Loss of primary forests — old forests that have not been significantly disturbed by human activity — is a critical global environmental problem. Current trends in primary forest logging threaten biodiversity, as well as vital ecological functions such as watershed protection, carbon sequestration and climate stabilization. Illegal logging is prevalent in many of the biologically richest places on Earth, and weak regulations or perverse subsidies often encourage unsustainable timber extraction.

There are growing economic reasons to conserve, rather than log, the world’s remaining primary forests. Public opinion and market preferences increasingly favor alternatives to old-growth wood fiber. There are encouraging indications that society’s future wood fiber needs can be met through responsible management of existing plantations and second-growth forests, combined with efficiency improvements in wood processing and utilization.

The Center’s Forestry program works with leading businesses and environmental organizations interested in the conservation dimensions of industrial timber practices and land use choices. The program works with leading pulp and paper companies to leverage their influence in international markets and policy forums to combat illegal logging and perverse subsidies. In addition, the program designs and demonstrates effective means by which businesses and communities can generate economic returns by maintaining or restoring primary forests.