Open Letter of Concern Regarding RAN’s Support for Ancient Forest Logging, and Notification of Impending Campaign

October 4, 2007
Mr. Michael Brune
Executive Director
Rainforest Action Network
221 Pine Street, 5th Floor
San Francisco, CA 94104 USA
mbrune@ran.org
Re: Open letter of concern regarding RAN's support for ancient forest logging, and notification of impending campaign
Dear Mr. Brune,
I am writing on behalf of EcoInternet's global ancient forest protection network to express grave concern with Rainforest Action Network's (RAN) continued support for “sustainable” first time logging of ancient forests (defined as primary and old-growth forests). And to inform you that we intend to intensify our “End Ancient Forest Logging” campaign, targeting RAN until your organization disavows industrial first time logging of primary and old-growth forests and joins efforts to end industrial logging of all such remaining ancient forests.
As the largest, most visible rainforest campaigning organization in the United States; we are extremely distressed at your failure to embrace the current groundswell of concern regarding climate change and the major role ancient forest protection, including but not limited to rainforests, has in its mitigation. RAN is actively impeding a broad based, international movement to end ancient forest logging as a keystone response to global warming by clinging to old failed forest conservation initiatives, and continues to issue misleading clichés regarding industrial logging of ancient forests contributing to environmental protection.


RAN continues to make false, scientifically indefensible, statements on your web site and within campaign materials regarding the purported environmental benefits of FSC certification of ancient forest logging. A prominent example can be found on your “Old Growth” page at http://ran.org/what_we_do/old_growth/, where under “Good Wood” you state: “Wood certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) is sustainably obtained …” No one, not even FSC, suggests certified logging of primary and old-growth forests is environmentally or ecologically sustainable, claiming only it is “responsibly managed”.
Further, RAN suggests prominently on your home page at http://www.ran.org/ that you are for both “protection” and “sustainable logging” of ancient forests. Certified industrial scale first time logging of ancient rainforests is not “protection” by any reasonable definition. And it is certainly not ecologically sustainable. You appear to be confusing preservation with conservation of ancient forests. RAN's approach to forest protection based upon reforming industrial ancient forest logging is outdated, and not based upon ecological science or requirements for global ecological sustainability. It fails to seize the moment of heightened public concern with climate change and global ecological issues in general, and push for protection of all ancient forests as global ecological reserves based upon payments for avoided deforestation and support for small scale, community based eco-forestry activities. The FSC was a great idea gone bad; as it has been usurped by the interests of large scale, commercial logging. We now know all ancient forests are of High Conservation Value; yet, ancient forest logging is most of FSC's future growth.
We are great admirers of past work on behalf of rainforests by RAN, but are distressed by your organization's current direction. In addition to misguided and misleading support that greenwashes continued industrial development of ancient rainforests, RAN has all but stopped doing rainforest campaigning. For the last couple years, it has been difficult to find any trace of current rainforest news of pure rainforest campaigning by RAN on your web site. Rainforests are more in need of protection than ever before yet RAN has essentially discontinued its direct efforts on their behalf. Your recent agri-business campaign is a good start at revamping your lapsed efforts, yet this is but one aspect of rainforest destruction, and it appears you are going it alone rather than working with those active in this arena for years.
While your upcoming “Rainforest Revel” event will undoubtedly be entertaining, RAN has lost their edge in regard to rainforest protection work. We are not convinced that seeing Bob Weir jam on his 60th birthday is translating into rainforest protection, though it certainly is cool. Could it be that throwing good parties, mixing with celebrities, while proposing feel good inadequate policies — such as we can industrially log ancient forests and protect them too — is more important than espousing policies adequate to sustain rainforests while protecting the climate and achieving global ecological sustainability? RAN clearly understands the gravity of looming global heating, and has staked out rigorous positions on ending the use of coal, yet has failed miserably to do likewise for ancient forests. Is RAN capable of reflection and change of strategies when current ones are shown to be ineffective?
I am writing to you to inform you that Rainforest Action Network has become a primary target of EcoInternet's campaign to end ancient forest logging. This disagreement regarding the desirability of logging ancient forests — be it falsely labeled sustainable, certified or ecosystem management — has gone beyond being a difference of opinion on how best to save the world's rainforests to one of ending RAN's damaging misrepresentations and falsehoods. What started out as a few blog entries and essays has now become a full global campaign to change RAN's forest protection policies. We will not let RAN sell-out any further ancient forests for industrial logging such as tragically occurred in British Columbia, Canada.
Consider yourselves “called-out” on your failed rainforest protection policies. We will be actively informing the public, your members, donors and board members of inaccuracies and misstatements in your rainforest protection campaign work; and encouraging them to stop supporting your work until such time as these are remedied. Tens of thousands of people in over 100 countries around the world have already sent over a million protest emails to environmental groups greenwashing ancient forest logging. The full focus of these efforts will now be directed at RAN. We have secured funding and have a number of disruptive non-violent actions readied for such an effort.
It is hoped that this open letter will avert this full out campaign. To do so, we demand from you:
1.) RAN must disassociate itself publicly from any further support for any industrial scaled logging, certified or otherwise, of primary and old-growth forests.
2.) Begin developing a rigorous rainforest campaign, linking full preservation and small scale community based eco-forestry activities that protect large, intact and contiguous rainforests with climate protection; similar in scope and ambition to your coal campaign.
3.) Removal of all scientifically misleading statements from RAN web site and campaign materials falsely suggesting that FSC certified ancient forest logging is “sustainable”; and that “sustainable logging” of ancient forests is compatible with their protection. Noting your web server is currently down, we hope you are doing this now given past expressions of concern.
We very much hope that RAN will successfully reform itself and its message to harness the huge wave of increasing climate change and rainforest awareness sweeping the globe. Together we hope to work with you to develop and achieve rainforest policy that contributes significantly to stopping climate change, that helps to equitably meet local needs, while beginning the process of identifying rainforest policies sufficient to achieve global ecological sustainability.
Warm regards,
Dr. Glen Barry
President
EcoInternet, Inc.
P.O. Box 433
Denmark, WI 54208
USA
GlenBarry@EcologicalInternet.org
+1 920 776 1075 phone

