Domtar's Collaborative Approach to Sustainable Forestry
The following is a sponsored story by Domtar that originally appeared on GreenBiz.
Billions could be spent developing state-of-the-art technologies that capture carbon dioxide out of the air, and they wouldn’t come close to the elegance and cost-effectiveness of the greatest carbon sequestration tool already at our disposal — the world’s 3 trillion trees. That might sound like a lot, but with a net loss of 12.8 million acres — the equivalent area of Costa Rica — occurring each year, we are swiftly outpacing the rate at which forests can regenerate.
In addition to wiping out entire ecosystems — and the $33 trillion worth of "services" they provide, such as facilitating food, water and air production, minimizing storm damage and producing natural medicines — deforestation is responsible for driving some 17 percent of global carbon emissions, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
And let’s not forget about the 300 million people who call forests home. Around half this number are indigenous peoples whose traditional lifestyles are at risk.
The United Nations prioritizes sustainable forestry management in the Sustainable Development Goals as a key component of climate change mitigation. The goal aims to "protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification and halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss."
Taking action to halt deforestation by sustainably sourcing key commodities also is recognized as a business opportunity by nearly 90 percent of companies, according to a 2014 CDP report.
The paper and pulp industry, while not the leading driver of deforestation — most of it can be attributed to the expansion of soy and pasture land, palm oil production and other agricultural activities — still plays a noticeable role.
Domtar — recognized by many as one of the first significant sustainability players in the pulp and paper industry — has taken a collaborative approach with its stakeholders to develop an accountability structure that emphasizes performance over promises.
Foundational to Domtar’s sustainable forestry efforts are its "Sustainable Forestry Principles,"which consist of five tenets governing its paper fiber procurement by requiring transparency, collaboration and accountability in all of its transactions. These principles are an important part of Domtar’s sustainability communications platform, EarthChoice, which the company says embodies its commitment to full circle responsibility, and encompasses the entire lifecycle of its products.
"The Sustainable Forestry Principles are part of our core values. It’s part of who we are. Our employees embrace it," said Michael Garcia, president of Domtar Pulp and Paper, at the GreenBiz 16 Forum during a workshop on collaborating in sustainable forestry management.
Conserve natural forest and biodiversity
Domtar works with stakeholders to conserve forests for future generations, to protect the biodiversity of natural forest ecosystems and to promote sustainable management practices that minimize environmental impacts. This also includes adopting "reasonable alternatives" to limit the use of chemical pesticides. On the backend, Domtar is committed to quickly acting to regenerate the forests in which it operates.
"We have long relationships with leading environmental groups," Garcia said. "And while we may have different perspectives, we share the same central values of sustainability: We’re all working to keep forests forests in North America."
Commit to local communities
As an influential presence in many communities around the world, Domtar invests in its people, products and manufacturing facilities — all of which help keep its business sustainable in both senses of the word. This allows the company to maintain competitive wages and insurance coverage for employees, purchase materials and services from local suppliers and provide revenue to governments to support public schools, social services and public infrastructure.
In addition to the community benefits Domtar provides by simply doing business in a sustainable way, the company also has donated more than $6 million toward direct philanthropic efforts — which it calls "community investments." These investments typically focus on promoting literacy, health and wellness and sustainability.
Empower landowners to keep forests as forests
Domtar’s demand for reliable, economical and marketable sources of fiber creates an incentive for landowners to prevent forest destruction, and avoid converting land to parking lots or other developments. This also leaves forests to continue providing their other environmental and social benefits, including the protection of water supplies, biodiversity, hunting, fishing and camping.
The company works with a range of partners, including leading environmental groups such as World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and Rainforest Alliance, to invest in sustainable forest management practices that focus on the long term.
The forests in the southeastern United States contain globally significant conservation values, important watersheds and natural resources. Nearly 60 percent of these forests are owned by small landowners and families, according to the Rainforest Alliance, and changes in business patterns have increased industry dependence on these private forestlands for wood and fiber.