FSC+20 Forum: Tuesday 11am-12.30pm – Tropical forests in trouble: How can certification be a tool to maintain key tropical forest ecosystems?
“Every four minutes a forest the size of a football field is lost”
Tony Mendoza (FSC GA Youth Correspondent)

Tropical forests provide much more than what we think.

Have you ever seen exotic animals such as macaws, orangutans or anacondas? They are all in danger, because they live in tropical forests.

zoom (© FSC A.C.) © FSC A.C.These forests are constantly threatened by those who want to capitalize on their vast amount of trees. On Tuesday, different stakeholders met in an FSC+20 Forum called ‘Tropical Forests in Trouble’, and shared their viewpoints about how a certification system can solve this problem.

“Every four minutes a forest of a football field size is lost,” pointed out Mario Mantovani, Director of Public Policies of Fundação SOS Mata Atlântica, in Brazil. He remarked that there are around 400 - 1,600 different tree species in a forest. Can you imagine a world losing more than a thousand organisms in four minutes? He also remarked that one large forest in Brazil – covering one third of the total land area of the fifth largest country in the world – has been reduced by 92 percent. That means that forests the size of countries like Argentina or Kazakhstan are now gone.

Animals and plants are not the ones menaced; so are human populations. The Amazon rainforest produces 20 percent of earth's oxygen. Many indigenous communities live in these areas, and so human lives are also threatened by illegal trade and by logging companies with no certification. In words of Greenpeace International Executive Director, Kumi Naidoo, “indigenous have a better appreciation of how humanity should live on this planet”. Yet in a tragic case in point, this event began with news of the murder of four Peruvian anti-logging activists who were part of the indigenous Asháninka community.

“If everybody has the same consumption levels that the first world for granted, we are going to need approximately three planets,” remarked Naidoo referring to WWF statics. And deforestation of tropical forests affects not only living organisms, it has economic consequences. “Deforestation is an economic menace for enterprises which provide wood products,” claimed Pascal Gil, CEO of Brico Dépôt in Portugal and Spain. He remarked, “if we do nothing, some years later we will have no more wood because demand keeps rising”.

So, how can a problem that seems to affect everything be solved? “Certification is clearly an important part of the picture”, said Helen Browning, Chief Executive of Soil Association. “ an important way to engage customers”, she noted. Mario Mantovani added: “when you consume something with no certified origin, you are killing nature,” referring to the fact that most of the non-certified companies invest money in chemicals and not in restoring the forest they have exploited.

“Everything in the media is negative and this engages people,” expressed Anand Punja, Head of Sustainability and Environment for the Timber Trade Federation. For example, Pascal Gil said he decided to stop providing some products with unknown origin. With more awareness of the issues, people can choose products from responsible sources that can help sustain the planet we all live in – given the choice.

Finally, as deforestation is a problem that has been happening for many years, the solution might rest with younger generations. “Imagine a world that is peaceful, just, sustainable. Work for that and get out of the current world you are in,” said Kumi Naidoo in a message for young people.