Our forests are our future

Our forests are our future


Sunday was International Day of Forests for 2021, and a time to reflect on what we can do to help strengthen forest systems. After all, forests are where timber comes from, and when we lose forests around the world to deforestation, whether from illegal logging or conversion of land for agriculture, this undermines the future of the industry. With no forests, there is no future for the industry.

Using market forces, we can do a lot to protect forests. Protecting forests is why we have our world-leading Responsible Purchasing Policy (RPP) System. It is why we lobby the Government to grow more forests in the UK. It is why we support Forest Legality, Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT) as an enterprise; most recently via our Conversations about Climate Change exhibition, which you can view online right now.

The restoration and sustainable management of forests is essential to addressing the climate-change and biodiversity crises. When forestry is done right it can transform lives and livelihoods, create a whole industry focused on reducing carbon emissions, and support biodiversity. There are many examples that show the positive impact of sustainable forest management.

CONFOR’s Biodiversity, Forestry and Wood provides an excellent showcase of sustainable forestry management with the example of Kielder forest in Northumberland, which was planted in the 1920s and 30s. Kielder is England’s largest planted forest, covering 65,000 hectares, and it is also home to around 50 per cent of England’s red squirrel population. Without it this species would be almost entirely absent from England.

Looking further abroad, one of the key supporters of our current Conversations about Climate Change exhibition, Interholco, through their IFO subsidiary, help manage a forest in the Republic of Congo, which is a stronghold for 70,000 Western lowland gorillas and thousands of forest elephants. IFO’s forest teams only remove one tree every two hectares – the equivalent of two football pitches – on average. The concession is divided into 30 different areas, with only one of these areas harvested annually to let other sections of forest regenerate for 30 years.

Sustainable forest management and responsible procurement are not static targets. We need to stay vigilant to keep illegal timber out of the supply chain, through our RPP system, and as purchasers, we must use our influence to encourage best practice.

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