"Sticky" issues

As a world leader in conservation, WWF tackles the toughest issues facing people and our planet today. We know these issues have serious consequences for both the survival of species and for people’s livelihoods and well-being. So we take our positions with great care.
Parson's chameleon (Chamaeleo parsonii), Madagascar; Male using sticky tongue to catch insects.
© Martin Harvey / WWF
Using the best science available as our guide, we aim to build a future in which people live in harmony with nature. This means both protecting and using natural resources so they will be around for many generations to come. When it comes to forests – the very lungs of our planet – there are many competing demands.

But WWF believes – and our decades of experience prove – that there are ways to create win-win situations for people and nature. Let’s take a closer look at some of the “sticky” issues in forest conservation, and how WWF is creating real solutions.

Forest Certification 

Why is it sticky?

Most people agree there should be standards for environmentally and socially responsible logging and a process to certify that forest products meet those standards.

But some businesses claim standards are too restrictive and limit their ability to be competitive.

On the other hand, some conservation groups worry standards are too lenient and open forests to unsustainable exploitation.

What’s WWF’s solution?

We support what is currently the most credible certification system to ensure environmentally responsible, socially beneficial and economically viable management of forests, the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC). Learn more.

Industrial Logging in Tropical Forests

Why is it sticky?

For many, this is the granddaddy of all conservation controversies.

How could anyone claiming to be an environmentalist condone cutting down trees in our most spectacular forests? These places not only house magnificent wildlife, they make our planet habitable by soaking up and storing the carbon we emit.

Yet they are also a valuable commodity – one that people around the world are clamoring for – and nations that are striving to overcome poverty need to use every resource they can.

What’s WWF’s solution?

WWF supports landscape “mosaics” in which the most biodiverse areas are set aside for conservation, while other areas are logged under specific conditions. Learn more.

Certifying Palm Oil

Why is it sticky?

Global production of palm oil has doubled over the last decade and is expected to increase by another 50% by 2020. It is used in about half of all packaged food products in supermarkets today, and it has potential as a biofuel.

Thus far, the growth in palm oil has come at the expense of tropical forests – the world’s most species-rich habitats. Some green groups say certification sounds good, but doesn’t work in practice, while some companies say it could work, but would be too expensive.

What is WWF’s solution?

WWF has been at the forefront of the sustainable palm oil movement, and we’re gaining ground. Through the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil, we work with industry and conservation partners to ensure that producers know how to tread lightly on the planet and consumers understand the power of their choices in the marketplace. Learn more.

Certifying Soy Production

Why is it sticky?

One of the primary uses for this plant is feed for cattle, which in turn become food for people. When forests are converted to farmland, two things happen: the direct destruction of habitat and the long-term, on-going build up of roads, railways and cities in once-pristine savanna or forest landscapes.

As with our other work on certification, WWF’s participation in the Roundtable on Responsible Soy draws fire.

Our colleagues in conservation are particularly concerned about the impact of genetically modified soy, while some free-market groups say the certification process hurts profitability.

What is WWF’s solution?

We know that soy can be grown in a sustainable way, and we support efforts of responsible producers to do just that. We also know that current human consumption habits have to change, so we advocate  responsible choices at the market. Learn more.


Why is it sticky?

Some companies have put profit before the planet and destroyed valuable forest habitats in order to expand their plantations – in many cases with full government support. Some have also trampled the rights of forest communities and workers.

Well-managed and rightly located plantations can lessen the pressure to harvest the world’s remaining natural forests by providing fibre for timber, paper and fuel wood. But plantations should not replace natural forests or other important ecosystems, and must respect the rights and interests of local communities.

What is WWF’s solution?

WWF created the New Generation Plantations platform to foster better plantations. Specifically, WWF aims to achieve a consensus among leading forest companies and governments that forest plantations should contribute positively to the welfare of local communities and not replace natural ecosystems. Learn more.


Why is it sticky?

Bioenergy has huge potential to help people shift away from fossil fuels. But the land and water required to grow biofuel crops could actually come at the expense of forest ecosystems.

What is
WWF’s solution?

WWF helps policymakers understand the science, opportunities and consequences of various kinds of renewable energy.

In keeping with our mission to create harmony between people and nature, we advocate improved efficiency and reduced energy consumption, along with bioenergy production that is environmentally, socially and economically sustainable. Learn more.
	© Jacob Sterling / WWF-Denmark
FSC-certified logs. Pokola, Republic of the Congo.
© Jacob Sterling / WWF-Denmark
	© WWF / Richard Stonehouse
Palm Oil Contained In Everyday Products A mother reading an ingredients label looking to buy Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) approved breaded fish that is also made with sustainably produces palm oil.
© WWF / Richard Stonehouse
	© Brent Stirton / Getty Images / WWF-UK
Women on a plantain plantation, Mambele, Cameroon, are members of WWF-supported Women's Heath and Conservation Society. WWF helps the women find sustainable sources of income and to sell their goods for a fair price.
© Brent Stirton / Getty Images / WWF-UK

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