"Sustainable Forestry" Scheme Blasted Loggers
by Danna Smith, Dogwood Alliance
San Francisco, CA - As executives of the world's largest timber corporations strategize behind closed doors today on the roll-out this Fall of a $20 million public relations and advertising campaign designed to boost their environmental credentials, a unique coalition of conservationists and independent saw mill owners criticized the effort as a "fleecing" of the American consumer. The American Forest & Paper Association (AF&PA) is holding its annual board meeting in San Francisco today.
Under the guise of their "Sustainable Forestry Initiative," or SFI, the timber industry trade association is trying to convince consumers that they are taking care of America's forests.
Critics of the initiative include Rodney Robbins, a third generation logger from Union Mills, North Carolina. Mr. Robbins, who depends on mature, selectively cut, forests for his livelihood was critical of the initiative.
"All of us in the industry know this thing is a sham," stated Mr. Robbins. "The big boys (AF&PA) are trying to promote themselves as some Godly stewards of the environment, when what they're really doing is destroying the land and forcing people like me out of a job by taking away immature timber."
Under pressure from conservationists, several of the world's largest retailers, including Lowe's and Home Depot, have made commitments to buy products coming from well-managed forests that have been independently certified. Critics say the SFI is Big Timber's latest attempt to avoid substantial changes in their forest practices and gloss over their image.
Forty conservation groups took today's industry board meeting as an opportunity to send a letter calling on AF&PA to abandon their misleading promotional campaign.
"SFI is little more than a new name for the old forestry," stated Dr. Michael Marx, Executive Director of ForestEthics. "It is designed to mislead the public into thinking that huge clearcuts, excessive use of toxic chemicals, and cutting old growth trees are ecologically sustainable."
For example, some of the corporations under the SFI program include:
- International Paper IP - the world's largest timber corporation and biggest cutter of forests in the southeastern coastal plain of North Carolina along with the entire South. According to a US Forest Service report released July 18, trees there are being cut down much faster than they are growing.
- Pacific Lumber - A northern California timber corporation with a long history of violating California's forestry laws and cutting old growth forests.
- Interfor - The Canadian timber corporation infamous for clearcutting the pristine watersheds and old growth forests of British Columbia's Clayquot Sound, prompting international protests.
"SFI lacks public accountability, scientific benchmarks and protections for workers, communities and wildlife," stated Danna Smith with the southern
based Dogwood Alliance. "More profits for the timber corporations, less forests for American families to use and enjoy - it's the Same-old Forest Industry."