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Sep 11, 2013
Verdigris Blog: WWF’s Living Forests Project
medium_laurel3.jpg The weekly Verdigris blog by Laurel Brunner

Printers and publishers are probably not all that fussed about what the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) gets up to, unless it involves commercial projects. However amongst the WWF’s many worthy efforts is the Living Forests Project. It’s interesting for various reasons, not least of which is the fact that it provides a catalyst for debate on the role and value of forests. The WWF sees potential for a new future, where we live within the planet’s ecological limits with fair resource sharing, “equitable” resource use for all.

The aim is Zero Net Deforestation and Degradation (ZNDD) by 2020, a target
for the Living Forests model developed by the WWF and the International Institute for Applied Systems and Analysis (IIASA). This is long and detailed work mostly presented in a balanced and accessible way. Even if printers and publishers don’t care about it, their customers may well do. The Living Forest project chapters are something to at least peruse if not read word for word.

Deforestation does not just affect paper prices. Paper accounts for a minority percentage of the world’s dead trees. Regardless of what the wood gets used for, the WWF believes we must shift to a new sustainable model of forestry, farming and consumption. Before long we will need to sustain more people, deal with more pollution, protect habitats and ensure wood based product provision including paper.

There is every confidence that ZNDD will be achieved however a major factor will be market balance. For printing and publishing, this means adopting policies to encourage better forestry management. According to the Living Forests work we can expect timber production to increase by 300 million hectares by 2050 and for deforestation to fall substantially from the current 13 million hectares per year.

Obviously we should be choosing FSC, PEFC and recycled papers wherever possible. Recovered paper currently accounts for 53% of recycled fibre and the WWF hopes that by 2050 it will account for 70%. A percentage of virgin fibre comes from nonwood sources such as bamboo and cotton, widely used in developing markets such as India. The use of nonwood fibre sources could reduce the amount of forests required for paper, as technology advances and as recycling and recovery efforts spread. Some markets are better than others: South Korea recovers 90% of paper products and Europe’s overall recycling rate is 74%. But in places such as India and the USA recycling rates are pretty abysmal and fall far short of where they should be. The USA, as the world’s largest and most developed economy, is especially culpable.

Undeniably conservation and resource protection is a good thing, however it cannot come at the cost of peoples’ livelihoods and welfare. This is where it gets complicated and far beyond the bounds of a humble blog. The Living Forests Project raises the questions, but businesses, especially those dependent on forests, should be considering their own answers. Everyone in our industry could keep in mind that changing the big things starts with changing the little things which generally are easy to fix.

– Laurel Brunner


Verdigris supporters who make the blog possible: Agfa Graphics (www.agfa.com), Digital Dots (www.digitaldots.org), drupa (www.drupa.com), EFI (www.efi.com), EcoPrint (www.ecoprintshow.com), Fespa (www.fespa.com), Heidelberg (www.uk.heidelberg.com), HP (www.hp.com), Kodak (www.kodak.com/go/sustainability), Pragati Offset (www.pragati.com), Ricoh (www.ricoh.com), Unity Publishing (http://unity-publishing.co.uk) and Xeikon (www.xeikon.com)


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