As we beckon ever more connectivity in our lives, its (and our) impact on the planet may prove beneficial. Employee rights, Fairtrade concerns and legitimate sourcing of raw material make for a new era of business and political motivations – and accountability. As with the latest press on China’s Foxconn manufacturing and employee relations, so to it is with the volatile and sensitive area of illegal logging and deforestation. Businesses and governments are being forced to acknowledge the ‘paper trail’ of consequences that occur from one mishap to another. For example, the devastating flooding at Christmas in the Philippinesis, of course, weather related, but also connected to deforestation.
The BBC’s Environment correspondent, Richard Black, recently ran a piece on how governments have been helping to eliminate the massive market of illegal logging. This multi-billion dollar global concern is being dealt with by legislation from countries like the US, who demand that outsourced wood be shown to come from legal sources. The EU too, has passed similar laws, and the effect, as reported in the article, has been very positive, “In 2010, a report from the London-based Chatham House think-tank concluded that these and other measures had reduced illegal logging by about a quarter over the preceding eight years.”
Good news. But, obviously the pull of black market money for illegal logging gangs is a mighty lure and one that needs constant diligence, not only from governments but from consumers also. Integrity and equality are words that are no longer kept separate from consumer choice – as some markets continue to flourish (and the need for wood is a perennial), there are also more questions being asked about the source of such products. The choice is there, and so is the information; what is encouraging is that many are willing to pay more these days for ethical products, knowing that the ‘paper trail’ is not a harmful one.