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11 Responses

  1. Brant says:

    Glen, I wish that you would have given us a call (or returned my phone calls) or at least send a personal email (or respond to my emails) before flooding our inboxes. We share your concerns with the FSC, and seem to disagree about how best to address those concerns. Seems like a reasoned debate on the merits would be a better approach than this.
    -Brant Olson, Old Growth Campaign Director, Rainforest Action Network (bolson at ran dot org)
    RESPONSE: I have never received an email from you Brant on these matters, and recall one phone call a long time ago. Perhaps RAN could have responded in writing to the many, many expressions of concern in the past. The ball is now clearly in your court. I await Mr. Brune's response.

  2. Mike Brune says:

    Hi Glen,
    This is a good campaign, and a great letter. Let's definitely talk.
    Next week is bad for me, as we're launching a new campaign that I think
    you'll like. Sometime early in the week of October 15? I'll bring in one of our campaigners, Brant Olson.
    Mike Brune
    Rainforest Action Network

  3. Amy says:

    I'm with you all the way!
    Sincerely,
    Amy

  4. Jason says:

    Not Bad. I have been a member of ran for the past 17 years. They did use to
    work more on tropical rainforest issues in the past. Ex. The Penan tribe of
    S.E. Asia. I do like the change with the Bio Fuel campaign for Brazil. The
    current issue of National Geographic has a interesting article on this. I am
    with you on this wood label campaign. You can't trust these big logging
    companies. You might want to address your concerns write to the top. Founder
    of RAN Randy. Get all the facts you can on this issue. Use this on them .
    This is how you will get them to change. For peace in the forest. Jason
    theloraxelf.

  5. Amy says:

    I'm with you all the way!
    Sincerely,
    Amy
    RESPONSE: Thank you Amy. The message is getting through, the campaign to end ancient forest logging growing, and RAN has already scheduled a meeting to discuss our demands.
    Regards,
    Glen

  6. Deane says:

    Dear Mr. Brune,
    What a tragedy you are in how you've forced RAN to focus on Coal and energy issues and then even have the nerve to consider changing the name of RAN to better reflect your current campaigns? I'm sure forest defenders of credibility and integrity could come up with some great new names for the new RAN.
    You know, I was at ELAW when you made your first speech as Executive Director of RAN, back when RAN as an organization meant something in the forest defense movement. If I knew then what I know now I would of stood up and pushed you off the podium then and there.
    And what have you become now? You've become a rubber stamp that makes it more legitimate for industry to destroy the last remnants of ancient forest across the world…
    You Mr. Brune, deep down inside, you know the truth of the wrong you've done, your own conscience eats away at you everyday no matter how hard you try to rationalize it. And whenever you see ancient forest destroyed and you want to do something about it just realize you as the leader of RAN have again and again led the environmental movement in the opposite direction of saving rare ancient forests.
    Your total failure at leading RAN's once great ability at defending the last intact rainforests of the world is an
    Albatross of shame I will do my best to make sure everyone forever knows is carried around your neck

