Towards a 'Forests Forward' market
As deforestation and forest degradation continue at an alarming rate and action on zero-deforestation and conversion lags behind, WWF today has launched Forests Forward, a new platform that engages companies, communities and organizations across sectors to accelerate positive change in critical landscapes.
“Companies and investors worldwide are in a unique position to enable innovative approaches that conserve and enhance the benefits of biodiversity-rich, productive forest landscapes, while meeting some of the biggest ecological challenges of our time: climate change, water and food security,” says Julia Young, Director, WWF Global Forest Sector Transformation. “As we look toward 2030, the need for global action on the climate crisis, poverty, nature loss and recovery, unsustainable production and over-consumption becomes more urgent - and addressing deforestation and forest degradation is key to all of these.”
Forests Forward will enable companies to set and act on forward-looking, innovative pathways to make and demonstrate positive impacts in forest landscapes, and investors to make a positive contribution to the global sustainability agenda. The platform includes an emphasis on communities and local forest management, calling for recognition of the critical role indigenous people and local communities play in forest conservation. It makes the case for tested, innovative approaches and better means of forest management verification in tropical countries to help spread sustainable forest management (SFM) for collective and individual smaller-scale forest users.
“We are at a critical juncture: more than ever, people understand how fundamental nature is to our lives and the importance of a sustainable future. Businesses and investors play a critical role in shaping this future,” says Fran Price, Lead, WWF Global Forest Practice. “Forests are also one of the most important nature-based solutions. To tackle runaway climate change and realize global climate targets, we need greater action on deforestation, degradation and forest restoration. Forests Forward offers a unique platform to increase collaboration among diverse stakeholders, and boost innovation and solutions-oriented approaches to ensure forests continue to provide benefits to people and climate.”
A recent report published by WWF found that more than 43 million hectares of forest were lost in just the tropics and sub-tropics over a 13-year period. At the same time, WWF's Living Planet report 2020 shows an alarming 68% decline, on average, in population sizes of mammals, birds, fish, amphibians, and reptiles, since 1970.
Forests Forward aims to accelerate action and harness the influence of all actors with stakes in forests to improve the management of a targeted 150 million hectares of forest by 2030.
“There are a number of opportunities for transformative change that are essential to safeguard forests,” Young says. “All actors in forest landscapes have an important role to play in embracing the full value of forests, not just for the timber they provide, but for the critical ecosystem services forests supply to billions of people, the economy and nature, including freshwater, food, a stable climate, biodiversity and improved local livelihoods.”
The first set of businesses signing up to Forests Forward include major market actors HP Inc., IKEA, International Paper Company, Kimberly-Clark, Lowe’s Companies, Inc., Mandarin Oriental, Sofidel Spa, and Williams-Sonoma, Inc., alongside companies operating in important forest producing countries - Bois et Scierie du Gabon (BSG), Gabon Wood Industry (GWI), Companie des Bois du Gabon, Gabonaise d’Exploitation de Bois (GEB), Interholco, The ALPI Group, The New Forests Company, The Navigator Company, Stora Enso Oyj., Suzano S/A and Veracel.
As participants in Forests Forward, companies commit to engaging in areas such as sustainable forest management and trade, better silviculture, reforestation and ecosystem restoration, biodiversity protection and recovery, tackling illegality throughout the timber supply chain, credible forest certification, fair, inclusive and equitable value chains and investments in key landscape and bankable nature projects. Participants’ scope of work can be followed on WWF’s global interactive spatial platform. Activities will be monitored and reported against clear outcomes and milestones.