By
World Wildlife Fund United Kingdom (Posted 16.12.14)

The Prince of Wales encourages UK business leaders to tackle forest destruction

His Royal Highness, The Prince of Wales, as President of World Wildlife Fund (WWF) - United Kingdom, chaired a meeting of UK business leaders at WWF’s Forest Business Forum to explore ways to ensure that the UK market in wood-based products can help protect the worlds’ forests from deforestation. Also in attendance were wildlife presenter and author, Steve Backshall, and WWF Ambassador and businesswoman, Deborah Meaden.

The UK is the world’s fifth largest importer of wood-based products, from greetings cards to furniture to musical instruments, consuming materials valued at over £14.4 billion in 2013. Forests are disappearing at a rate of one football pitch every two seconds and global demand for wood for timber, paper and fuel is set to triple by 2050. UK businesses have a vital role in taking action to keep forests thriving - helping secure a longer term future both for their supply chains and nature. They also have a responsibility to ensure that their customers are not unwittingly buying products that contribute to deforestation.

At WWF’s Forest Business Forum, The Prince of Wales heard leading business views on some of the proposed solutions which could help move global forest trade to a 100% sustainable footing, as identified by WWF in its Forest Campaign.

Since the launch of the campaign in September, over 30 influential businesses have publicly pledged to support the campaign and have committed to source all their wood-based products from legal and sustainable sources by 2020.

Chief Executive of WWF-UK, David Nussbaum, said, “WWF-UK’s forest campaign challenges businesses to commit to responsible trade in wood and paper to help end deforestation around the world. Businesses that rely on wood, from greetings card companies to furniture manufacturers and musical instruments makers, need to step up and make sure they only use materials from sustainable sources. I am delighted that The Prince of Wales has brought his passion and concern for the environment to help highlight this pressing issue.”

Deborah Meaden, WWF Ambassador, who has supported the campaign since its launch in September, added, “It makes business sense for leading businesses to work together to reach solutions that ensure the long-term supply of a resource on which they, as well as nature, depend. These businesses need forests, and forests need them.”

Group Chief Executive of Kingfisher plc, Sir Ian Cheshire, said, "At Kingfisher we estimate that we rely on an area the size of Switzerland in forest products every year. We’re committed to ensuring our supply chains are not contributing to deforestation. Indeed we actually want to go beyond that, with an aspiration to make a positive contribution in helping restore them but we will only be able to save forests if all businesses make the same kind of commitment and ensure sustainable forest management. That’s why we need to work together with WWF and other businesses to find positive solutions for this global problem."

Steve Backshall, wildlife presenter and author, said, “Forests are vital to the life of our planet - one billion people around the world depend on them for their livelihoods and they are home to well over half the world’s terrestrial species. We all need to learn to respect the forest resources we have and use them responsibly. That starts with making sure that the wood products we all use here in the UK come from legal and sustainable sources”.