WWF Responds to Global Witness' "Pandering to the Loggers" Report

WWF GFTN photo

Screenshot via GFTN

Global Witness released a report yesterday claiming that WWF's partnerships with logging companies, created to bring sustainability to the global timber industry, have instead had the opposite effect and facilitated illegal logging and human rights abuses.

WWF wants people to hear its side of the story. The group has issued a response to the report, saying that the Global Forest & Trade Network has been able to "create a global marketplace for sustainably sourced forest products." The objective of the network, it said, is to provide "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."The WWF response highlighted a few points that it believes illustrate GFTN's major achievements. Among them:

  • 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.

WWF stands behind the approach of "mainstreaming responsible forestry practices" and using the market to help conserve the world's forests.

Head of GFTN George White acknowledged imperfection, but said: "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."

To read the full response, visit WWF.

More on logging and deforestation:
Is WWF Selling Out Endangered Forests to Corporations?
Orangutan Population in Borneo National Park Declines 90% in Last Five Years

Sketchy Logging Practice Threatens the Only Orangutans Successfully Reintroduced into the Wild
Google Earth Animation Reveals Sumatran Tiger Habitat Slated for Logging (Video)
Logging, Palm Oil and Human Rights in Borneo: Malaysian Government Pushes Ahead By Ousting Indigenous Leaders

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