The global carbon market is radically reshaping the world’s forests into a booming asset class – one already worth $US 100 billion (AU $156 billion) – but the industry has no seat at the table where the new rules are getting drawn up.
As the Wood Central Publisher reported in May, the forestry industry has struggled to find a voice in global financial markets.
Now, two Australian veterans of the forest industry are hoping to change that, launching the International Sustainable Forestry Coalition with 10 founding companies that together manage 9 million hectares of forest across 27 countries.
The two leading the charge are Dr David Brand, Chair of New Forests, and Ross Hampton, former CEO of the Australian Forest Products Association, who head a group that includes founding members Dasos Capital, F&W Forestry, Gresham House, Marubeni, Mitsui & Co., Ltd (Mitsui), New Forests, Oji Holdings Corporation, Rayonier, Stora Enso and UPM.
The members of the new coalition have forest interests in all forest-growing continents, including Australia, New Zealand, USA, Brazil, Chile, Uruguay, Ireland, UK, Finland, Sweden, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, France, Poland, Spain, Portugal, Indonesia, Japan, Thailand, Malaysia, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Uganda, Tanzania and Mozambique.
The ISFC has published a position paper outlining the new group’s objectives to coincide with the launch.
For the first time, it signals a commitment by the global forestry sector to play a more significant role in the policy process towards a more sustainable society.
“We intend to contribute positively to these debates by bringing the global expertise, scientific knowledge, and practical perspectives of our sector to support policy outcomes that benefit both people and the planet,” the position paper establishes.
Ross Hampton, the Executive Director, said the focus was to increase the global provision of renewable materials in the context of a circular bioeconomy.
It will achieve this by supporting growth compatible with climate and nature recovery imperatives, embedding science-based principles in policy and incentives, and increasing benefits to rural and Indigenous Peoples.
“The ISFC is committed to helping solve the challenges laid out in the Glasgow Leaders Declaration of Forests and Land Use, being progressed by the Forests and Climate Leaders Partnership (FCLP),” he said.
Mr Hampton is the Chair of the FAO Advisory Committee on Sustainable Forest-Based Industries, which comprises senior executives from global forest companies. Its main objective is to provide guidance on the activities and work programme for the FAO Forestry Division.
“The private forestry sector is a vital partner to mobilise capital at the scale required to deliver on these ambitions and the applicable United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.”
According to David Brand, the Convening Chair, the industry must engage more directly with the Climate Change and Biodiversity COPs.
It can achieve this “with initiatives such as the Forests and Climate Leaders Partnership and other policy processes related to the conservation and sustainable management of forests,” Dr Brand said.
“There is an expectation that the forestry sector needs to grow and contribute to a transition to greater use of sustainable, renewable, naturally decomposable materials in society; to a sustainable built environment; and thriving rural communities,” he said.
“This will require expanded investment, but also an approach that creates and perpetuates landscapes which effectively balance conservation and production functions.”
The ISFC will undertake activities during New York Climate Week and at COP28 in Dubai.