WWF response to Global Witness report

Posted on July, 26 2011

For 20 years, the Global Forest & Trade Network (GFTN) has worked successfully to create a global marketplace for sustainably sourced forest products. The programme now includes approximately 300 companies, communities, NGOs in more than 30 countries around the world.
In response Global Witness’ report Pandering to the Loggers released on Monday 25 July, WWF issues the following statement:

For 20 years, the Global Forest & Trade Network (GFTN) has worked successfully to create a global marketplace for sustainably sourced forest products. The programme now includes approximately 300 companies, communities, NGOs in more than 30 countries around the world.

GFTN believes in providing practical solutions that allow companies to develop and implement region-specific strategies that promote responsible forestry and trade, combat illegal logging and protect some of planet’s most valuable resources.

Examples of GFTN’s major achievements include:

  • GFTN has been instrumental in the creation of markets for credibly certified forest products. Since its inception, GFTN has been a mechanism to promote and develop markets for forest certification, especially through the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC). All GFTN participants are required to set and meet targets concerning credible certification. Today more than 50 per cent of the global market for FSC material is traded by GFTN participants, and many non-GFTN participants have been driven to adopting chain of custody or to certifying their forests as a result of the commitments made by GFTN participants. GFTN’s practical approach has enabled the industry to be part of the solution to unsustainable deforestation and forest degradation.
  • GFTN’s stepwise approach to responsible purchasing of forest products has become an industry standard. GFTN formalized the stepwise approach to responsible sourcing of forest products in 2003. Today this system is used not only by participants, but has become an industry benchmark. Through a series of steps, members can work through the levels of verification they need to indicate to themselves (and to GFTN) that they are making progress across the spectrum of sources they use. The approach has been instrumental in increasing demand for certified and legally verified products, and huge increases in the transparency of supply chains. The process has demonstrated that market demand can both drive certification and improve general performance.
  • GFTN strategy for forest certification. GFTN pioneered a strategy in 2005 that has enabled the certification of tropical forests. Since then, work with committed companies and managers operating in a tough environment has paid off with the certification of forests in many countries where previously there had been no certified forestry operations. This approach has been core to GFTN’s work in producer countries, and since 2007, GFTN participants have been able to achieve FSC certification in over 20 million hectares of forest.
  • GFTN has played a key role in promoting transparency in supply chains with respect to legality of forestry and trade. GFTN’s 2006 Keep It Legal and 2009 Exporting in a Shifting Legal Landscape guides provided essential informationregarding existing forest laws in major producer countries, and showed buyers how to assess the level of compliance in their supply chains. GFTN’s guidance is also used by producers to assess the level of compliance within their own supply chains and how to demonstrate this to their customers.

“We believe the private sector can be a significant positive force to save the world’s most valuable and threatened forests,” says George White, Head of GFTN. “By mainstreaming responsible forestry practices among the forest-related sector, GFTN creates market conditions that help conserve the world's forests, while providing social and economic benefits for the businesses and people that depend on them.”

“Of course, some GFTN partners have a way to go on their journey to sustainability. But these are precisely the companies that should be in GFTN, and we applaud their commitments to improving their environmental performance. Companies caught flouting the rules and spirit of GFTN will be removed from the network,” says White.

For further information:
Chris Chaplin, Media Officer, WWF International, +65 9826 3802, cchaplin@wwf.sg 
Kayan Mentarang National Park, East Kalimantan (K. Timur), Kalimantan (Indonesian Borneo), Indonesia
© Alain Compost / WWF