Wal-Mart Joins WWF’s Global Forest & Trade Network
Commitment to improve the management of valuable and threatened forests
WASHINGTON, D.C. and Bentonville, Ark. July 2008 – Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. joined the Global Forest & Trade Network (GFTN), World Wildlife Fund’s (WWF) initiative to save the world’s most valuable and threatened forests, WWF announced today. By joining the GFTN, Wal-Mart has committed to phasing out illegal and unwanted wood sources from its supply chain and increasing its proportion of wood products originating from credibly certified sources – for Wal-Mart stores and Sam’s Club locations in the United States.
“With nearly half of the world’s forests already gone, action is urgently needed,” said Suzanne Apple, WWF’s VP for Business & Industry. “Wal-Mart’s commitment to support responsible forestry answers that call to action. WWF welcomes the company to a global community committed to healthy business and healthy forests.”
The United States is the largest consumer of industrial timber, pulp and paper in the world. The U.S. is also among the top destinations for imports of wood from areas where illegal logging and trade are common, such as Indonesia, China and Brazil. Thus, the U.S. market is critical to protecting forests worldwide.
Wal-Mart’s commitment includes the importation and sale of all wood-based products with an initial focus on wood-based furniture. Wal-Mart sources furniture from the Amazon, Russian Far East, northern China, Indonesia, and the Mekong region of southeast Asia. These areas include some of the most biologically diverse places on earth, places that WWF is working to protect.
Within one year, Wal-Mart will complete an assessment of where its wood furniture is coming from and whether the wood is legal and well-managed. Once the assessment is completed, Wal-Mart has committed to eliminating wood from illegal and unknown sources within five years. The company will also eliminate wood from forests that are of critical importance due to their environmental, socio-economic, biodiversity or landscape values and that aren’t well-managed.
“One of our goals at Wal-Mart is to sell products that sustain and protect our resources. By joining the GFTN we can further this goal by providing our customers with a reliable supply of wood products that come from responsibly managed forests,” said Matt Kistler, Wal-Mart’s Senior Vice President of Sustainability. “This is just one way Wal-Mart is helping our customers save money and live better.”
WWF works with private companies like Wal-Mart and public agencies like the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) to promote responsible forest management that gives weight to social values, environmental conservation and economic benefits. The World Bank estimates that illegal logging costs developing country governments more than $5 billion per year in lost taxes and other revenues.
USAID has invested almost $6.5 million since 2003 in WWF’s Global Forest & Trade Network. WWF has leveraged USAID’s investment to secure an additional $33.8 million investment to expand GFTN operations into emerging economies. Many of those emerging economies are now part of Wal-Mart’s global supply chain.
“Today’s development assistance is about mobilizing the ideas, efforts and resources of governments, businesses and civil society by forging public-private alliances that stimulate economic growth, develop businesses opportunities and address environmental issues” said Jacqueline E. Schafer, Assistant Administrator for Economic Growth, Agriculture and Trade at USAID. “Corporate engagement in WWF’s Global Forest & Trade Network has enormous potential to curb the environmental destruction associated with illegal logging in producer countries, while contributing to the economic growth of both producer and consumer countries alike.”
Wal-Mart’s commitment to promoting responsible forestry builds on the company’s collaboration with WWF. Earlier this year, Wal-Mart committed to purchasing 100 percent of its wild caught seafood sold in the U.S. from sources certified by the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) within four years.
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