I had the pleasure and privilege to attend the last Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) general assembly in September 2014, where over 90% of the membership voted to protect Intact Forest Landscapes (IFLs). This was an important step for FSC and for forest protection worldwide. In order to achieve consensus on intact forests, representatives from all three chambers (economic, environmental and social) came together to discuss their vision for forests. Greenpeace Brazil, representatives from the southern social chamber, and the members of the Brazilian timber industry were key players in this dialogue for a reason: the Amazon.
Most people know the importance of the Amazon rainforest: it is the largest rainforest remaining on earth, and contains more biodiversity than any other region on the planet. Some of these majestic wildlife species include a monkey the size of a toothbrush and a spider the size of a soup bowl (!), as well as jaguars, sloths and the unique pink river dolphin.
The Amazon is also home to over 20 million people, including indigenous peoples and traditional forest communities that rely on the abundance of this immense forest in their daily lives. Some of these communities have seen their traditional lands destroyed by forestry and other resource development.
In addition to providing a multitude of ecosystem services that humans rely on, such as water and air-cooling, the Amazon also contains one third of the world’s fresh water and stores 80-120 billion tonnes of carbon, which is critical to global climate stability.
For all these reasons, FSC’s pledge to protect IFLs is of critical importance for the Amazon. FSC understands that protecting our last remaining original forests – the ones that have existed for thousands of years – is a necessary step in responsible forest management. Not only is protecting these large intact forests crucial for biodiversity and the climate, it’s also important to the millions of people around the world who live in them and rely on them for their basic needs. Forward-thinking companies who have committed to FSC also understand that consumers want responsible forestry products, and that this requires intact forest protection.
I was proud to be part of that momentum last September. And I am excited to see FSC working hard to develop requirements for intact forest for the end of 2015, so we can get protection on the ground as soon as possible.
Paulo Adario is a Senior Forests Advisor for Greenpeace Brazil.
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