February 07, 2012
Largescale clearing of Amazon rainforest for soy fields in Brazil. Photo by: Rhett A. Butler.
Eighty-seven global corporations disclosed their "forest footprint" in 2011, according to the third Forest Footprint Disclosure (FFD), which asks companies to report on their impact on forests based on their use of five commodities: soy, palm oil, timber and pulp, cattle, and biofuels. This is a 11 percent rise from the companies that reported in 2010, including the first reports by companies such as the Walt Disney Company, Tesco UK, and Johnson & Johnson. However a number of so-called "green" companies continue to refuse to disclose, including Patagonia, Stonyfield Farms, and Whole Foods Markets Inc.
"More and more, consumers want to know that the products they buy at the store are not doing harm to the planet," explains Barbara Bramble, international policy advisor with the U.S. National Wildlife Federation (NWF) which is seeking responses from U.S.-based companies. "In response, companies are seeking out ways to improve their supply chain sustainability and reduce their forest footprint."
Reporting isn't the sole purpose of the FFD. Once a company reports, the program works with them on lessening the forest impact. Every year, the report acknowledges sector leaders (see below) who have done the most to mitigate their impact on the world's forests.
The new report also shows who didn't disclose. One sector in particular—oil and gas—has refused to participate. Major producers like BP, Chevron, Exxon Mobil, Conoco Phillips, Royal Dutch Shell, Total, Valero Energy, and Petrobas failed to analyze and disclose their forest footprint.
In all, FFD approached 357 global companies to voluntarily analyze their forest impact, but just less than a quarter of them took up the challenge. Other companies that have failed to disclose include Starbucks, McDonalds, Target, Time Warner, Cargill, APRIL, Del Monte, Coca-Cola, Amazon, Office Max, and General Mills.
"The time to act is now: there is a commercial imperative and the risks to the world’s forests are too great to wait. More companies need to wake up to the risks deforestation presents in their portfolios. Who wants to finance the destruction of life on earth, especially when it undermines wealth creation itself?" said FFD Chairman, Andrew Mitchell, in a press release.
The world's forests provided a number of vital ecosystem services including harboring a majority of the world's biodiversity, safeguarding important watersheds, storing carbon, harboring important (and undiscovered) medicines, influencing local and regional weather, controlling flooding and erosion, and providing homes to a number of indigenous tribes worldwide.
Sector leaders for 2011 in the FFD report include Stora Enso Oyj (Basic Materials), Nike Inc. (Clothing Accessories and Footwear), J. Sainsbury plc (Food and Drug Retaliers), Nestlé SA and Unilever (Food Products and Soft Drinks), Marks and Spencer (General Retailers), Dalhoff Larsen & Horneman (Industrials, Construction & Autos), Kimberly-Clark Co. (Personal Care and Household Goods), British Airways (Travel and Leisure), Grupo André Maggi (Farming and Fishing), Reed Elsevier (Media), Greenergy International Ltd. (Oil and Gas), and Drax Group (Utilities).
New meteorological theory argues that the world's forests are rainmakers
(02/01/2012) New, radical theories in science often take time to be accepted, especially those that directly challenge longstanding ideas, contemporary policy or cultural norms. The fact that the Earth revolves around the sun, and not vice-versa, took centuries to gain widespread scientific and public acceptance. While Darwin's theory of evolution was quickly grasped by biologists, portions of the public today, especially in places like the U.S., still disbelieve. Currently, the near total consensus by climatologists that human activities are warming the Earth continues to be challenged by outsiders. Whether or not the biotic pump theory will one day fall into this grouping remains to be seen. First published in 2007 by two Russian physicists, Victor Gorshkov and Anastassia Makarieva, the still little-known biotic pump theory postulates that forests are the driving force behind precipitation over land masses.
Emissions from palm oil biodiesel highest of major biofuels, says EU
(01/30/2012) Greenhouse gas emissions from palm oil-based biodiesel are the highest among major biofuels when the effects of deforestation and peatlands degradation are considered, according to calculations by the European Commission. The emissions estimates, which haven't been officially released, have important implications for the biofuels industry in Europe.
Palm oil does not meet U.S. renewable fuels standard, rules EPA
(01/27/2012) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) ruled on Friday that palm oil-based biofuels will not meet the renewable fuels standard due to carbon emissions associated with deforestation.