IFAW Honors Pierce Brosnan for Efforts to Protect Wildlife.
Issue: Nov 15, 2000
Celebrities Gather for Evening of Awards
and Launch of New Environmental Awareness Campaign
LOS ANGELES, Nov. 15 /PRNewswire/ --
Actor Pierce Brosnan was today honored at a Los Angeles, celebrity-event by the Massachusetts-based International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW -- www.ifaw.org ) for his involvement with IFAW's "Campaign to Protect Laguna San Ignacio," the last pristine breeding ground of the Pacific gray whale.
IFAW's Campaign to Protect Laguna San Ignacio met with victory in March of this year when the Mitsubishi Corporation and the Mexican Government abandoned plans to build the world's largest salt processing factory on the shores of Baja, Mexico.
Brosnan received his award at the launch of the joint IFAW and Earth Communications Office (ECO) environmental awareness broadcast spot, "Why Are We Here?" which tonight premiered at Universal City's IMAX theater, with more than 400 well-known celebrities, environmentalists and scientists in attendance. Brosnan joined fellow actors Morgan Freeman, Jeff Bridges and Alfre Woodard in providing his voice for the inspiring spots.
"IFAW is deeply grateful to Pierce for his long-term commitment to protect the world's great whales," said IFAW President Fred O'Regan. "Ironically, as we gather here today to celebrate recent victories, Japan's whaling fleet is preparing to set out to hunt protected whales in the internationally recognized Southern Ocean Sanctuary."
O'Regan's remarks follow an announcement by the Japanese government that its whaling fleet will depart on Friday, 17 November to kill hundreds of whales. Global opposition to Japanese whaling continues to grow. US President Bill Clinton is expected to discuss the issue with Japanese Prime Minister Yoshira Mori this week at a meeting in Brunei.
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COPYRIGHT 2000 Gale Group
MARKETING ITS MARK IS FSC'S NEXT CHALLENGE.
wardship Council, labeling wood and wood products)(Industry Overview)
Author/s: R. Michelle Breyer
Issue: August 6, 2001
Forest Stewardship Council has won over large U.S. dealers; suppliers are another matter
Actor Pierce Brosnan of 007 fame gazes intently out from the page of a recent issue of People magazine. "You don't have to be a special agent to protect our forests," reads the public service announcement.
All you have to do, according to the ad, is ask for the certification label of the Forest Stewardship Council when buying wood or wood products. Brosnan is the latest weapon in the FSC's increasingly aggressive campaign to win over North American consumers in its quest to become the seal of approval for green lumber.
Labeling has become an increasingly contentious and political battle. And FSC, which was formed to provide independent, third-party certification for forest lands, must work with the forest industry to certify enough acreage to meet the growing demand for this wood without sacrificing its standards and losing the support of the environmental community -- support it believes is essential to its existence.
"We can't afford to drive businesses away," said Hank Cauley, executive director of FSC in the United States. "But we don't want to reduce our standards in such a way that we lose our credibility across the balance of interests we have."
But will credibility be enough when retailers start demanding a steady supply of certified wood?
In North America, the FSC has a formidable competitor in the Sustainable Forestry Initiative, which has the backing of the American Forest & Paper Association, whose members own tens of millions of acres of North American forests.
In the United States, FSC has only 8.3 million acres certified, while SFI expects to have 105 million acres certified by year's end. Over the past several weeks, FSC has been soliciting comment on its Web site about sustainable forestry standards it is developing for nine regions in the United States, and has sent postcards to 550 "stakeholders" in those markets, including giant forest products companies like Georgia-Pacific.
"This is a classic tussle in the marketplace for the hearts and minds of producers and consumers," said Robert Hrubes, senior vp for Scientific Certification Systems, one of two auditors in the United States that certifies forest management practices to FSC's standards. "Time will tell in terms of what scheme wins out and how far FSC goes."
FSC has gained some powerful allies. Home Depot, Lowe's and Andersen Corp. are among the companies that have agreed to give preference to suppliers offering FSC-certified wood. In a recent article, Home Depot's lumber buyer John Schwager claimed that his company sells $3 million worth of FSC-certified products weekly. "Our customers ask for it," Schwager said in the June 9 article in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer.
But the Council has its share of critics from both sides of the fence. Some environmentalists have raised questions about lax standards by FSC certifiers -- charges that challenge the credibility of the FSC label."There is evidence of a generally lax approach on the part of most FSC-accredited certifiers to ensuring that logging operations comply with FSC's Principles and Criteria," according to a 1999 evaluation by Simon Counsell of the Rainforest Foundation, one of the founding members of FSC. "Many certificates appear to be awarded on the basis of hoped-for improvement in the management of logging operations rather than actual good quality at the time of assessment. This has resulted in certification of forestry operations with major failures of compliance with principles and criteria."
Some in the industry believe that FSC would go farther faster if it embraced the premise of mutual recognition, the practice of accepting the standards and protocols of other certification bodies. SF1, for example, last month became a full member of the Pan-European Forest Certification group and will submit its standards for review this year.
"To survive, they'll have to do something to increase their acreage," said Michael Klein, a spokesman for the American Forest & Paper Association, said of FSC. "Maybe it's a mutual recognition agreement. That doesn't mean one program has to gobble up another."
