The scent of freshly cut wood rises through the early morning air as a truck unloads its haul at a paper mill in Tengzhou, China. Still warm and fragrant with resin, the pile of wood chips grows steadily until it nearly reaches the corrugated metal roof.
Keila Hand, who manages WWF-US’s involvement with the pulp and paper industry, sees more than just the wood in front of her: she sees the forests all over the world that have been harvested illegally or irresponsibly to meet escalating demand, in China and elsewhere, for pulp and paper.
“How do mills know if the wood they buy is responsibly harvested?” she asks. “And how do they know if destructive forestry practices caused habitat loss in forests far away?”
As organizers of the China Sustainable Paper Alliance, Hand and Mingming Sun (a full-time pulp and paper sector expert) are visiting producers in targeted regions in China to ask and answer those questions. And, in a multiyear project, WWF and Apple aim to help China reduce its worldwide environmental footprint by producing paper products from responsibly managed forests within its own borders.
The goal: to expand WWF’s work to improve forest management; to amplify demand for paper products from forest sources certified by the Forest Stewardship Council; and to help the Chinese paper sector—the largest in the world—make more responsible decisions about how it purchases the forest products it produces and consumes.