AbitibiBowater Leaps Ahead of Competitors on Southern Forest Conservation; Lags Further Behind
Asheville, NC – On February 29, 2008, Dogwood Alliance released a report, “Southern Forests & Bowater, Inc.: Progress Report July 2006 – July 2007,” detailing the leap forward Bowater (now AbitibiBowater) made in honoring its commitment to improve forestry practices in the Southern US and in protecting forests of ecological significance on the Cumberland Plateau of Eastern Kentucky, Central Tennessee and Northern Alabama. The report does not address concerns with AbitibiBowater’s forest practices in the Canadian Boreal forest.
In June 2005, a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) was signed between Dogwood Alliance, NRDC and Greenville, SC based Bowater, Inc. which set the standard for improved management of the Southern United States working forest landscape. Though in October of 2007, Bowater merged with Abitibi Consolidated to become AbitibiBowater, the terms of the MOU remain in effect for all of the AbitibiBowater mills in the US formerly owned by Bowater. The report details progress the company made over the second year of implementing the commitments contained in the MOU.
“AbitibiBowater has demonstrated that working together, we can end the conversion of natural forests to plantations and protect special places in the largest paper producing region in the world,” said Danna Smith, Policy Director for Dogwood Alliance. “While AbitibiBowater has taken a leap forward, the largest paper producer in the region, , continues to cling to out-dated practices that are destroying some of North America’s most unique forests in the Cumberland Plateau and Southern Swampland regions of the Southern US.”
Highlights from the progress report include:
- An end to the conversion of all natural forests to pine plantations on Bowater’s forestland – making it the first paper company in the South to formally discontinue this ecologically destructive practice.
- Steps taken by the company to discourage others from converting natural forests to plantations including: notifying landowners supplying it with wood fiber that it will no longer purchase any fiber from plantations established in 2008 and beyond at the expense of natural forests; tracking plantation conversion in its’ Verifiable Fiber Tracking program; and, exploring the use of satellite imagery analysis as a means of identifying natural forests converted to plantations in 2008 and beyond so that it can avoid purchases of wood from these plantations in the future.
- Protection of ecologically important land on the Cumberland Plateau. Over the past year, 16,000 acres of forests once owned by Bowater, has been transferred to the state of Tennessee for conservation purposes, representing more than 25% of the land sold by Bowater during this period.
’s indiscriminate use of large quantities of wood for its paper mills continues to have significant negative impacts on forests of high conservation value in the Southern US, including in the Cumberland Plateau and the wetland forests of the Mid-Atlantic Coastal region. IP has been a leading force behind the conversion of millions of acres of natural forests and wetlands in the South to sterile pine plantations.
“As others in the paper industry embrace the need for change and make progress, continues to make excuses,” said Smith. “Dogwood Alliance is escalating its efforts to pressure the company to take meaningful action to protect Southern forests and communities.”
In addition to working with IP’s largest customers in the office supply sector like Staples and Office Depot, Dogwood Alliance recently launched an effort targeting IP’s large corporate consumers of paper packaging such as Yum! Brand Foods (parent company of KFC, Taco Bell, Pizza Hut and more) and McDonald’s of the fast food sector and Procter & Gamble and Unilever in the health and beauty sector to convince them to hold IP to a high environmental standard or find alternative, more environmentally progressive paper suppliers.
To read and download the full report, visit: http://www.dogwoodalliance.org/images/pdfs/bowaterprogressreport2007.pdf
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Dogwood Alliance is the only organization in the Southern United States holding corporations accountable for the impact of their industrial forestry practices on our forests and communities. In addition to holding the office supply industry accountable to their environmental commitments, Dogwood Alliance is working to stop the destructive practices of the paper packaging sector. Visit www.dogwoodalliance.org for more information.