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Are old growth forests being cut for paper use?

LISTENING STUDY: Some responses indicate that old growth forests are being cut for paper use.

Yes. - Victoria Mills, Project Manager, Corporate Partnerships, Environmental Defense

Old growth forests make up 16% of the virgin tree fiber used each year to make paper products. - Abramovitz 1999 According to the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED), old growth forests remain a significant source of fibre in boreal regions, accounting for 15 percent of total global pulpwood. - Senate Subcommittee on the Boreal Forest, Competing Realities: The Boreal Forest at Risk, Report of the Sub-committee on Boreal Forest of the Standing Senate Committee on Agriculture and Forestry, 1999.

The bulk of ancient forest pulp and paper in the world is produced in Canada. Wood Resources International estimated that in 1993, at least 70% of the raw material processed by the Canadian paper industry came from ancient forests. Much of this ends up as graphic paper and newsprint, consumed in the United States. Russian paper plants rely on ancient forests for 76% of their pulp. - Greenpeace

The United States paper industry is structured almost entirely around wood as the source of fiber. This has resulted in the decimation of our old growth forests. Even today, old growth forests continue to be clearcut to make paper. - New Leaf Paper

Yes, particularly in Canada's boreal forest. - Susan Hammond, Executive Director, Silva Forest Foundation

For every ton of paper produced, two to four tons of trees are brought to the mill, with old growth trees supplying nine percent of that fiber. - Resource Conservation Alliance, Focus on Paper Consumption

It is hard to imagine a poorer use of our natural resources than to have ancient and endangered forests being logged to make disposable paper products. We have already lost 95% of our old growth forests in the US and worldwide nearly 80% have been destroyed or degraded. But ancient forests, like the boreal forests of Canada, and endangered forests, like the native hardwood forests of the southern US, are still being logged and made into paper every day. - The Paper Campaign

Many logging companies over-harvest and target late seral or "old-growth" forests at levels that are not sustainable. . . . Forestry companies preferentially select the oldest stands for harvest because these stands have the greatest tree volume and are at risk of being lost to fire or insect damage. . . . Catalogs, copy paper, lumber, newspapers, magazines, and even toilet paper are made from Canada's old-growth forests. U.S. consumption accounts for about a million acres of clearcuts in the Canadian Boreal every year. - Bringing Down the Boreal, ForestEthics, 2004

LISTENING STUDY: Other responses mention specific organizational policies regarding old growth forests and papermaking.

Boise currently derives an extremely small amount of our wood supply from old-growth forests - less than 1% in 2001. Most of this supply comes from federal lands. Given the direction of federal forest management policy, we expect that percentage to continue gradually to decline. We intend, therefore, to phase out harvesting from old-growth forests by 2004. During that time, we will meet our existing commitments, but we will not make any new commitments to harvest timber from old-growth forests.
     A number of uncertainties make it impossible for Boise to guarantee that no old-growth fiber is used to make our wood and paper products. Wood waste from sawmills used in our papermaking process occasionally may come from mature trees. When we purchase wood chips for papermaking from outside suppliers, we can never be sure about the exact age or size of the trees that the chips came from. - Boise Cascade

Our approach to managing old growth forests is guided by Stora Enso's Principles of Environmental and Social Responsibility for Wood Procurement and Sustainable Forest Management. Stora Enso North America does not purchase wood from protected areas or areas in the process of designation for protection, unless purchases are clearly in line with relevant conservation regulations and goals. When we harvest wood from areas with significant conservation value, we do so in line with official conservation plans. - Stora Enso

Answers will vary depending on whom you ask. The old growth issue has expanded to include endangered forests of all types of ages, species, and sizes. Endangered forests are being cut for paper today, but mostly in less developed countries than the U.S. International Paper does not cut old growth. - International Paper

LISTENING STUDY: Other responses:

Very few old-growth trees in the U.S. are harvested expressly for the purpose of making paper. The reason is that such trees are far more valuable for use in solid wood products, primarily lumber. Sawmill residues, a by-product of lumber production, are in some cases used to make paper, however. In fact, these residues are the primary source of material used to make paper in the western U.S., accounting for over two-thirds of the region's pulpwood production in 1991. - Paper Task Force 1995

Old growth forests are not being cut for paper use in the Northeastern United States. My understanding is that much of the wood harvested in boreal Canada is old growth. This wood makes up a large and growing segment of the U.S. market. - Robert R. Bryan, Forest Ecologist, Maine Audubon

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