Deforestation Update

According to National Geographic, areas of forest the size of Panama are lost each year to deforestation. Farmers “slash and burn” acres at a time to plant crops and create grazing areas for livestock; the wood and paper industries cut down untold numbers of trees daily, sometimes illegally clear cutting roadways to bring them deeper into the forests; in urban areas the patches of forest that do remain are cut down to accommodate urban sprawl; and nature also plays its role with wildfires burning up even more of this precious resource. Only 30 per cent of the earth’s surface is now covered by forests, not nearly enough to protect the 70 per cent of our planet’s plants and animals that live in them.

rainforest deforestation 2There is little doubt that industry plays a major role in this destruction and that industry must also play a major role in reversing the trend of irresponsible deforestation. Last spring, Nestlé was the first global consumer goods company to become a member of The Forest Trust (TFT),  a non-profit organization dedicated to supporting product and supply chains that bring about sustainable development. Working with TFT, Nestlé defined the Responsible Sourcing Guidelines, “a set of critical requirements to guide the Nestlé procurement process and to ensure compliance with the Nestlé Supplier Code.”

A year has passed since Nestlé announced its partnership with TFT and its commitment to helping suppliers become No Deforestation ones and Greenpeace  is crediting Nestlé with “making a serious attempt to raise the bar when it comes to corporate action against deforestation.”

The good news is that the trend appears to be catching. Recently Golden Agri Resources (GAR), a major supplier of palm oil, committed to stop clearing areas designated High Carbon Storage (HCS), peat lands and areas of High Conservation Value. The bad news is that despite the good work of TFT, pressure from Greenpeace, and commitments from major organizations like Nestlé, deforestation is still happening at a rapid pace. Asia Pulp & Paper (APP)who are owed by the Sinar Mas Group, the same parent company as GAR, continues to strip vast acres of Indonesian rainforest every year; including the habitat of the endangered Sumatran tiger.

It is only with the intense pressure of people power that the good news will eventually outweigh the bad news. As Greenpeace noted in their press release “people power in action is a beautiful thing.”

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Alison Wheatley

Alison Wheatley

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