Saturday 21st March 2020 marks the International Day of Forests and, while the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic means that initiatives to raise awareness are likely not to be at the forefront of people's minds, it’s worth taking a moment to acknowledge the vital role of forests across the globe, particularly in tackling the climate crisis.
According to the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) 2018 Report we have just 12 years to act if we are to keep temperature increases to below 1.5°C.
Although momentum is building against a backdrop of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), action is needed to halt deforestation and improve the resilience of the world’s forests to the impacts of climate change.
The IPCC has highlighted the vital role they play in limiting global warming and we must take a holistic approach that integrates responsible forest management, water stewardship and reducing emissions.
Trees and forests are one of the most effective nature-based solutions to combating climate change. These incredibly diverse ecosystems are the best and most cost-effective carbon-capture technology available. Up to one-third of the annual carbon mitigation needed could be achieved by addressing deforestation and forest degradation.
Forests are key to managing climate change and water
The world’s forests provide vital ecosystem services. They regulate climate and water cycles, provide food, shelter and an income for over a billion people, and are home to roughly 80% of the world’s land-based animal and plant species (FAO, Eleventh World Forestry Congress, ‘Protective and environmental functions of forests’).
Up to 75% of the fresh water used globally for agricultural, domestic, industrial and environmental purposes comes from forests, and 90% of the world’s cities rely on them for their water supply. With more than three quarters of the world’s population facing water insecurity, the management of forests for water is crucial.
Globally, about half of all forest cover has been cleared or degraded. This is a major problem contributing to climate change, biodiversity loss and poverty.
Forests are threatened by growing consumption, infrastructure, and food production. While climate change means that some areas will see a longer growing season, it will also bring about increased losses due to frequency of drought, storms and forest fires, and the expansion of pest outbreaks.
The need for a holistic approach
As countries and companies look for solutions to meet their climate targets and move towards more sustainable development pathways, new and innovative ways to protect forest landscapes are needed.
We all have a responsibility in ensuring forests are protected and managed sustainably. At Mondi, our Working Forest model acknowledges that forests take many forms around the world – from high-yield plantation forests in the south to vast lower-yield boreal forests in the north.
It integrates productive renewable forest sites with effective ecological networks to ensure thriving biodiversity, water and other ecosystem services, with the ultimate goal of maintaining and increasing their natural and social capital.
Managing risks across our operations and supply chain
Our primary wood sourcing regions are South Africa, North West Russia and Europe, and we apply a risk-based approach through our Due Diligence Management System to ensure we source responsibly across our entire supply chain. Of our more than 2million hectares of managed forests in Russia and South Africa, 24% is set aside for conservation, and we plant more than 28 million seedlings each year.
We also want to understand and mitigate the impacts of our industry on fresh water resources across both our manufacturing and forestry operations and are continually identifying opportunities to reduce our water use and safeguard freshwater ecosystems on a landscape level. Since 2014, we have promoted a landscape approach to water stewardship, encouraging individual and collective action across entire water catchments. This means working together with farmers, local government, and industries, who all share a common interest in maintaining freshwater ecosystems and services at the water catchment level.
As we look to the future, we are confident that sustainably managed forests – and responsibly manufactured fibre products – can play a crucial role in managing the climate crisis and meeting society’s need for sustainable packaging and paper solutions.
If you'd like to learn more about Mondi's position on sustainability our Sustainable Development report 2019 will be published on 24 March 2020.
For photos, please access the below link https://mondi.box.com/s/6zf4sc16tqkve5lj0a19nqdzt3pqjgea
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