Blue chip businesses and environmental groups gathered in London last week on the 10th anniversary of the WWF 95+ Group and reaffirmed their commitment to ensuring the protection of the world’s forests through trade in sustainably sourced timber.

The event, which coincided with the 40th anniversary of WWF UK, attracted around 200 delegates and summarised past achievements of both the buyers’ group and the Forest Stewardship Council and future challenges.

Keynote speaker, minister for the environment Michael Meacher, said the government ‘appreciates the tireless campaigning of the WWF 95+ Group and its member com-panies to only buy sustainable timber’, adding that the government was ‘determined to tackle the scourge of illegal logging’. Its aim, he said, was to promote responsible timber procurement policies within the public sector.

Further government weight came in a letter from Tony Blair in which the PM said ‘the government has already committed its central departments and executive agencies actively to seek to purchase timber from legal and sustainable sources, such as those certified as meeting criteria set by the FSC…We have also just announced a new cross-government group on using government procurement to deliver sustainable development’.

The government’s success in promoting sustainable forest management was highlighted during the conference by the WWF’s Gift to the Earth which was awarded to the Forestry Commission and Forest Enterprise. The award marks ‘a globally significant conservation action’ and is in recognition of the certification by the UK Woodland Assurance Standard of the entire 800,000ha Forest Enterprise estate.

A full report on the conference will appear in the December 15/22 issue.

  • Central and local government are failing to deliver on their commitment to buy timber from responsibly managed sources according to a study by the WWF. The view was endorsed by Michael Meacher this week. Speaking on the BBC Radio 4 Today programme this week he admitted government energy consumption and rain forest conservation targets have been missed.