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Georgia-Pacific updates its forest policy

Georgia-Pacific LLC announced in November that it is expanding its forest protection and sustainability efforts with an updated policy to better identify and protect endangered forests in the United States, promote conservation of forest diversity and enhance its sustainable forestry and recycling practices.

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"This policy continues our commitment to sustainability in the fiber we source and the products we make," says Jim Hannan, Georgia-Pacific chief executive officer and president. "We continue to believe it is possible to operate in a way that is environmentally responsible and also economically sound. This policy also gives us the opportunity to address issues of increasing interest to our customers and to consumers."

The policy update is the result of ongoing discussions with customers and suppliers and several years of consultation with a number of environmental organizations, including the Rainforest Action Network, the Natural Resources Defense Council and the Dogwood Alliance. In addition, the group worked with the University of Georgia's Dr. Liz Kramer to develop the scientific methodology that is a focus of the updated policy.

Key provisions of Georgia-Pacific's policy include:

  • Working collaboratively to help define and map endangered forests and special areas where the company will not source fiber;
  • Encouraging the conservation of natural hardwood forests through measures to evaluate the existing level of natural hardwood forests and not promoting future conversion of such forests to pine plantations;
  • Continue to not source fiber from the Tongass National Forest in Alaska until roadless areas identified in the 2001 Roadless Area Conservation Rule are permanently protected;
  • Continue requiring loggers to use both mandatory and voluntary state forestry best-management practices;
  • Continue certification of wood and fiber procurement practices and increase the internal rate of post-consumer recycled fiber within the company's total recycled fiber supply system to 50 percent.

"This expanded policy on forest protection and sustainable practices outlines our new commitments, but also reaffirms the sustainable forestry activities and processes we already have in place," says Deborah Baker, vice president of sustainable forestry, environmental and community outreach. "Working with the environmental groups helped us make sure that we had outside input, which we believe helped us formulate a better policy statement."

Georgia-Pacific has long been among the nation's leading manufacturers and suppliers of building products to lumber and building materials dealers and large do-it-yourself warehouse retailers.

This article originally appeared in the January 2011 issue.

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