Many companies are greenwashing, hurting the chances of protecting these forests. Here are the top greenwashing issues you can expect to see in the sustainable forestry industry today.
Forests are a vital part of the environment, providing clean air, water and food. Unfortunately, many of these forests are in danger.
The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization estimates the world has lost about 420 million hectares of the world’s tree cover since 1990 — and the rate of deforestation is increasing. The primary cause of this deforestation is logging for profit. Companies harvest trees from forest reserves using heavy equipment and logging attachments and sell them as timber or wood products.
Companies who harvest wood from endangered forests often claim to be “sustainable” or “green,” but they are not doing enough to protect the forests they reap from daily. They also must support conservation efforts that could save endangered forests in the long term by reducing demand for timber products or creating sustainable alternatives.
The sustainable forestry industry has a long history of disregarding Indigenous peoples’ consent to log their lands. For example, the Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI) certifies the logging practices companies use in the United States. It states clearly on its website that it does not require organizations to gain consent from Indigenous peoples before logging operations on their land.
In fact, many SFIs do not require that companies have consent — they only require that they follow specific guidelines when they conduct their operations. This means businesses can log on Indigenous peoples’ lands regardless of whether they agree with logging taking place.
This is a serious issue since many organizations claim to secure their rights. However, companies are still undermining their rights to control what happens on their land and how the sustainable forestry industry uses it.
The sustainable forestry industry is a complex system of practices that aims to preserve the ecosystem while maintaining a healthy economy for those who work in the forest. However, this system does more harm than good when protecting endangered species.
For example, the logging industry consists of removing trees from a forest, replacing them with new ones and then harvesting those trees at some point. SFI-certified companies can repeat this cycle hundreds or thousands of times with no negative environmental impact.
However, when logging companies cut down trees home to endangered animals, they are destroying their habitat and risking their lives at best — and killing them at worst. This has led many ecologists to question whether sustainable forestry is actually “sustainable” if it harms animals like these.
The label “SFI” is supposed to indicate a product made using lumber is responsibly managed — that is, the forestry companies sustainably harvest and do no harm to the ecosystem.
In reality, however, it is possible for products carrying the SFI label to be harvested in ways that damage the environment. For example, some businesses have used the SFI label on products made from lumber illegally logged in national parks or other protected areas. In fact, many countries require organizations to certify their products as having been legally harvested before they can use any SFI labels.
This is not just an issue for consumers looking for sustainable options — it is also an issue for companies trying to abide by their standards. The problem with inaccurate labels is they can make it difficult to know where their materials come from and whether or not they are doing everything they can to ensure responsible forestry practices.
The sustainable forestry industry is a growing sector that needs better regulations. It should require businesses to follow clearer, strict guidelines and avoid greenwashing. However, greenwashing does not seem to be going away anytime soon, so it is up to consumers and those working in the industry to be aware of what they are buying.
See more posts from Jane Marsh at environment.co
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