WWF and Corporations Promote Tiger-Safe Procurement Policies

GLAND, Switzerland, January 31, 2011 (ENS) – As the Year of the Tiger comes to a close with the lunar New Year February 14, the global conservation group WWF and a group of conservation-minded companies today asked all corporations to ease their impact on tiger habitats by responsible procurement of wood, paper, palm oil, coffee, and other commodities.

By moving supply chains towards credibly certified sources, companies producing commodities can ensure that they are not contributing to the habitat loss that endangers tigers in the wild, WWF said.

Whereas 100 years ago there were an estimated 100,000 tigers, today there are fewer than 3,200 wild tigers anywhere in the world. Considered critically endangered, since the last Year of the Tiger in 1998, tigers have lost 40 percent of their habitat and today occupy only seven percent of their historic range.

Palm oil plantation, Riau province, Sumatra, Indonesia. (Photo courtesy WWF)

“With as few as 3,200 tigers left in the wild, there is an urgent need to save this species from the brink of extinction and we need action from government and industry alike,” said Mike Baltzer, leader of WWF’s Tigers Alive initiative. “Conversion of forest habitats for palm oil, fiber and timber products increasingly threatens the survival of wild tigers.”

Unsustainable practices in the timber and palm oil industries are two of the leading causes of tiger habitat conversion, Baltzer said.

Credible certification offers a compromise between the needs of this endangered species, local industries and the global demand for the high value products found in tiger landscapes.

The certification process begins with producers and continues through the chain of custody, inspecting and tracking forest and agricultural products to ensure they have been grown, harvested and traded according to a strict set of environmental, social and economic guidelines.

Young tiger in Indonesia near a location where bulldozers cleared the forest, October 12, 2010. (Photo by WWF-Indonesia/Tiger Survey Team)

Efforts to find sector-based solutions, including the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil and the Forest Stewardship Council for wood and paper, “need to be pursued with more vigor if we want tigers to survive in places like the Indonesian island of Sumatra,” Baltzer said.

The Sumatran tiger is the most critically endangered tiger subspecies in the world, with fewer than 400 individuals left in the wild. They are only found on the Indonesian island of Sumatra, where they are hunted for the black market and where their habitat is rapidly being lost to agricultural and logging operations.

Engaging with 285 companies across the forest products sector, WWF’s Global Forest and Trade Network is helping companies pursue credible certification and implement responsible purchasing, removing unknown and unwanted wood or fiber, such as illegally harvested wood, while pursuing an increasing volume of credibly certified material.

A group of companies from WWF’s Global Forest and Trade Network, including HP and Tetra Pak, pledged to support tiger conservation by signing the Corporate Tiger Declaration.

The declaration states, in part, that the companies will, “Strive, through our business practices, to avoid or minimize impacts of our natural resource sourcing on tiger habitat by implementing responsible purchasing policies and, where possible, to improve landscapes for wild tiger populations.”

The technology company HP, with a portfolio that spans personal computing, software and printing, sells more than 280,000 tons of paper annually. HP joined the Global Forest and Trade Network in October 2009, committing to increase the amount of responsibly-harvested fiber used in its paper products and sold globally. HP set a target of 40 percent of its paper sales from Forest Stewardship Council-certified or post-consumer recycled sources by 2011.

An inspector in Vietnam examines wood certified by the Forest Stewardship Council. (Photo courtesy WWF Vietnam)

Tiger Declaration signatories include Adis Pte Ltd, a furniture retailer headquartered in Singapore and operating in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. “As a company operating in several Asian countries, we are well aware of the importance of responsible forestry. GFTN-Vietnam helps us understand the source of our wood supply and select responsible and legitimate forest sources,” said Olivier Roy, Adis’ chief representative in Vietnam. “We hope to become one of the leading businesses in supporting sustainable forestry processes and production.”

The declaration follows the International Tiger Conservation Forum in November 2010 in St. Petersburg, Russia where world leaders from tiger range countries committed to funding and implementing a global recovery plan to double the number of tigers in the wild by 2022.

“We hope that more companies will show their commitment to find solutions for tigers just as the governments did in St. Petersburg,” said Balzer. “We know that corporate based action can make a difference and we need those solutions, that type of action, for tigers now.”

Additional signatories of the Tiger Declaration include Anco Furniture, BKB Hevea Products, Dai Thanh Furniture, Dasso Industrial Group, Forexco, Holzpunkt AG, Khai Vy, Nature Flooring, Power Dekor Group, Ropress Genossenschaft, ScanCom Vietnam, Sommer Holzwerkstatt, Thang Loi Enterprise, Thanh Hoa, Tran Duc Group, Tri Tin Co Ltd, and Truong Thanh.

“Recognizing that the time to act is now, these companies’ commitment to ensuring that their procurement activities do not unwittingly contribute to the destruction of vital tiger habitats is important in reversing the trajectory of dwindling wild tiger populations,” said George White, head of the Global Forest and Trade Network. “By establishing traceability in their supply chains and demanding credibly certified timber and fiber, companies across the forest products industry can do their part to ensure that tigers stand a fighting chance.”

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