Rainforest Solutions Project

Promoting conservation and economic alternatives in British Columbia's Great Bear Rainforest


Global buyers of wood products “going green”, IBM report shows

March 1, 2003

‘Greenward Shift’ a warning for British Columbia’s government and industry: future market share will depend on producers’ environmental responsibility

(Vancouver, BC) – Environmental groups today applauded the release of a new report demonstrating that major customers of BC forest products are shifting their purchasing toward greener, more environmentally friendly products.

Greenpeace Canada, ForestEthics and Sierra Club of Canada, BC Chapter, are reacting to a report released today by IBM Business Consulting Services (formerly PricewaterhouseCoopers) titled: A Greenward Shift in the Market for Forest Products from British Columbia.

The report surveyed 30 customers globally, including US, Japanese, European and Canadian buyers who purchase more than $2 billion worth of BC forest products.

The survey indicates forest supplier regions that do not respond to this “green” shift are at risk of losing market share. The world’s leading buyers of wood products are represented, including retailers such as Home Depot − the world’s largest buyer of solid wood − paper customers like BBC Worldwide and the Tribune Company, and home-builders like Japan’s Mitsui.

“It’s important to consider the source of this shift,” said Lisa Matthaus, forest policy analyst for the Sierra Club of Canada, BC Chapter. “Pragmatic, bottom-line business leaders are saying that buying wood products from environmentally sustainable sources makes sense.”

Merran Smith, BC Coast Director for ForestEthics, said they are pleased to learn that their message to industry, consumers, and governments is being heard, and heeded. “This validates the concerns and issues that environmentalists raise during markets campaigns,” Smith said. “The report states that the marketplace will avoid controversy around the world’s endangered forests, including those of British Columbia. Our work with customers is not only successful, but enduring.”

Customers’ concern over endangered forests and their demonstrated commitment to environmental responsibility are warnings for BC’s government, which over the past 19 months has made deep cuts to environmental monitoring and enforcement, including radical changes to provincial forestry regulations. Given the findings of the report, such drastic environmental rollbacks could take a toll on BC’s share of the international market.

continued on page 2 “This report makes clear that much of the international marketplace is firmly rejecting forest products from controversial sources,” said Gavin Edwards, forest campaigner for Greenpeace Canada. “If the BC government continues to court controversy by gutting forest and environmental regulations, then they may well be risking the future of BC logging companies, whose survival depends upon the international marketplace.”

The IBM report states: Most customers believe that environmental procurement is here to stay and will become a standard practice.

Most of the buyers of BC forest products agreed, and indicated that producers who ignore environmental requirement could be punished. Comments include: “Take a lead – these will be the suppliers we will work with when we return to previously controversial areas.” “Some producers have been short termist – this will come back to bite them.”