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International Paper Joins WWF Group

International Paper has joined the Global Forest and Trade Network in North America, one of World Wildlife Fund’s initiatives focused on eliminating illegal logging and promoting environmentally and socially responsible forest management.

International Paper, which is the world’s largest paper and packaging company, says it hopes that it can use its purchasing power to drive improvements in responsible forestry around the globe. The company joins a network of more than 200 companies and communities that are already members of the GFTN.

As a GFTN participant, International Paper will release an updated global fiber sourcing policy. The company announced a set of voluntary goals in 2012, including one focused on increasing third-party certified wood fiber by 15 percent by 2020 compared to 2010 levels.

In addition, International Paper says it will support WWF’s efforts to protect forests holding “particular value” for their biodiversity, landscape and socio-economic benefits. International Paper says it is committed to chain-of-custody certification, providing additional assurance that wood products from certified and responsibly managed forests are tracked throughout the supply chain.

In the US, International Paper has increased its sourcing of Forest Stewardship Council certified fiber by more than 1.2 million tons over the past five years, and expects to triple that increase by the end of 2014. While IP supports multiple certification standards, the company has developed a specific model for increasing its supply of FSC-certified fiber in the Southeastern United States. In Brazil, International Paper’s operations source approximately 75 percent of its pulp wood from FSC-certified sources.

In July 2011, a report by Global Winess said that WWF’s GFTN had suffered from systemic failures and was allowing companies to destroy forests and trade in illegally sourced timber. The report said that a major Malaysian logging company, which is a paying member of the program, was destroying rainforests at the rate of 20 soccer fields a day. Another GFTN member, a UK building supplier, had failed to eliminate illegally sourced timber 10 years after joining the program, Global Witness said.

At the time, WWF’s George White, head of GFTN, responded, “Some GFTN partners have a way to go on their journey to sustainability. But these are precisely the companies that should be in GFTN, and we applaud their commitments to improving their environmental performance. Companies caught flouting the rules and spirit of GFTN will be removed from the network.”

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