By Katharine Eaton
Today, June 5th, is World Environment Day. Established by the United Nations General Assembly in 1972, this annual event aims to raise global awareness and take positive action to protect nature and the planet.
With trees as their root resource, paper and wood products have a strong connection to the environment. Through sustainable forest management, our industry is able to provide renewable natural raw materials for production of recyclable paper and packaging products, as well as energy-efficient and environmentally beneficial building materials.
But sustainable forest management is not a mere option for us. All AF&PA members who own forestland conform to a sustainable forest management program, and those who source wood fiber comply with sustainable procurement principles. In addition, we have an industry-wide sustainability goal to increase the amount of fiber procured from certified forestlands or through certified fiber sourcing programs in the U.S., and to work with governments, industry, environmental organizations, and other stakeholders to promote policies around the world to decrease illegal logging.
Our industry uses trees that are grown in sustainably managed forestlands for the purpose of manufacturing paper and wood products. Without a regular harvesting of these trees to manufacture products, forestlands may be sold or used for other purposes such as development or agriculture – purposes that would not include the consistent replanting of trees. Today, thanks to consistent reforestation, there are 20 percent more trees in the United States than there were on the first World Environment Day.
Other benefits of sustainable forest management include conservation, biodiversity and wildlife protection. Illegal logging, on the other hand, contributes to global deforestation and climate change, threatens many species with extinction, denies forest-dependent communities access to resources, and undermines legitimate businesses. Industry efforts to combat illegal logging run from collaborations with governments and other stakeholders on effective policies to safeguard against procurement from illegally logged sources to support for initiatives that aim to reduce demand for illegally harvested forest products.
Our industry practices sustainable forest management because it keeps forests plentiful, supports jobs and the economy, and protects the environment – on World Environment Day, and every other day.