  7. Deane says:

    Dear all,
    So what is credible forest certification anyways? Don't we have to define this, don't we have to establish this? Maybe a handful of us could get together and one day care for even more than the 226 million acres that FSC is currently exploiting.
    Anyone want to work on this with me?
    Could y'all please offer some feedback to what credible forest certification is?
    To me credible certification:
    1) Captures and stores carbon for centuries not just decades
    2) Sustains unique cultures that subsist on forest resources in non-industrial, non-degrading ways
    3) Focuses on recovering all known aspects of ecologic functionality
    4) Focused not on making money but on restoring habitat of threatened species
    5) Shielded from overly-consumptive industrial-based economic paradigms
    6) Is a series of restrictions that become increasingly stringent as human knowledge of eco-harms increases
    7) Is ultimately leaving the land fully stocked for future generations who are not yet living
    8) Is funded in ways that doesn't create conflicts of interest (i.e.: certifiers not paid for by the certified)
    9) Preserve the most untrammeled areas and recovers degraded lands around these areas as the highest priority
    10) Is morally and legally defensible not just in terms of human laws, but in terms of natural laws
    Please offer some insight and viewpoints as to what's missing or what needs to be left out? I'd love to start a new career creating a new far more credible type of forest certification, but it's going to take many of us working together to make it successful. So please offer your opinion, as well as the role you'd most like to play in this developmental process.
    Be well, Deane
    http://www.peacefromtrees.org
    RESPONSE: I think ecologically credible forest certification would by definition have to be barred from primary and old-growth forests; and be limited to regenerating and planted mixed age/species forests.
    Dr. Glen Barry

  8. Dan says:

    Since deforestation and land use change is approximately one fifth of anthropogenic global net carbon emissions annually, forestry has a key role in any adequate response to climate change. I suggest the following overall "vision" which I hope the diverse interests in the world can eventually agree upon:
    A Climate Change Vision — "A Goal is a vision with a deadline"
    1. Capping world Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions by 2020
    1.1 No net global deforestation by 2020
    1.1.1 Including no loss of ancient forests
    2. Avoiding 3 degree centigrade increase in Global temperature
    2.1 By decreasing GHG emissions at least 50% by 2050 from 1990 levels
    2.1.1 With approximately 70 – 80% GHG emission reductions from 1990 levels in industrial countries
    2.1.2 By phasing out of emissions from coal fired power plants.
    2.1,3 By increasing of renewable energy (no reliance on or increase in nuclear power)
    2.1.4 By increasing reforestation toward some agreed upon target increase by 2020.
    2.1.5 Including continued no loss of ancient forests
    Dan

