiful for a company looking to change some of its standard operating procedures to develop Corporate Social Responsibility measures, sustainability goals, or institute an Environmentally Preferable Purchasing plan, but it all starts with understanding a need. On World Forestry Day we can all appreciate the need for responsibly managed forests.