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Innovating for the future: the forest and paper industry towards a low carbon economy

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Innovating for the future: the forest and paper industry towards a low carbon economy

May 31, 2010 - 20:53
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TOKYO, May 31, 2010 (Press Release) -"From the forests through to the end products we can provide solutions which are environmentally friendly, renewable and which ensure sustainable growth, and all of which contribute to climate change mitigation and carbon emission reduction". That is the green output of the 51st session of the FAO Advisory Committee on Paper and Wood Products (ACPWP) and the International Council of Forest and Paper Associations (ICFPA). Industry executives, gathered in Tokyo (Japan) on 27 and 28 May 2010, agreed that a green future is not just a major concern of non-governmental organizations and environmentalists; it is also a priority on the agenda of the forest products and paper industry.

"Japan Paper Association (JPA) is delighted to have the opportunity to discuss and exchange opinions with the forestry industry as the host country of the meeting", said Masataka Hayama, President of JPA. "We look forward to a continued exchange and partnership with FAO", continued Mr Hayama. "Wood is a recyclable and renewable material and the life cycle doesn't end when wood is harvested", highlighted Michael Peter, Executive Director of Forestry South Africa. In fact, not only is carbon stored in trees, but, once trees are harvested, not just the end products but the replanted areas as well, continue to store carbon.

"Investors are recognizing the green opportunities inherent in forests and forest products, we would welcome even more investment to the sector", stated Marie S. Arwidson, Managing Director of the Swedish Forest Industries Federation. This underscores the need to see the link between carbon sequestration and forestry. "Another challenge is the common perception that the forest would shrink if it is utilized. The contrary is true", emphasised Michael Peter. "Whenever consumers buy sustainably harvested wood products, they help the forest industry keep the forests vibrant and growing through re-investment and new plantings."

The growing population and the need to mitigate climate change bring an essential role for the world forests. Sustainable management of forests is a prerequisite in meeting the future world demand for products and services, while achieving the low carbon economy. This puts the industry in the centre of the debate, with policies influencing industry development. "For this, the partnership between the industry sector and FAO is so crucial" emphasized Teresa Presas, President of the International Council of Forest and Paper Associations.

"Government policies have an effect in the development of the forest industry. Sustainable future wood supply for this sector will be highly dependent on enabling and predictable policies, reconciling climate change, conservations and competitiveness objectives" said Bernard de Galembert, Forest & Research Director of the Confederation of European Paper Industries (CEPI).

"Energy policy and carbon policy are high priorities for both national governments and international bodies. In this context", stressed Avrim Lazar, President and CEO, Forest Products Association of Canada (FPAC), "FAO has a unique role to play as catalyst of cross-sectoral cooperative measures and facilitator of the debate between the diverse actors and policy makers".

The industry is responding positively to winds of change. It could be the dawn of a new era, and the upcoming International Year of Forests might help catalyze this transformation - with a wealth of opportunities lying ahead, from innovation to diversification. "Let's be future oriented: let's say what the future value sets are, what is it that people will be looking for", concluded the meeting. The forest and paper industry has a lot to offer. Government support and partnership across sectors will be key to facing future challenges.