The majority of logging companies,  fail to protect their lands from unsustainable clear-felling practices and even fewer have systems to monitor and ensure such policies. This study looks at global Companies and rainforests, but the same can be applied to Timber practices in The United States.

Forestry companies warned over environmental policies

5 August 2019 | James Fair |

Sustainable timber operations have the potential to protect huge swaths of tropical rainforest, but the majority of companies do not have adequate safeguards for the forest holdings they control.
New analysis investigates the Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) policies of 97 companies that manage an area of rainforest greater than the whole of California.
Companies with good policies are more likely to attract investment because they are protecting their assets over the long-term
Forestry companies that manage huge areas of rainforest in the tropics have failed to commit themselves to policies of “zero deforestation,” according to an analysis of their environmental policies by the Zoological Society of London (ZSL).

The latest report from ZSL’s Sustainability Policy Transparency Toolkit SPOTT)  initiative shows that of the 97 companies it assesses, 77 control land that is not protected from being clear-felled to make way for agricultural plantations or other uses.

The companies investigated by ZSL have a combined landbank of nearly 47 million hectares (116 million acres), an area 15 times the size of Belgium or a little greater than California.

The SPOTT analysis even found flaws in the policies of those 20 companies that do commit themselves to sustainable, selective logging: only 11 of them require all their suppliers to uphold the zero-deforestation commitment, and only 12 have adequate reporting systems to monitor deforestation, ZSL says.

The way in which forestry companies manage these assets is vital, said SPOTT manager Oliver Cupit. “Though forestry operations are not the primary cause of land clearances, they are responsible for degradation,” he said. “Once you have taken out the most valuable timbers, that reduces the financial viability of the holding, and that can lead to encroachment from mining and agriculture.”
Well-run forestry activities actually protect tropical biodiversity better than no activity at all, Cupit added. “It is better that it goes on than the forest has no financial value, which can make it more prone to more aggressive conversion such as agriculture,” he said.

The holdings of forestry companies also play a vital role in mitigating the impacts of climate change, by reducing emissions from deforestation and degradation, ZSL said.

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bird s eye view of woodpile
Photo by Pok Rie on

About the reporter: James Fair is a wildlife conservation and environmental journalist based in England. You can find him on Twitter at @Jamesfairwild.