Ian Cheshire, Group Chief Executive of Kingfisher plc, has called for an annual round of government-level talks to achieve zero net deforestation by 2020. He said that the talks should bring together the world’s Environment Ministers to establish a roadmap for international cooperation and to secure the future of the world’s forests.
Delivering the keynote address at the Forest Stewardship Council’s (FSC) General Assembly, Mr Cheshire said:
“13 million hectares of forest are lost each year; a global challenge persistently highlighted by NGOs such as the FSC and others. Forest loss is not just an environmental issue; pressure on the availability of timber supplies over the next 5-10 years will present one of businesses’ biggest supply chain challenges. I am therefore calling for an annual round of forestry talks, bringing together the world’s Environment Ministers, to work towards the goal of zero net deforestation by 2020. Many people have assumed that this issue was solved by work on REDD and Copenhagen, but no concrete action has yet happened. Talk is not enough.”
“Deforestation is of significance for Kingfisher because timber is the raw material in many of the home improvement products sold across the Group. I believe that a coordinated international effort between countries, industry, and society is needed. It will be for the world’s governments to take the lead and put in place a roadmap for international cooperation, securing the future of the world’s forests, their biodiversity and security of supply for consumers.”
Kingfisher operates 860 stores under brands such as B&Q and Castorama. At B&Q UK over 16,000 products contain wood, either as whole timber or as a constituent part, and it was a founding partner of the FSC in the early 1990s.
After a campaign that spans over 20 years, when B&Q UK became a founding partner of the FSC (Forest Stewardship Council), B&Q UK announced in February 2011 that it was the first major UK retailer to achieve its goal of only buying timber products from proven responsible sources. The UK’s largest home improvement retailer can now guarantee that this applies to 100 per cent of timber in its products.
B&Q UK’s Forest Friendly campaign continues to raise awareness of the need for consumers to demand that their timber products come from well managed sources and now its customers can shop in the knowledge that B&Q UK only buys products that conform to this.
Across the whole of Kingfisher this figure was 81% in 2010/11, exceeding the Group’s target to source 75% of timber volume, from proven well managed forests or recycled sources across all of its European and Other International operations.
The volume of timber acquired by the Group from FSC sources has progressively increased over the last four years, up from 45% in 2007/08 to 55% in 2010/11. At Group level Kingfisher has also been instrumental in establishing the Timber Retail Consortium (TRC), alongside other major retailers. The TRC aims to support EU legislation to curb illegally harvested timber.
This call to action is also supported by The Prince’s Charities International Sustainability Unit, under the guidance of His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales; the University of Cambridge Programme for Sustainability Leadership (CPSL); the Rainforest Alliance; and the FSC.
Andre de Freitas, Director General of the Forest Stewardship Council, said:
“The Forest Stewardship Council supports Kingfisher’s ‘Call to Action’ to mobilise global leaders, align efforts to protect the world’s forests and ensure essential environmental and social forest functions for the future. FSC will work with Kingfisher and other FSC Members to increase its contribution to responsible forest management worldwide and the wider objective of halting forestry loss.”
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Notes to editors:
Polly Courtice, Director, University of Cambridge Programme for Sustainability Leadership (CPSL), and Co-Director, Corporate Leaders Group on Climate Change (CLG), said:
“Cambridge’s collaborative work with business leaders on natural capital confirms the imperative of valuing ecosystem services which underpin the global economy. B&Q UK's achievement in reaching 100% sustainably-sourced timber by February 2011 is a powerful example of the value of setting visionary targets to engage staff and raise the bar for a whole sector. We welcome Kingfisher’s leadership in this area and further applaud its call for a coordinated political effort to achieve transformative change on deforestation at a global level.”
Richard Donovan, Senior Vice President & Vice President of Forestry at Rainforest Alliance, said:
“The Kingfisher Group’s efforts over the past 20 years speak for themselves – from B&Q’s initial entree in support of FSC’s founding back in the early 1990’s, to their current actions in response to the EU Timber Regulation, they are continuing to improve the sustainability of their supply chains. They have been and remain a global leader in this field. Their work demonstrates both the time it takes to address the complex issues associated with forest products trade around the globe, as well as the continued, focused effort, incorporating supply from both large scale forest operations as well as FSC-certified community and indigenous operations.”
In a speech on 9th February 2011 to the Low Carbon Prosperity Summit at the European Parliament, Brussels, HRH The Prince of Wales said:
“Stopping deforestation is not a lifestyle choice, it is an absolutely critical part of any low carbon growth plan. If we fail to address this problem, despite everything else we might do, there is no answer to climate change.”
Background/Existing International Agreements
Campaigns and initiatives aimed at helping to tackle deforestation include:
• The recognition that deforestation must be focused on was one of the only firm outcomes of COP 16 in Copenhagen.
• 81 countries have engaged with FSC certification for forest management.
• 67 countries have pledged support for WWF’s call for Zero Net Deforestation.
• 50 countries have agreed to engage in reducing greenhouse gas emissions from deforestation – Oslo 2010.
• The Consumer Goods Forum pledged to mobilise its collective resources to help achieve zero net deforestation by 2020 at the Cancun Climate Summit in November 2010.
However, recent figures show that deforestation rates are not slowing down and reforestation efforts are not catching-up, particularly when it comes to Biodiversity and species loss.
Aside from the United Nations Collaborative Programme on Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation in Developing Countries (UN-REDD), forestry fell off the agenda in Cancun and little progress is likely in Durban.
An active campaign by The Prince’s Rainforest Project resulted in global governments pledging $4.5billion to support measures to reduce deforestation in developing countries, but it has yet to be spent.
Zero net deforestation:
The call for no 'net' forest loss is defined as no decrease in the amount of forested land in hectares. Wherever deforestation does occur it will be mitigated with forest regeneration or creation and the balance of biodiversity carefully safe-guarded.