Cover photo credit to JLS photography, Flickr (CC-BY-NC–ND 2.0).
The boreal, the largest remaining intact forest in the world, is under attack. The boreal, a wild and seemingly endless forest that wraps around Northern Hemisphere, is under threat. The boreal in Canada is covered with spruce and firs and pines. It supports threatened caribou herds, endangered grizzly bears, and billions of birds. It provides drinking water to millions and absorbs enough carbon dioxide for the offset of greenhouse gas emissions. 24 million passenger vehicles. It is one of the most natural climate solutions.
For decades, the Canadian boreal forests have provided high quality lumber, wood pulp, or other forest-derived products around the world. One million acres of the boreal forests are actually being cut every year. This is roughly one-and-a-half football fields per minute. Now, however, there is a Global consensusCompanies that source wood products in the boreal have an opportunity for protection, as they are educating the public about the critical importance of protecting primary forest ecosystems for our climate and biodiversity.
Logging operation in the boreal forests. Photo credit: River Jordan (NRDC).
Unfortunately, boreal releases are prone to degradation at an average rate of 26 Million metric tonnesEvery year, there are approximately 1.2 million tons of carbon dioxide. According to some, planting new trees can offset the effects of logging. Forests can be replanted if they are cut down and replanted for more than 10 yearsThey often They emit more carbon than they capture. Some species, such the woodland caribou are not able to live in disturbed boreal forests even after newly-planted trees have been established. Currently, disturbances to the boreal forest are threatening More than halfOne of the most iconic woodland caribou herds. cornerstoneMany Indigenous tribes cultures, histories, and traditions.
The destruction of the boreal forest is as alarming as it is. However, there is hope. There are many innovations in the market for paper and wood products that could reduce logging. Alternative materials and resources are becoming more readily available that can be used for manufacturing items normally made from wood, such as paper goods made out of recycled paper, bamboo, hemp, and furniture made out of reclaimed and refurbished timber.
However, we will continue using freshly harvested lumber until better systems are in place for recycling wood products. It is vital that lumber sold by home improvement retailers such as Lowes and Menards has been responsibly harvested in order to protect the boreal forest ecosystems and species.
A third-party organization can confer certifications to verify that wood products have been responsibly produced. Some certification schemes, like the Sustainable Forestry Initiative, are too restrictive and don’t provide adequate protection for forest ecosystems. According to environmental activistsWood products certified by SFI should not be purchased from organizations such as the Rainforest Action Network or the Natural Resources Defense Council. The Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification, (PEFC) is another common certification system that should be avoided. It is an umbrella organization that accepts the SFI standards.
The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC)The most reliable third-party certification program. The World Wildlife Fund and National Wildlife Federation are two examples of environmental organizations that have certified their work. endorsed FSC. FSC logo wood products are harvested after certifications 10 guiding principlesThese principles include the preservation and protection of the forests ecosystem, the protection and maintenance of biodiversity, and the well-being of local communities. These principles require that companies only develop Indigenous territory if they are given permission. Free, informed, prior consentThis is a requirement for forest-dependent and Indigenous communities. It ensures that those most likely be directly affected by logging activity are included in decisions about what happens to their land.
Caribou. Photo credit: Bering Land Bridge National Preserve. CC BY 2.0
The Home Depot is the The largest home improvement retailer in the worldWith over 2,300 stores across North America. The Home Depot does, however, not disclose the percentage of wood it uses that is FSC-certified. ClaimFSC certified wood is sold by The Home Depot more than any other American retailer. The Home Depot has yet to disclose its wood sourcing and track it better. This will make our forests less safe. LowesHowever, a third-party system tracks and discloses a large portion of its wood sourcing information: CDP forests. It is time for The Home Depot too to follow their lead. The Home Depot can lead the industry in protecting our climate and threatened species as well as the communities that depend on our forests.
Photo Credit: Mike Mozart, CC BY 2.0