Do you know where your tissue comes from?

Your toilet paper very likely contains wood fibre from the Baltic States and Russia, where unlawful and destructive harvesting practices cause big problems...

In Europe, production of pulp - the key tissue ingredient - relies to a significant extent on timber from Russia and the Baltic states. Major tissue and paper producing countries, like Sweden and Finland for instance, are major buyers of pulp from these countries.

In Russia and the Baltic states, unlawful harvesting and other criminal forest activities are causing huge losses to biodiversity, as well as to economy and society. The scale of illegal logging is dramatic, e.g. almost one-third of timber logged in the north-west of Russia and 50% of timber logged in Estonia is illegal.

Russia loses approximately $US1 billion per year to illegal logging and trade, which in turn restricts money available for good harvesting practices, local communities and development. Bad practices put wildlife in Russia's Boreal forests - such as the capercaillie, white-backed woodpecker, Amur tiger and Far Eastern leopard - at high risk.

The problem of illegal logging in the newest EU and candidate countries is still largely unrecognized, and yet uncontrolled and illegal harvesting damages both nature and local communities.
Don't flush our forests and wildlife down the toilet / ©: Kurt Prinz
Don't flush our forests and wildlife down the toilet
© Kurt Prinz
Your facial tissue may have come from fast-growing Eucalyptus plantations, which often replace untouched forests and so destroy key habitats for orang-utans and displace native peoples...
 
Europe imports a significant part of its wood pulp from Brazil, Chile, Indonesia and South Africa, where fastwood plantations are a major source of wood for the pulp and paper industry. Problems related to plantation management exist in these countries that threaten key habitats and displace native peoples.

In Indonesia, for example, many of the forest fires in 1998/99 were deliberately lit to destroy native forests and make way for plantations to generate pulp. Fast growing Eucalyptus plantations continue to replace some of the most diverse ecosystems and natural forests.

The dramatic decline of orang-utan populations in South-East Asia is in part due to the destruction of their habitat through forest conversion to plantations and through illegal logging. Nearly 80% per cent of trees in Indonesia are cut illegally, for example.

Some companies have established plantations on land which has been taken by force from indigenous communities, or purchased at prices far below their value.  

Plantations
 can be a good and important source of wood, but they need to be well managed and must not be established at the expense of local and indigenous communities, and by converting irreplaceable rainforests into fast growing tree crops.
Your paper towel may have come from an unsustainable, clear cut forest...
 
Unsustainable logging of high conservation value forests, such as those in Canada, Sweden, Finland and Russia, for pulp production is a major concern in boreal regions. In addition to clearcuts, another major concern in boreal regions is the protection of high conservation value forests. Valuable forests are destroyed as a consequence of irresponsible practices, resulting in a shortage of habitat for grizzly bears, puma and grey wolfs in Canada, and habitats of hundreds of forest-dwelling species in Finland, Sweden and Russia.

In Sweden, 2000 forest-dwelling species have been listed as threatened. In Finland, 700 forest species are classified as endangered as a result of forestry practices that did not show proper care for life in the forest.
 / ©: George White
Responsibly produced tissue products with FSC logo
© George White

Timber harvesting can be done responsibly and need not threaten life in the forest.


WWF is encouraging the five major tissue production companies supplying the European market to set an example in the industry, and commit to responsible forest management.

More on WWF's pulp and paper work...

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