Sustainable forest eco-label cast into doubt

An organisation claiming to sell environmentally friendly timber products has been accused of deceiving industry and the public by continuing to use unsustainable logging methods.

Environmental group the Rainforest Action Network (RAN) claims the Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI) eco-labels merely green-wash unsustainable forestry practices that are causing widespread, long-term damage to water quality and wildlife habitats.

Dubbed “Same-old Forest Industry” by RAN, the SFI label and programme allegedly have been rejected by almost every leading environmental group for its failure to protect old growth and endangered forests.

“Companies developed the SFI to convince corporate customers that they are buying wood and paper products from sustainably managed forests,” said Jessica Bell, a campaigner for RAN. “Customer have a right to know the truth, so the environmental community is coming together to counter deceptive claims being made by the American Forest & Paper Association’s SFI greenwashing scheme.”

The eco-label stands accused by a coalition of environmental groups including RAN, the NRDC and the American Lands Alliance of logging old growth and endangered forestlands, converting natural forests to barren tree plantations and clear-cutting excessively.

The coalition has also claimed that the SFI labels are allowed on wood, timber and paper products that haven’t even been SFI-certified, showing no indication of their true origins and contents.

“Forest certification should help consumers choose wood and paper products from forests managed to exemplary environmental and social standards,” spokesman for the American Lands Alliance Daniel Hall stated.

“Unfortunately, the SFI is a fake environmental certification and wood labelling programme that greenwashes harmful industrial logging.”

According to figures from RAN, 22% of the world’s forests are still intact, and only 4% of original forests remain in the US.

By Jane Kettle

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