News  |  13.07.2021

"Forests Forward" : WWF's new platform

This tool engages companies, investors and other stakeholders to accelerate the implementation of global sustainability commitments. 19 companies and investors across sectors, ranging from major market actors alongside companies operating in important forest producing countries, are the first leading participants in WWF’s new multi-stakeholder impact platform designed to address deforestation and forest degradation in landscapes around the world. A guide is available here. In addition, WWF proposes to organize a webinar for ATIBT members to help them get started with this new tool.

"Forests Forward" : WWF's new platform

Global demand for land, energy, and wood products is increasing while deforestation and forest degradation continue at an alarming rate. Meeting this growing demand while keeping forests intact requires bold solutions. Companies and investors worldwide are in a unique position to enable innovative approaches that conserve and enhance the benefits of biodiversity-rich, productive forest landscapes while meeting some of the biggest challenges of our time: climate change, water and food security and sustainable livelihoods.

WWF’s new "Forests Forward" platform aims to improve the management of 150 million hectares of forest by 2030, providing opportunities to create meaningful impact in landscapes and facilitating reporting on these impacts. It has a strong emphasis on  indigenous people and local communities, which play a critical role in forest conservation with local models of governance that can help protect forests, often better than many other forms of forest stewardship.

Participants in "Forests Forward" can engage in areas such as sustainable forest and plantations management, responsible timber trade, better silviculture, reforestation and ecosystem restoration, biodiversity protection and recovery, tackling illegality throughout the timber supply chain, credible forest certification, fair, inclusive and equitable value chains and investments in key landscapes. The programme is also developing a pipeline of land-use projects as part of WWF Bankable Nature Solutions. Through technical assistance to the origination and structuring of projects, participating companies in Forests Forward with a stake in plantations will implement the New Generation Plantations concept to conserve biodiversity and meet human needs, while contributing to sustainable economic growth and local livelihoods.

Julia Young, Global Lead for Forest Sector Transformation at WWF International says : “All actors with stakes in forests have an important role to play in embracing the full value of forests, not just for the timber they provide, but for the critical resources and services they supply to billions of people, the economy and nature. Forests Forward offers opportunities for transformative change, enabling companies to set and act on forward-looking, innovative pathways that make tangible impacts in forest landscapes, communities to benefit from the right incentives and approaches to sustainable forest management, and investors to make concrete, positive contributions to the global sustainability agenda. We welcome the first leading participants and look forward to engaging all stakeholders to improve the management of a targeted 150 million hectares of forests, as well as undertaking a rich diversity of actions to secure wider forest benefits for people and nature.”

Fran Price, WWF Global Forest Practice Lead says: “We are at a critical juncture: more than ever, people understand how fundamental nature is to our lives and the importance of sustainable future. Businesses and investors play a critical role in shaping this future. Forests are also one of the most important nature-based solutions. To tackle runaway climate change and realize global climate targets, we need greater action on deforestation, degradation and forest restoration. Forests Forward offers a unique platform to increase collaboration among diverse stakeholders, and boost innovation and solutions-oriented approaches to ensure forests continue to provide benefits to people and climate.”   

The first set of businesses signing up to "Forests Forward" include major market actors HP Inc., IKEA, International Paper Company, Kimberly-Clark, Lowe’s Companies, Inc., Mandarin Oriental, Sofidel Spa, and Williams-Sonoma, Inc., alongside companies operating in important forest producing countries - Bois et Scierie du Gabon (BSG), Gabon Wood Industry (GWI), Companie des Bois du Gabon, Gabonaise d’Exploitation de Bois (GEB), Interholco, The ALPI Group, The New Forests Company, The Navigator Company, Stora Enso Oyj., Suzano S/A  and Veracel.

Mr. Luigi Lazzareschi, CEO, Sofidel Group says: “We are pleased to participate in the Forests Forward program. For us, it is an important way to once again strengthen our multi-stakeholder commitment to protect forests, preserve biodiversity, and meet human needs. Being part of this innovative platform will allow us to further expand and improve our efforts to help give people and the planet a positive future, contributing to the implementation of the long-awaited transformative change we all have to support.”

Mr. Ulrich Grauert CEO, Interholco says: “We are excited to partner with WWF in the Forests Forward programme, to turn sustainable hardwood, made in Africa into a forest of solutions! Our engagement in this initiative will ensure sustainable management and protection of 1,1 million ha of tropical forests, as well providing employment, infrastructure and economic development for the region we work in. Together, we want to make it possible for consumers to choose products that not only contribute to the UN SDGs but also offer concrete solutions to the world’s environmental and social challenges. A small step globally, but for sure important for 16,000 forest inhabitants and for future-minded consumers who wish to take care of our children’s planet.”

Mr. Darren Lapp, CEO, The New Forests Company,  says: “This is a very exciting time for the responsibly-managed forest industry in Sub Saharan Africa.  Landscape Carbon offset monetization is becoming a reality, which will provide another revenue line for companies and small-growers, multinationals are now abiding by their sustainability policies and sourcing certified timber, and many international partners, including WWF, are increasing their involvement in supporting integrated forest management concepts.  We’ve never seen this level of positive engagement before.”

All participants’ scope of work can be followed on WWF’s global interactive spatial platform. Activities will be monitored and reported against clear outcomes and milestones.