How working forests can support people and planet

Today is International Day of Forests – a great opportunity to talk about how we can ensure the future of the world’s forests, for the benefit of a living planet.

To say that forests are important for life is an understatement. We depend on them for food, medicines, shelter, biodiversity, fuel, pulp and paper, jobs, recreation, fresh water, clean air, and even the climate.

The biggest threats to the world’s forests today are deforestation and forest degradation. Both can be drivers of accelerated global warming, loss of biodiversity, and disruption of livelihoods, among other negative impacts.

In my work as Natural Resources Manager for Mondi Group, and in leading the Ecosystem Stewardship workstream of our global partnership with WWF, the team and I work to demonstrate how forestry operations in different natural and socio-economic settings around the world can be sustainable.

A ‘working forest’ aims to ensure long-term availability of a wide range of forest products and services. So that forests are protected and continue to function and provide benefits in the long-term, we have to take into account the entire landscape, with its different land uses and numerous stakeholders.

This landscape approach – a well-designed, multi-layered network of significant conservation areas, plus productive ‘wood harvesting’ areas, linked together in a mosaic landscape – is how we at Mondi practice forestry and is what we advocate for our industry and others.

We call our model the ‘sustainable working forest’, and you can learn more about it in our latest sustainability report.

In productive forest areas, as soon as trees are harvested, young trees are regenerated naturally, or they are planted, if necessary. The young trees are protected from disturbances to allow them to grow to maturity. Soil health and hydration are also managed, to support effective nutrition cycles for the young trees. Consequently, the landscape is a mosaic of different forest stands, with trees of different ages and species.

As long as harvesting does not exceed annual growth, and conservation areas are respected, the forest can thrive and support a continued supply of wood and other forest products and services, without loss of forest area (deforestation) or loss of biodiversity (degradation).
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