April 1997 FO: ACPWP 97/7



Rome, 23 - 25 April 1997


Example from a developed country - USA


The close of 1994 marked the end of one era in forestry and the start of another when members of the American Forest & Paper Association (AF&PA) adopted the principles and guidelines of the Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI ). Through the SFI, AF&PA members have established a major industry goal: to enhance the environment by visibly changing the practice of forestry on industrial forestland, especially as it pertains to water quality, wildlife and biodiversity. Equally important, AF&PA members are engaging loggers and private woodland owners in an ongoing dialogue to encourage reforestation, to use environmental Best Management Practices, and to improve the appearance of harvesting operations.

Today - two years later - AF&PA members are on their way toward meeting the goal of sustainable forestry. Through the collection and analysis of reports from individual companies, AF&PA compiled data on environmental performance across the industry. This information - available for the first time in 1996 - is being used to identify trends in the practice of sustainable forestry. The data cover a variety of topics ranging from harvesting practices to wildlife habitat diversity on more than 52 million acres members own or control. An independent panel of experts, who recently reviewed the second annual sustainable forestry progress report, noted the significant positive change underway in America's forests being fostered by the SFI.


AF&PA is about to issue the second Annual Progress Report. For the first time it has been possible to compare data and the results are quite positive:

  • The number of loggers trained more than doubled - from 3 300 to 7 800.

  • Trained loggers delivered over 60 percent of the raw material used to make paper and wood products, compared to 34 percent in 1995.

  • The number of non-industrial private foresters receiving information on sustainable forestry grew from 35 300 in 1995 to over 40 000 in 1996.

  • Member companies spent US$61.9 million on research related to forestry, wildlife and the environment ­ a 17.6 percent increase over the 1995 figure.

  • The average size of clearcuts declined from 66 acres in 1995 to 61 acres in 1996.

  • Total acres reforested in 1996 equalled 1.2 million. This was about the same level as 1995, so a trend is not yet seen.

This is the first time this type of data have been collected in the US. More information will enable AF&PA to continually improve its programme and measure the progress.

Market Pressures

Public expectations regarding the management of US forests has grown dramatically. A more educated and aware public now demands that industry be better stewards of the forest resource. Forest management is no longer simply cutting trees - rather, it is essential to manage for multiple societal values such as wildlife, biodiversity, aesthetics, and water quality protection. In other words, the power of the American public to withdraw AF&PA's social license to continue managing forests is not underestimated. Therefore, their demands must be met.

Growing consumer awareness is now impacting the market. A growing number of contractors, architects and retailers are looking for supplies of "sustainably produced" forest products. Government procurement policies are written to favour "environmentally preferable" products. The intergovernmental dialogue is focusing on "market based incentives" to encourage sustainable forest management. Not only is caring for the environment the right thing to do, there is mounting pressure by government and businesses to address the issue.

Through the SFI, AF&PA is working to respond to public concerns, and the response has been positive. However, the global market place will demand that other producers take similar steps as well. If the American public demands accountability and responsibility from its own industry, foreign suppliers will face similar pressures.

International Cooperation

As industry is globally changing, new and better ways of cooperation are continuously being sought even though there is the need sometimes to operate under very different cultural, political and social systems - this means that all concerned can't and shouldn't approach sustainability in the same way. Although the destination is a common one, the paths to take to get there will necessarily be different.

The forest products industry has now participated in three meetings of the International Forestry Roundtable process. Last year in Chile, ten countries met to discuss industry's vision and principles of sustainable forestry. Just as the chemical industry globally came to agreement on a set of environment and health and safety standards through the Responsible Care programme, the forest products industry also needs to agree on the basic vision and principle behind sustainable forestry. AF&PA will continue to work with its counterparts globally to ensure this happens.

List of Documents

FAO Home