  9. Wanda says:

    Why not hemp? And I don't understand how they can claim being carbon neutral…
    http://www.socialfunds.com/news/release.cgi/9794.html
    10/01/2007: Press Release from Neenah Paper
    You Can Buy Virgin Paper and Help Protect The World's Forests
    STARWHITE(R) Papers Now North America's First FSC-Pure Labeled Brand; Also Green-E Certified and Carbon Neutral
    (CSRwire) ALPHARETTA, GA. – October 1, 2007 – You can buy virgin paper and still support responsible forest management. That's the takeaway from Neenah Paper's latest environmental certification.
    The company's flagship STARWHITE Brand is now the first paper in North America to meet the requirements for labeling as FSC Pure. The FSC Pure label means the paper is made only with virgin fiber that comes from a forest certified by the Forest Stewardship Council.
    STARWHITE, known for its “Whites for All Occasions,” is also now 100 percent Green-e certified and Carbon Neutral.
    “Being green and buying virgin fiber aren't mutually exclusive,” says Gabe Bolton, the U.S. Chain of Custody Coordinator for SmartWood, the certification arm of the Rainforest Alliance. “Virgin fiber is still a significant requirement. In fact, buying FSC Pure fiber can be a more environmentally friendly choice because you can't always know where post-consumer waste has come from. However, with fiber labeled FSC Pure, you can be assured of where it comes from – an FSC-certified forest.”
    Neenah is introducing an exciting addition to the brand, a “Soft Touch” finish that will be available in the Sirius and Natural colors on a 110 lb. basis weight Cover sheet. Joining the existing palette of four whites that includes Sirius (98+ brightness blue white), Tiara, Archiva and Natural, will be four pearlescent offerings: Stardust, Flash White, Flash Pearl and Flash Natural in both smooth and vellum.
    “It wasn't that long ago that people thought offering this kind of paper would be very difficult to achieve,” says Bolton. “The interest in FSC Pure papers is obviously growing. Neenah Paper has taken another commendable step forward in helping to protect the world's forests.”
    Why Virgin Fiber: Seeing the Forest for the Trees
    Wood-based papers can only be recycled four times (1) before the fibers deteriorate, necessitating the use of virgin pulp.
    According to Greg Maze, Senior Brand Manager for Neenah Paper, “We, as a country, recycle only about 51 percent of what we use. There is a shortage of paper that is recycled from post-consumer waste. That means we are ultimately dependent on the forests for paper. It takes approximately 480 trees to produce 40,000 pounds of virgin paper and those trees can filter 1.2 million pounds of carbon dioxide over their lifetime. Neenah views it as our responsibility to support efforts to ensure the replanting and reforesting of trees that are crucial to preventing climate change, combating air pollution and maintaining forest biodiversity, such as using FSC certified fiber.”
    Through its certification process, FSC works to independently verify that forests are well managed. The process evaluates social, environmental and economic factors involved in forestry operations and tracks the fiber that results through all steps of production (the chain of custody) until they reach the end-user. This ensures that only fiber meeting the stringent standards of the FSC are used in producing end products that proudly carry the label FSC Certified.
    Carbon Neutral
    As a member of the Chicago Climate Exchange (CCX(R)), Neenah voluntarily committed to reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions by six percent below its baseline by 2010. The CCX is the world's first and North America's only voluntary but legally binding greenhouse gas emissions reduction, registry and trading program.
    Neenah is exceeding target reductions and is offsetting 100 percent of the emissions associated with the manufacturing of STARWHITE(R) Papers, now a carbon neutral brand.
    Green-e Certified
    STARWHITE is also made entirely with renewable energy, which is an alternative to energy derived from fossil fuels such as wind, solar, low-impact hydro and biomass. Green-e is the nation’s leading independent certification and verification program for renewable energy products
    Neenah Paper has committed to purchasing over 48 million kWh of Green-e certified renewable energy annually from the Wisconsin Energy Corporation subsidiary We Energies' Energy for Tomorrow program. By supporting its local utility, Neenah Paper is directly offsetting the production of electricity from fossil fuels in Wisconsin, growing the utility's renewable energy program, directly increasing demand for renewable energy resources and reducing local air pollution.
    We Energies' is one of only nine utility renewable energy programs certified as Green-e in the country. For the fifth straight year, it has been ranked among the nation's top 10 green energy programs, according to the U.S. Department of Energy's National Renewable Energy Laboratory.
    About Neenah Paper
    Neenah Paper manufactures and distributes a wide range of premium and specialty paper grades, with leading positions in many of its markets and well-known brands such as CLASSIC(R), ENVIRONMENT(R), STARWHITE(R), NEENAH(R), ESSE(R) and other fine brand names. Neenah Paper is a proud consumer of Green Energy and is a U.S. EPA Green Power Partner. Neenah also manufactures many brands carrying the Green-E, Green Seal and Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certifications. For more information, call 1-800-558-5061 and press “5” or visit the web site at http://www.neenahpaper.com.
    About Neenah Green
    Neenah Green is Neenah Paper's initiative to alleviate climate change by using cutting-edge environmental technologies to reduce its carbon footprint and by providing customers with a variety of sustainable choices. A member of the Chicago Climate Exchange (CCX(R)) and the EPA Green Power Leadership Club, Neenah is forging new ground in the environmental arena. The environmental leader's innovative approaches to sustainability include the use of Green Steam and Green-e certified renewable energy to power its mills and manufacture several of its paper brands. Through these efforts alone, Neenah has reduced natural gas consumption by 80 percent annually and has decreased carbon dioxide emissions by 150,000 metric tons, the equivalent of planting 250,000 tree seedlings. In addition to manufacturing a range of recycled offerings, Neenah also produces an FSC-Pure certified brand made from 100 percent FSC-certified virgin pulp. This brand, STARWHITE(R), has also achieved carbon neutral status. For more information about Neenah Green, call 1-800-558-5061 and press “5” or visit the web site at http://www.neenahpaper.com.
    (1) Jim Motavalli, The Paper Chase, http://www.emagazine.com/view/?1735, E/The Environmental Magazine online, May/June 2004, Volume XV, Number 3

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