Papermaking consumes an estimated 200 million tons of wood fiber a year. And despite predictions of a brave new paperless world, paper use continues to rise. Many of the trees harvested to meet this increased demand still come from North America, though pulp and paper companies are increasingly tapping resources in tropical countries, putting enormous pressure on remaining natural forests and on their biodiversity. While most forest and paper companies are eager to implement sound conservation practices, the scientific information and tools needed are not always available, consistent or understood.
Conservation International has formed the Forest & Biodiversity Conservation Alliance with Office Depot, the worlds leading reseller of paper, along with The Nature Conservancy and NatureServe, two leading conservation organizations. Through this unique collaboration with the private sector, the participating organizations are applying their complementary strengths, geographic presence and scientific expertise to demonstrate that conserving biodiversity and meeting consumer demands for paper products do not have to be mutually exclusive.
The Alliance is implementing a five-year, $2.2 million strategy to develop the information, standards and tools needed to reduce the environmental footprint of Office Depot's forest and paper product suppliers and contribute to biodiversity conservation in the temperate, tropical and boreal forest regions of the world.
Projects undertaken by the participating organizations will initially fall into four priority areas:
- Developing Scientific Information to Improve Forest Management: The Alliance will develop data to help foresters identify and manage hundreds of imperiled and at-risk forest species and natural communities. Funding will also help improve information systems to manage data about these species and ecosystems.
- Refining and Applying Science-based Methods for Conserving Biodiversity: This includes methods to effectively prioritize forest lands for biological inventory, and to identify and conserve key biodiversity areas within forest landscapes. Target landscapes are expected to include the boreal forests of Canada and the Atlantic Forest region of Brazil.
- Enhancing Environmental Procurement Practices: This includes methods and tools to incorporate conservation criteria into domestic and international sourcing decisions as well as vendor compliance processes.
- Training Forest Managers and Scientists: This includes regional workshops to train interested foresters, conservation professionals and landowners in the use of these data, methods and tools.
- Developing purchasing tools to help paper merchants source environmentally preferable papers
- Drafting a supplier Code of Conduct for wood and fiber sourcing.
- Helping Office Depot to test and validate supplier sustainability
- Committing $2.2 million in funding over five years to support Alliance activities
- Leveraging the expertise of Alliance members to create an industry-leading Environmental Paper Procurement Policy & Vision Statement
- Leveraging the resources of Alliance members’ work with merchants to “buy greener” papers
- Enabling Office Depot to win in the marketplace by “selling green”
- Helping map Office Depot’s North American forest footprint
- Gathering scientific data on imperiled plants and animals in North America
- Training land owners and foresters to properly manage their land and protect rare plant and animal species
The Nature Conservancy:
- Developing conservation priorities and creating incentives to improve forest conditions in the Canadian boreal forest and temperate forests of the southeastern United States
- Developing tools to assess High Conservation Value Forests and help set priorities for conservation activities
Forest & Biodiversity Conservation Alliance Launched: CI, Office Depot, The Nature Conservancy and NatureServe officially launch their the FBCA alliance in March 2004. The Alliance, and the integration of its objectives within Office Depot's Environmental Paper Procurement Policy, is the product of more than 10 months of collaboration, during which time the conservation science organizations worked with Office Depot to: 1) Identify the challenges to forest and biodiversity conservation faced by landowners, managers and Office Depot's own sourcing and vendor compliance personnel; and 2) Develop projects that would address these challenges, while facilitating the implementation of Office Depot's policies on Rare & Vulnerable Forests and Forests Containing Exceptional Biodiversity Values.