Wednesday, June 17, 2009

What's your forest footprint?

Will companies be accountable to their forest footprint and will need to disclose it in the near future?

Well, I am not sure about it, but an important step in this direction was taken with the establishment of the Forest Footprint Disclosure Project (FFD project) a new UK government-supported initiative, that was created to help investors identify how an organisation’s activities and supply chains contribute to tropical deforestation, and link this 'forest footprint' to their value.

Environmental Leader reported yesterday that started with a $123,000 grant from the government and the support of 12 financial institutions, the Forest Footprint Disclosure Project will reveal corporations’ forest stewardship practices - or lack thereof - to investors on an annual basis.

So what is a forest footprint? according to the FFD's website it's "the total amount of deforestation caused directly or indirectly by an organisation or product." And if you ask yourself how important it is for the environment to be aware of this footprint, just remember that up to 20% of all carbon emissions are caused by deforestation in the tropics and subtropics – more than from the global transport sector.

Here's more information about the work the FFD is planning on doing from their website:

Modelled on the successful Carbon Disclosure Project, it aims to create transparency and shed light on a key challenge within investor portfolios, where currently there is little quality information.

Participating companies will be asked to disclose how their operations and supply chains are impacting forests worldwide, and what is being done to manage those impacts responsibly. They will also gain a better understanding of their own environmental dependencies, and how the changing climate and new regulatory frameworks could affect access to resources and the cost of doing business in the long term.

The disclosure information will be reported annually, enabling investors to identify the sustainable businesses of the future as well possible risks related to a company’s forest footprint.

The first report is due out in January. The group’s Global Forest Footprints Report (PDF) details how corporate activities affect deforestation. Books are not mentioned in the report (it's more focused on commodities like soy, timber, beef and so on), but it will be interesting to see if anyone from the book industry will participate in this program. Given the fact that virgin paper is responsible for most of the book industry's carbon footprint, it can definitely be a good fit for this new initiative.

Raz @ Eco-Libris