Forests matter!

Sustainably managed forests and plantations play a vital role in mitigating climate change and safeguarding biodiversity, the two big challenges of our time. We're determined to be part of the solution to these challenges. Here we explain why and how.

Why forests matter

The importance of forests can be seen in their contribution to the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) which are essentially a blueprint to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all.

Forests act as a source of food, medicine and fuel for more than a billion people (SDG 1: No Poverty). Forests and trees support sustainable agriculture by, for example, stabilising soils and climate, regulating water flows, providing shade, shelter, and a habitat for pollinators and the natural predators of agricultural pests. When integrated into agricultural landscapes, forests and trees can increase agricultural productivity (SDG 2: Zero Hunger). Approximately 75% of the world’s accessible freshwater comes from forested watersheds (SDG 6: Clean Water and Sanitation).

Overall, forests supply about 40 per cent of global renewable energy in the form of wood fuel (SDG 7: Affordable and Clean Energy). Some studies suggest that forests and trees may provide around 20 per cent of income for rural households in developing countries, both through cash income and by meeting subsistence needs. Non-wood forest products provide food, income, and nutritional diversity for an estimated one in five people around the world, notably women, children, landless farmers and others in vulnerable situations. (SDG 8: Decent Work and Economic Growth). 

Acting as carbon sinks, forests absorb the equivalent of roughly two billion tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2) each year (SDG 13: Climate Action). To put this into perspective, in 2020, global energy CO2 emissions were estimated at 31.5 billion tonnes.

In addition to helping to respond to climate change and protect soils and water, forests hold more than three-quarters of the world’s terrestrial biodiversity (SDG 15: Life on Land). This means that deforestation has serious negative impacts on biodiversity and climate change. Sappi’s business depends on forests. As forests are directly or indirectly linked to all of the SDGs, be it about poverty mitigation or gender equality, this reliance is both an opportunity and a responsibility.

Our opportunity is to invest and promote healthy forests both for our benefit and the myriad of benefits they deliver to the planet. Our responsibility is to ensure that our reliance on forests does not come at the expense of other products and ecosystem services that forests provide. With our strong commitment and expertise in forestry, we believe that sourcing and using wood sustainably and responsibly is part of the solution, not the problem.