"Save as WWF, save a tree" is a plug-in enables documents to be disseminated as pdf files that cannot be printed.
It joins the existing global WWF "Think before you print" initiative as one of a number of practical and educational consumer oriented measures to reduce market pressure on the world's forests.
The WWF format, launched yesterday by WWF Germany, advertising agency Jung von Matt and Dederichs Reinecke &Partner, is currently available from www.saveaswwf.com for recent Mac operating systems, with a Windows version following soon.
"About 13 million hectares of forest disappear each year, an area the size of Greece," said the SaveasWWF partners at the Hamburg launch yesterday. "Every minute, important habitats for plants and animals such as orang-utans and elephants are cut down.
" Each tree that's cut down means that another layer of environmental protection is lost.
"So to stop unnecessary printing and encourage a new awareness about the use of paper, we've developed a new, green file format: WWF. A format that can't be printed out. A simple idea that saves trees. Join in.
"Decide for yourself which of your documents don't need printing - and save them as WWF."
The new format already has fast growing Facebook and Twitter followings and a number of companies have started using it to distribute documents.
"Our client's positive response to this initiative is overwhelming" reports Dr Mischa Paterna, CEO of German business and environment consultancy Suncycle.
The Save as WWF and Think before you print initiatives sit with other WWF initiatives designed to to reduce excessive paper consumption. Other key measures to reduce the environmental impact of paper include maximising paper recycling, supporting the choice of Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) labelled papers, and choosing papers with the lowest water and climate impact.
Under the banner of the Global Forest Trade Network, WWF also works globally with many companies engaged in timber and timber products and pulp and paper producers on increasing sustainability in the forest products sector.