But any kind of mutual recognition is unlikely, at least in the near term, Cauley said. Mutual recognition, in his eyes, would mean reducing the FSC's standards to the "lowest common denominator" and losing the support of the powerful environmental groups that support it.
While FSC officials concede they need to significantly increase their supply of certified wood -- demand exceeds supply by at least 10 times -- they say companies like Home Depot and Lowe's are willing to be patient, Cauley said. "They're not putting much pressure on me to increase supply," Cauley said. "They'll give preference to FSC suppliers as those suppliers come on line. They want us to do it right, not undermine the label."
UP FOR A CHALLENGE
FSC is used to challenges. It got its start as an outgrowth of the 1991 United Nations Rio Earth Summit's movement to define and implement sustainable development principles and apply them to landscape conservation or forest certification. It was officially founded in October 1993. In eight years, the FSC has certified 3 percent of the world's forests. The FSC is funded by government and private donors. In March '2001, the Ford Foundation announced a $5 million grant to the international headquarters of the FSC, which plans to use the money to expand its worldwide forest certification program over the next five years.
Although it has experienced significant growth, FSC has had some internal turmoil of late. In early July, Dr. Maharaj Muthoo resigned from his position as executive director of FSC for personal reasons after barely six months on the job. During his tenure with FSC, Dr. Muthoo was a leading proponent of evolution within the organization and he successfully created a new strategic plan for FSC. Heiko Liedeker, a native of Germany and former chairman of the Worldwide Wood Fund European Forest Team, will serve as acting executive director while an international search is conducted for a permanent replacement. The group is also planning to relocate its international headquarters from Mexico to Europe, where FSC and PEFC are battling for recognition and market position.
FSC has prided itself on its ability to balance environmental, social and economic interests. In addition to the economics of forestry, FSC's certification standards consider issues such as minimizing clear cuts, striving to eliminate pesticide use and the protection of forests with a high conservation value. They also include social concerns such as workers rights, local community needs and all laws and regulations. These ideals have won over such environmental groups as Greenpeace, the Rainforest Action Network and the World Wildlife Federation
"We want to hold [the FSC] standard as the only standard that consumers should support," said Jessica Lawrence, RAN's markets campaigner. "Other systems aren't credible. They're 'green wash.'"
But some believe that FSC's alliance with environmental groups harms its ability to work with the forestry industry. "Forestry is a business," Klein said. "Businesses need to make money to survive. A lot of the groups they're aligned with don't like or support the forest products industry and would like to see it cease to exist." Cauley countered that argument by stating that FSC's inclusion of many different interests -- it has 500 members worldwide, including 80 in the United States -- has been the key to its growing influence.
"It's the most democratic organization I've ever been associated with," Cauley said. "Greenpeace has a voice, just as all industry participants have a voice. FSC is unwilling to squash a particular voice that has come to our table."
CHAIN OF CUSTODY
Chain of custody has been another issue that differentiates FSC from other certification schemes, but has also been seen as an impediment to its broader application. FSC endorses two types of audits: one that ensures that sustainable forests are certified accurately and another called "chain of custody certification," which means that the supplier or dealer has procedures in place to keep certified wood products separate from wood harvested from non-certified forests.
"If you can't track the product from the forest floor to the retail floor, you don't have credibility," Cauley said.
But even here, the Council has made compromises in this area. For example, it now allows for "group certification" that's handled by a certified resource manager, which is aimed at making its certification process more palatable to private landowners who own around 60 percent of the forests in the United States. Cauley explained that if 50 percent of all the wood these landowners sell is certified, all of their inventory could go out with a label that says 50 percent is certified.
The Council has also gone to "percentage-based" chain of custody, which allows for as little as 17.5 percent of the wood to be certified wood if the other 82.5 percent is "neutral content material." The higher the amount of virgin fiber in the product, the higher the percentage required to be FSC certified. A paper written by Eric Hansen of Oregon State University, which appeared in literature of the Certified Forest Products Council, noted that FSC will bestow its label on solid wood that has come from a forest that's been 70 percent certified, and on finished products whose content is 30 percent certified. Some critics scoff at FSC's chain-of-custody policy as a flawed concept. "It's nearly impossible to do chain of custody on the large scale the industry needs to survive as an industry," Klein insisted.
Leick Furniture of Sheboygan, Wis, is launching its New Forest line this summer, a line of cherry, maple and oak furniture with 70 percent FSC certification. "To me, the biggest value is that [FSC] is independent," said Greg Leick, Leick Furniture's CEO.
While Leick has enough certified wood for its current orders, it may not be able to find enough to expand the program. And he said FSC certification process hasn't been easy (it took his company a year), and it the process includes costs that will be difficult to pass on to a consumer who doesn't know or care much about wood certification.
"I don't know how you get people to understand something as abstract as how a parcel of forest is managed," Leick said.
That's where Pierce Brosnan comes in. FSC plans to spend a lot of money on ads with more high-profile celebrities to convince people that there is value in the FSC name, Cauley said."Will one label predominate in the marketplace?" Cauley asked. "There's not room for more than one label in the marketplace."
COPYRIGHT 2001 Reproduced with permission of the copyright holder. Further reproduction or distribution is prohibited without permission.
COPYRIGHT 2001 Gale Group