Unsustainable and illegal logging is one of the major causes of deforestation and forest degradation and continues to rise. Globally, more than 100 million cubic metres of timber are estimated to be harvested illegally each year, and unsustainable logging accounts for 30–70% of forest degradation across Africa, Southeast Asia, and South America, changing forests from carbon sinks to carbon sources. At the same time, demand for wood and forest products is increasing rapidly.
As population and incomes grow, there's also a growing need for forestry and farming practices that produce more with less land, water and pollution, as well as new consumption patterns that meet the needs of the poor while eliminating waste and over-consumption.
Nearly one-third of the tropical forest area globally is designated for timber production. It is critical that production forests are managed with proper ecological and social standards and take into account the global use and recovery of wood products in their processing, and recycling.
At the heart of WWF’s forest sector work is the belief that the world’s growing appetite for wood can be met while conserving the world’s forests if the right measures to use these resources wisely are implemented. WWF aims to help develop an innovative forest sector that values and safeguards forests. By implementing sustainable practices on the ground and increasing responsible trade worldwide, the forestry sector can maximize the benefits of biodiversity-rich, productive forests and embrace an inclusive, respectful culture that supports people and our planet. At the same time, we work with companies across sectors to reduce their footprint on forests, restore degraded and deforested ecosystems and help reach them sustainability goals that extend beyond their supply chain.
- Global platforms and tools: WWF has been working both at the national and global levels for more than three decades and has contributed significantly to helping restructure the nature of global forest production and trade. WWF aims to ensure that the world’s increasing demand for wood can be met through sustainable forest management, including a new generation of well-managed plantations, while maintaining and enhancing the many other services that forests provide. We use a multi-pronged approach to influencing the private sector through Forests Forward, WWF's performance-based programme, and impact-focused partnerships such as with IKEA to bring about market and policy change. Through Forests Forward, we engage with those who manage, protect and restore forests to mobilize and catalyze action around three fundamental action areas in which participants can get involved: improving forest management, responsible sourcing and market shift, and forest-based interventions and investments.
- Improving forest management: Around 60 per cent of forests worldwide are designated for production. Forest plantations make up 7 per cent of global forest cover, but account for 35 per cent of commercial timber volume. WWF engages with multiple stakeholders both in the policy and private sectors to drive change and to find and implement innovative solutions. We aim to mainstream the highest standards of responsible forest and plantations management by stimulating and enabling responsible forestry, credible certification and a new generation of well-managed plantations. By working on specific issues such as High Conservation Value (HCV) habitats, certain ecosystem services, reduced impact logging, fair trade and livelihoods for smallholders and communities, we can contribute to a better future for forests, people and the planet.
- Engaging and strengthening community and smallholder forestry: People need to find direct benefits from forests for them to value and conserve nature. WWF is testing and implementing a portfolio of approaches around the world to deliver these benefits, including certification, better management practices and improved social forest management, commodities and policy measures.
- Responsible sourcing and market shift: WWF works with the entire wood supply chain and engages with companies that have a link in their sourcing to a forest, plantation or landscape where better management is needed, or that are connecting credibly certified producers with global timber markets.
- Forest-based interventions and investments: Forests Forward participants can invest in additional actions to secure the future viability of the world’s forests. Whether it’s a project to maintain, enhance and demonstrate the value that forests hold, or support sustainable growth and timber supply while positively impacting people and nature, WWF offers tools and knowledge to help identify and design practical, impactful action at the right scale that others can learn from and adopt elsewhere.
- Innovation: Through our experience in engaging with diverse collaborators and convening and connecting stakeholders, we seek ways to identify, evidence, scale and promote successful solutions. We bring science, policy, business and community angles together to foster projects that improve people’s lives, and that lead to the protection, maintenance and long-term recovery of biodiversity and ecosystems.
- Advocacy and research on the role and importance of the forest sector in avoiding forest degradation, delivering forest restoration, preserving biodiversity and improving local livelihoods.