Ever since Dogwood Alliance launched our first corporate campaign in 2002, challenging office products giant Staples to green its paper purchasing, our work to transform the forest products industry and protect Southern forests has continued to use the power of the marketplace to support and reward pulp and paper companies that improve their environmental performance.
In the early years, that mostly meant direct public campaigns challenging big brands.
Brands like Office Depot, Office Max, Kentucky Fried Chicken and others were targets of Dogwood’s public campaigns that mobilizing thousands of people to demand these brands protect our Southern forests and do better with their paper purchasing.
Because those fun, loud and powerful public campaigns were so successful in changing the way the largest paper consumers purchase paper, we created a huge demand for more responsibly produced paper. Now Dogwood has a seat at the table with several of the large pulp and paper companies operating across the South. Today, Dogwood’s Paper Campaign works to protect Southern Forests and transform the forest products industry in a new way. Yes, we still work to make sure that the marketplace continues to reward environmental performance, but now we also work directly with the largest paper and forest products companies in the world to improve the way they buy wood from the forests of the South.
This past December, Dogwood held its annual meetings in with Georgia-Pacific (GP) in Atlanta and with International Paper (IP) here at Dogwood’s office in Asheville, NC. We reviewed the companies’ progress in implementing the agreements we reached to improve the way they do business in the woods.
Working directly with these industry giants, Dogwood Alliance is literally manifesting our vision for a more responsible pulp and paper industry.
A vision of products produced with wood and fiber from well-managed forests and not from our last Endangered Forests or at the expense of the conversion of our diverse natural forests to monoculture pine plantations. We’ve made important progress with GP mapping Endangered Forests and Special Areas across most of the South, assisting their procurement team in developing and implementing the supply chain tools to make sure those important forests don’t end up in GP products. We’re now moving forward with IP on mapping high conservation value forests in the Coastal Plain in the procurement footprint of their massive Southeastern NC Riegelwood mill. In addition, we have helped support IP’s Forestland Stewards program, which has made significant grants in support of habitat improvement and conservation in the Piney Woods, the Coastal Carolinas and the Cumberland Plateau.
Finally, we have long advocated for Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certification as the gold standard of responsible forest management. Through our Paper Campaign, we have pushed companies to adopt purchasing commitments that favor FSC and have worked with forest product companies to grow their FSC certified volumes. With our Carbon Canopy Project, we’ve worked to develop ecosystem service payments to landowners that sequester carbon in their forests through responsible FSC certified forest management. Key FSC components for protecting Southern forests include:
- limits on the size of clearcuts
- retention of natural stands
- protection of water resources and high conservation forests
- precluding conversion of natural forests to plantations
That advocacy work has been extremely effective, and the FSC has grown as has the number of companies relying on it. Now as industry’s role in the system continues to grow, Dogwood has directly engaged with FSC to ensure the system remains the gold standard and continues to provide important forest protection. In December, the FSC held its second US South Regional Meeting in Atlanta, and in a testament to the growth of the FSC marketplace the well-attended event was frankly a who’s who of our regions forest products economy.
With Dogwood’s support and the continued market recognition for FSC certified products; there are now over 4 million acres of FSC certified forests in the US South.
This marks real progress from an industry that said that the FSC would never fly in the world’s largest pulp and paper producing region.
So the more things change here at Dogwood, the more things stay the same. We are continuing our campaign, our mission, our heart’s work, to protect Southern forests by transforming the pulp and paper industry. With your support over the years, we have found new and better ways to achieve our shared objectives. Now Dogwood is on the Board of Directors of the FSC US and on key working groups, ensuring strong standards and key forest protections. Face to face with the largest pulp and paper companies in the world on the 39th floor of a skyscraper in Atlanta and around the Dogwood conference table in Asheville working to protect forests! Keep watching for exciting progress and look for our new Green Grades report detailing environmental progress from GP, IP and Domtar coming soon.