Sustaining Our Defense press release

Announcing the release of “Sustaining Our Defense,” a new report implicating paper industry, led by in forest destruction, worsening the climate crisis…

For Immediate Release: June 30, 2010

Contact: Scot Quaranda, Dogwood Alliance, 828.242.3596 [email protected]

Southern Forests Vital to Sustaining Our Defense Against Climate Change

New Report Implicates Paper Industry Led by in Forest Destruction Worsening the Climate Crisis Calls Forest Protection and Restoration for a Sustainable Paper Industry in the Southern US the Only Wise Choice

Asheville, NCToday, Dogwood Alliance and UK-based NGO, Climate for Ideas, released a report “Sustaining Our Defense: Southern Forests, Carbon, and the Fight Against Global Climate Change.” The report further demonstrates the important role forests play in mitigating global climate change and implicates the paper industry for failing to address this vital issue which greatly weakens our natural defenses. The report is based upon the work of Climate for Ideas’ in, “The Carbon Footprint of two virgin fiber paper packaging mills in the Mid-Atlantic Coastal Ecosystem.”

The report states that Southern Forests are one of the nations’ most important and powerful tools for sequestering and storing carbon and other greenhouse gasses and protecting our environment from the dangers of global climate change. When natural forests are protected or managed responsibly, they accumulate and hold carbon, serving as carbon reservoirs, or “sinks.” Maintaining and enhancing carbon stores in forests keeps carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere. When they are disturbed by logging or lost through conversion to industrial tree plantations or development, they release carbon dioxide and add to atmospheric levels of greenhouse gasses overall.

“The choices we make today about how we treat forests have implications for how much carbon dioxide we put into the atmosphere,” said Jim for of Climate for Ideas. “We can choose to emit that carbon to the atmosphere, or keep it in the forests.”

According to the report, the paper industry delivers a one-two-three punch to our climate. First, logging for paper production releases carbon from the soil and trees and disrupts a forest’s natural cycle of carbon sequestration. Second, the slash left behind or burned in the forest continue to emit carbon for years and it takes a long-time before a forest regains the level of carbon uptake it had achieved pre-logging. Third, the pulp processing of wood to paper is a huge source of greenhouse gas emissions with only a small portion of the tree ultimately in the paper itself.

“’s two giant paper packaging mills on the mid-Atlantic coast which supply KFC with its iconic buckets are responsible for increasing atmospheric levels of carbon dioxide by over 7.5 million tons in a single year,” said Andrew Goldberg of Dogwood Alliance. “According to the EPA, this is equivalent to the emissions from over 1.3 million cars or the annual emissions from nearly two coal fired power plants.”

The report details why our forests need to be protected and restored to ensure maximum benefits in the fight against climate change. In order to do this we need to reduce our overall use of paper, use more recycled fiber and ensure forests are better managed for carbon storage is to manage to the high standards of the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC). Better forest management with less clearcutting and longer rotations with protection of natural forests from conversion to monoculture plantations improve our carbon performance.

When trees are harvested there is an immediate long-term negative effect on the forests’ natural sequestration of carbon. Even when trees are replanted, it can take up to 20 years for a newly planted forest to stop being a net emitter of greenhouse gasses. It can take hundreds of years before it stores the same amount of carbon as an undisturbed forest. Which of course runs counter to the industry greenwashing assertion that planted and young trees in plantations are sufficient to combat global climate change.

When harvested trees arrive at a pulp and paper mill, the manufacturing process required to convert them into paper emits enormous amounts of carbon dioxide (CO2) into the atmosphere. The virgin fiber mills in the study consume approximately 3.5 tons of wood for every ton of paper produced. The wood that does not become part of the final product is burned as fuel releasing additional CO2 into the air.

The report implicates (IP), the largest paper producer in the Southern US and the world, as a climate criminal. Specifically, it looks at IP’s paper packaging mills on the mid-Atlantic coast which supply fast food companies including KFC’s iconic bucket. IP’s continued reliance on out-dated forestry methods like ditching and draining of wetlands, conversion of natural forests to plantations and large-scale clearcutting are having a detrimental impact on the region’s forests to sequester carbon. This suggests that customers like KFC and other fast food companies should work with IP to end these practices and increase the use of recycled fiber in its products.

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“Sustaining Our Defense” can be viewed and downloaded at: The report is based on “The Carbon Footprint of two virgin fiber paper packaging mills in the Mid-Atlantic Coastal Ecosystem,” written by Climate for Ideas and commissioned by Dogwood Alliance.
Dogwood Alliance is an environmental organization based in Asheville, NC that mobilizes diverse voices to defend the unique forests and communities of the Southern U.S. from destructive by industrial forestry practices. They currently targeting KFC for its use of paper packaging that is destroying the forests of the Southern US, learn more at or for general info, visit:
Climate for Ideas conducts research on environmental issues in order to advance sound science and sound policy for companies, governments and non-governmental organizations. Learn more at

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