Major British businesses join with WWF to tackle forest destruction

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image003British businesses from the high street and timber, construction, publishing, DIY and grocery industries are among the first UK firms committing to responsible forest trade to help end deforestation around the world with a shift to 100% sustainable timber and wood products by 2020.

Well known firms including M& S, B&Q, Penguin Random House and Carillion have all signed up to WWF-UK’s new forest campaign. WWF is campaigning to close the legal loopholes in the European Union Timber Regulation (EUTR), which mean less than 50% of the value of timber products coming into Europe are confirmed as coming from legal sources. Everyday objects such as chairs, books and musical instruments are currently not included in the legislation.

Illegal and unsustainable logging contributes to deforestation and degradation across the world’s most important forest regions such as Russia’s Far East, Central Africa, Latin America and South East Asia and has massive impacts on the habitats of some of the world’s most endangered species, as well as local people and indigenous communities in some of the world’s poorest countries. The Coalition government previously made a commitment to make it a criminal offence in the UK to import or possess illegal timber.

The companies signed up at the campaign’s start with a pledge to ensure all their wood is legally and sustainably sourced by 2020 are:

  • Argos
  • Boots UK
  • British Sky Broadcasting
  • BSW Timber
  • Canal & River Trust
  • Carillion
  • Homebase
  • Lend Lease
  • Kimberly Clark
  • Kingfisher Plc (B&Q, Screwfix)
  • M&S
  • Pearson
  • Penguin Random House
  • Polestar UK Print and Polestar Bicester
  • Pureprint Group
  • Redrow Homes
  • Steinbeis
  • Tesco Stores
  • Travis Perkins
  • Wm. Morrison Supermarkets

These companies all deliver forest products in one shape or form into the UK market – as cards, books, paper, furniture, fencing, flooring, homes, infrastructure, venues, and more.

Julia Young, manager, WWF Global Forest and Trade Network UK, said: “We all use products from the forests daily in our homes and at work, from the chairs we sit on to the books we read, and for businesses it’s essential to have a sustainable supply of materials, for now and tomorrow. The businesses signing up know this and are taking action to ensure a future for our forests, it’s time for the government to make good on its promises to do the same.”

David Picton, Carillion’s chief sustainability officer, said: “Carillion is fully committed to supporting the WWF Forest Campaign and to the importance of sourcing timber from sustainably managed forests. A key part of our sustainability strategy is to use timber from sources which meet Forest Stewardship Council standards and we are also working with our supply chain partners to meet this aim.”

Tom Berry, head of sustainability, EMEA, Kimberly Clark, said: “Kimberly Clark’s trusted brands like Andrex and Kleenex depend on responsibly sourced fibre. We have a long history of work with WWF and are pleased to support this campaign. It will be a critical step in helping secure the future of the world’s forests.”

Fiona Wheatley, Plan A sustainable development manager, Marks & Spencer, said: “We have an existing commitment that all the wood used to build and fit our stores, to run our business, and to manufacture and package our products will be responsibly sourced by 2020 – we’re currently at 96%. This campaign can only help us and we’re delighted to work with WWF to make sure business support for legal and sustainable forestry is heard loud and clear.”

Martyn Jones, group corporate services director, Morrisons, said: “We are pleased to reaffirm our commitment to responsible timber sourcing throughout our supply chain by supporting the WWF’s UK Forest Campaign.”

Julie Downey, UK, Australia NZ country manager, Steinbeis: “We see this campaign as not only a way of helping eliminate illegal timber trade but additionally increasing awareness, support and investment in sustainable practices.”

Many more companies are expected to join up over the coming months to demand that British business investments that depend on a steady supply of timber are guaranteed a sustainable long term supply by levelling the playing field for the market in sustainable timber.

The existing loopholes in the current legislation to combat illegal timber means some industries are exempt from ensuring that their wood or products have come from legal sources. Members of the public could unwittingly purchase products from illegal forest clearance, which has a huge impact on some of the world’s poorest countries.

In 2015 the timber regulation is  due to be reviewed and WWF and its campaign supporters are calling on the UK government to demand the EU makes the necessary improvements to the regulation to ensure that  all timber products are covered and thus end the import of illegal wood.

Longer term WWF and its business supporters will also be working to find ways to encourage the market towards supporting sustainable forestry and trade.