Georgia-Pacific, the nation's largest manufacturer of plywood, is making a move to green up its operations. After seven long years of discussions with environmental groups and consumers, the supplier of retail giants like Home Depot and Lowes has agreed to not buy timber from environmentally sensitive areas, and to discourage landowners from clearing hardwood forests.
Because the pact is entirely voluntary, it's not legally binding. If Georgia-Pacific fails to meet its goals, the only thing it will lose is pride. But the fact that it has agreed to follow the new rules is a sign that industry and environmentalists can come to terms in a win-win situation.
A central tenet of the agreement states that Georgia-Pacific will not purchase pine fiber from plantations that previously existed as natural hardwood forests. This process of conversion turns hardwood forests into domestic plantations, with ill effects on natural wildlife habitat. The agreement will also seek to label geographic areas as endangered forests and special areas not to be logged, based on a scoring system that accounts for endangered species and public access among other criteria.
According to the company's president, "We continue to believe it is possible to operate in a way that is environmentally responsible and also economically sound."
Yeah, no kidding.
Photo: The Cypress Swamp in northeastern North Carolina, one of the areas to be mapped and protected by Georgia-Pacific. (Dogwood Alliance)