Big businesses throw weight behind sustainable timber

Ikea, Tetrapak and Kingfisher are the founding business partners of the 'Value and Impact' (VIA) initiative, which aims to promote the benefits of legal, responsibly sourced, sustainable timber.

VIA plans to tackle the imminent conflict between demand and supply in the timber industry, whereby wood usage is expected to treble by 2050, yet deforestation is rife thanks to the value of cleared land.

“Our forests are fighting for their lives,” said Richard Gillies, group sustainability director for Kingfisher. “As a human being I care about the environmental and the social impacts that it is having but as a retailer I also understand the devastating impacts of supply insecurity. The business community can help reverse the deforestation spiral by getting behind sustainable forestry management so that we can get it to scale. 

“That’s why we’ve formed this collaboration. We believe business can be a force for good in keeping forests standing but to do that they need to understand the value of certification and sustainable forestry management. That’s why there’s a pressing need for this collaboration and the business-ready analysis we’re focused on developing.” 

The initiative forms part of Kingfisher’s Net Positive programme, which has helped the firm responsibly source 87% of timber used in its products – B&Q UK has reached 100%.

FSC influence

Well-managed forests make wood a perfect material – it’s renewable, recoverable and bio-degradable. Wood can be substituted for many less sustainable, non-renewable alternatives and has a very long life. Forests also hold large amounts of carbon.

The collaborators believe the best way to save forests is to make them financially viable, with sustainable wood extraction a keystone strategy. The group also supports the development and implementation of a methodology for assessing the positive impacts of Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) forest management.

VIA hopes its support will enable the FSC to broaden its remit, bringing expert forest management certification to 266 million hectares of production forest in the tropics that are operating without a sustainable plan.

The two-year initiative runs from September 2014 to 2016 and is coordinated by the ISEAL Alliance.

Earlier in the year, a Greenpeace report revealed the ‘massive and growing’ scale of illegal, unsustainable timber laundering in Brazil.

Brad Allen

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