Timber Giant Leads Loggers Toward Sustainability

Joel Stonington Utne.com
September 2003
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After three years of pressure from environmental groups led by the Rainforest Action Network (RAN), Boise Cascade has announced it will no longer sell wood and paper products from endangered forests, extend this policy to its suppliers, and apply it domestically and internationally. The decision by Boise is being hailed by RAN as the most significant breakthrough in private sector forest protection since The Home Depot's 1999 resolution to refuse selling wood from endangered forests. Boise will stop using timber from old-growth forests in the U.S. by the end of the year and will stop buying wood from endangered forests internationally, in places such as Canada, Chile, and Indonesia.

The three-year campaign by the large coalition of environmental groups included hundreds of demonstrations, petitions for customers to drop Boise contracts, and significant counter-action by Boise, such as writing letters to RAN's funders asking them to stop funding the nonprofit.

'The only question is when the rest of the industry will follow,' said RAN's old growth campaign manager, Jennifer Krill. Thus, following the announcement by Boise Cascade, RAN challenged Boise's competitors to 'get out of old growth or go out of business.' The letters went to what RAN calls, 'the 12 most environmentally destructive U.S. forest products companies': Bowater, Georgia-Pacific, International Paper, Louisiana-Pacific, MeadWestvaco, Plum Creek Timber, Potlatch, Rayonier, Sierra Pacific Industries, Sweetheart Holdings, Universal Forest Products, and Weyerhaeuser. These companies cut, import, and distribute old growth and endangered forest products, and are the leading manufacturers of virgin tree paper. 'Boise has shown what a real initiative for healthy forests looks like,' said Krill. 'Boise's commitment demonstrates that industrial evolution is possible. It should serve as a wake up call to loggers: evolve or go extinct.'

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