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The Root of the Matter
Thoughts from FSC’s Director General

Better together: the future of Intact Forest Landscapes with Greenpeace Director Kumi Naidoo

Monday, 7 September 2015

Better together: the future of Intact Forest Landscapes with Greenpeace Director Kumi Naidoo (© Jesse Cruz(FSC Global Development))© Jesse Cruz(FSC Global Development)
Better together: the future of Intact Forest Landscapes with Greenpeace Director Kumi Naidoo

FSC Director General Kim Carstensen explains why protecting the world’s intact forest landscapes is the entire FSC community’s responsibility.

We make room for all kinds of voices at FSC – it’s something I’m proud to be part of.

In fact, we were founded on parity: that the future of the world’s forests are equally important to consumers, businesses, social groups/communities and environmental organizations. It’s why, to this day, each of our three membership chambers has a say in board-level decisions. This way we can ensure we reach decisions that are sustainable for everyone.

Greenpeace has been an active member of our environmental chamber since day one of FSC. I first met its director, Kumi Naidoo, in 2002 in Pretoria in a meeting with the then South African President, Thabo Mbeki. Kumi was representing Civicus, a global civil rights organization, and I was leading the WWF International delegation for the World Summit on Sustainable Development in South Africa. Later I met Kumi again in the preparations for the failed Climate Summit in Copenhagen in 2009, where he was representing Greenpeace, and I represented WWF. With a shared passion for a social approach to environmental issues, we have always worked together in different styles, but with a shared objective of creating long-term solutions that protect our natural environment for future generations.

A topic that, in particular, concerns both of us deeply is the future of intact forest landscapes (or IFLs as they’re known). We met last month in Amsterdam to discuss IFLs, and the action that FSC, Greenpeace, and other members need to take.

The growing threat to intact forest landscapes

Intact forest landscapes are the last remaining areas of forest that are untouched by modern development. They do not have commercial infrastructure, roads, industrial logging operations, and have not been converted to plantations. Among the world’s richest environments for biodiversity, they’re an essential source of carbon storage, and home to millions of animal species, as well as forest-dependent communities.

It’s hard to hear Kumi say that the world has lost or degraded eight per cent of IFLs since 2000. This is equivalent to an area three times the size of Germany. But this is why his organization, along with many others, has lobbied FSC to take a leading role in protecting IFLs, and sustaining them for the future. And it’s why the overwhelming majority of the FSC membership supported the initiative.

Doing so has required some broad thinking from our organization. To protect IFLs, we must think beyond our own forest management standards. No single approach, and no single group can protect these areas alone. I agree with Kumi that Indigenous and traditional communities who already live in the forest can be its best guardians, and those groups need support to avoid the unfortunate rise of illegal deforestation and forest destruction that our generation has seen.

A shared responsibility, led by FSC

In my view, the IFLs of the future will be the responsibility of FSC, forestry companies, national and local governments, indigenous and traditional communities, international financial institutions, businesses, and social and environmental groups, all of whom must share efforts and resources to protect these areas for future generations.

Agreeing to this kind of collaboration is certainly a challenge, but one that we are preparing ourselves for. At our last General Assembly our members passed motion 65, which confirms that FSC will implement standards for protecting IFLs by the end of 2016. I’m pleased to say we’re already making great inroads – our IFL advisory group, formed to cooperate globally in implementing this motion, is working with FSC’s stakeholders of all types, and all over the world to agree on a framework that all parties will subscribe to.

A resource for all of humanity

Greenpeace places a lot of trust and has high expectations that FSC will lead the charge on the future of IFLs. We understand the responsibility that FSC has here, and our membership – Greenpeace included – will rightfully not let us forget it either!

As Kumi says, forests are resources for all of humanity. We must listen to everyone who relies on the forest, as well as the best science, to ensure the best future for IFLs, and humanity.

By doing this, we can ensure environmental, social and economic groups co-exist, building a mutually dependent relationship with nature for centuries to come. This is what we mean by Forests for All Forever, and with the support of our members, we intend to live by it.


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About Kim

Kim Carstensen
Kim Carstensen

Kim is the Director General of the Forest Stewardship Council, a position he has held since October 2012. He was selected to succeed Andre de Freitas with the unanimous support of the FSC Board of Directors, who recognised that Kim’s proven track record as a global leader within the environment and development sectors makes him extremely well-suited to consolidate FSC’s position as a global leader in responsible forest certification.

Copyright: Kim’s image (black/white) with thanks to Morten Holtum.

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