July 24, 2018

Innovative Partnerships Delivering Forest Sustainability

Forests and forest resources play a vital role in the world’s ecosystems and the global economy. To sustain these resources for future generations, it is essential that government, industry, and civil society work in tandem toward innovative conservation solutions. On July 24th, ICCF convened a panel of experts on Capitol Hill to discuss how these types of innovative partnerships can help sustain forest resources.

Although great strides have been made in the recovery of the world’s forests, many are still threatened. As much as 50 percent of the world’s forests are still at risk says WWF Vice-President for Forests, Kerry Cesareo. Some of the greatest threats, she says, include expanding food production, expanding infrastructure, and unsustainable and illegal logging. To understand with more certainty the quantity and quality of forestlands needed for the planet to thrive, WWF has partnered with International Paper on a new research initiative that will help create the world’s first regional and global science-based targets for forests.

Ms. Cesareo was one of four panelists speaking at the July 24th Congressional briefing, joined by Eric Schwaab, Vice President of Conservation Programs for the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF), Donna Harman, President & CEO of American Forest & Paper Association (AF&PA), and Tom Cleves, Vice President of Global Citizenship for International Paper (IP). Sophie Beckham, the Global Forest Stewardship and Sustainability Manager for International Paper, gave opening remarks, discussing how IP depends on the sustainability of the world’s forests and how they are utilizing partnerships and collaborations to achieve their goals for responsible forest management.

International Paper has a “self-interest to ensure sustainable forests in the U.S. and around the world,” says Tom Cleves. Throughout his 30-year career at IP, he says, the industry’s approach to sustainability has shifted, especially to recycling. IP is working closely with partners to “close the loop,” aiming to recycle as many of its products as possible.

Beyond recycling, International Paper is making a significant investment in forest conservation efforts. NFWF’s Eric Schwaab helped to outline one such investment, the Forestland Stewards program, a partnership between IP and NFWF to conserve, enhance, and restore forestlands by partnering with landowners, government agencies, and other conservation groups across the United States. That partnership, a science-based conservation grant program, he says, is expanding, with new investments aimed at building local conservation capacity in the southeastern U.S.

Partnerships like the Forestland Stewards program, Schwaab says, can be a “rallying point” for other partners, in government and the private sector alike, to join in on efforts to achieve global forest sustainability.

Collaboration with others in the industry is essential, AF&PA’s Donna Harman underscored, crediting partnerships for the industry’s success in having already met a number of the association’s 2020 sustainability goals.

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