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ACE UK and RSPB study forest biodiversity to inform retailers’ sustainability strategies


As part of their contribution to the UN International Year of Forests, the Alliance for Beverage Cartons and the Environment (ACE) UK and the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) have joined forces to evaluate the wider environmental benefits of sustainable forest management.

This UK-based study, conducted by RSPB, will provide an objective insight into how well-managed forests provide not only renewable raw materials but also a wide range of other benefits, known as “eco-system services”. These include improving biodiversity, preventing soil erosion and protecting against flooding. The study will look at whether additional measures could further improve benefits for biodiversity in a cost-efficient and competitive wood supply system.

Forest planting is likely to increase due to policy pressure for climate change mitigation, as trees absorb CO2 from the atmosphere. This research will highlight management practices that will maximise biodiversity benefits in these new forests.

Richard Hands, ACE UK’s Chief Executive, comments: “Forests have rightly taken centre stage this year, the UN International Year of Forests. Sustainable forest management is of increasing interest to the beverage carton industry’s customers and to retailers, and the industry has made real progress. Cartons made by ACE UK members are increasingly being independently certified as being made with wood from well-managed forests, and our paperboard suppliers have gone to great lengths to ensure that good management practices help to protect biodiversity in the Nordic forests. 

“Now, as part of our commitment to environmental responsibility in our UK market, we are supporting RSPB in gathering evidence of best practice here, as well as understanding what improvements might be made. We look forward to sharing the learnings with our suppliers and others. “

The study will also feed into an international study on biodiversity indicators, being delivered by ACE UK’s sister organisation in Brussels and the RSPB’s international partner, BirdLife. 

Hands continues: “We hope that these studies will not only prove useful to retailers seeking to understand more about forestry and eco-system services, but will encourage others sourcing wood-based materials to recognise the long term environmental benefits of certified, well-managed resources.”

Michael Krause, Head of Funding Development at the RSPB added, “RSPB wants to see all companies making their business and supply chain as sustainable as possible.  When commercial forests are managed well and traceability is ensured, wood fibre can be a useful renewable resource. 

“We are pleased to hear that ACE UK members take their responsibility to the environment very seriously. It’s important that decisions which affect the environment are based on the best information possible, so we welcome the fact they have asked us to carry out this work.  We hope that our research will inform future decisions which will benefit biodiversity.”

The study will be completed later this year.

All round environmental benefits
As well as being made mainly from wood fibre, a natural renewable resource if sourced from responsibly managed forests, beverage cartons have a low carbon footprint and can be easily recycled.

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