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British businesses make sustainable timber pledge



A coalition of leading British businesses, including Marks & Spencer, Boots and Penguin Random House, have pledged to use only 100% sustainable timber and wood products by 2020.

Businesses from the high street and timber, construction, publishing, DIY and grocery industries, including many other household names, have signed up to the commitment to help tackle deforestation.

The campaign, launched by WWF-UK, is battling to close legal loopholes in the European Union Timber Regulation that mean less than half of timber products imported into Europe are proven to come from legal sources.

The signatories of the WWF commitment, also including Morrisons, Kingfisher and BSkyB, all bring forest products into the UK market – from cards and books to furniture and infrastructure.

Under the terms of the deal, each company must now ensure all wood is legally and sustainably sourced by 2020. Many more companies are expected to sign up in the coming months.

“We all use products from the forests daily in our homes and at work, from the chairs we sit on to the books we read, and for businesses it’s essential to have a sustainable supply of materials, for now and tomorrow,” said Julia Young, manager of the WWF Global Forest and Trade Network UK.

“The businesses signing up know this and are taking action to ensure a future for our forests, it’s time for the government to make good on its promises to do the same.” 

While destroying precious and unique ecosystems around the world, unsustainable deforestation also contributes to climate change. 

It is thought that around a quarter of all carbon emissions are absorbed by the biosphere – by living organisms but especially by trees. When trees are cut down this carbon is released, adding to warming temperatures. 

This week, governments and businesses from around the world – including the UK – also pledged to end deforestation by 2030, in a plan that backers say could save between 4.5 billion and 8.8 billion tonnes of carbon emissions each year.

Though not legally binding, the declaration also calls for the restoration of more than 350 million hectares of forests and croplands. 

“Putting a stop to deforestation is the smart thing to do,” said Justine Greening, the UK’s secretary of state for international development. 

“Without action, the would will get hungrier, poorer and more dangerous in years to come. There is no point building a health clinic for poor people in Bangladesh if it will get washed away by the next floods.”

Photo: crustmania via Flickr

Further reading:

UN climate summit: Governments and businesses pledge to halt deforestation by 2030

Ending deforestation would cut global emissions by one-fifth

Global forest watch deforestation monitoring tool launched to change the way businesses manage forests

Clearing of Amazon rainforest for agriculture emits 54 million tons of carbon per year

Climate change and deforestation increasing forest fire risk in Amazon