The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) is hosting the New Generation Plantations (NGP) Annual Meeting in Chile this week. The meeting brings together plantation industry leaders to develop and share the industry’s best sustainable and responsible practices. UPM has been involved in the WWF NGP project since the project was established in 2007. WWF has managed to bring together various bodies, which has resulted in a new and valuable operating culture where sustainability is a common goal.
The theme of this year’s meeting is ‘Plantations for People’. It emphasises the far-reaching impact plantations have on the wellbeing of people. In addition to livelihood and employment aspects, the meeting focuses on practices that encourage the local communities to participate, increase their understanding and create new opportunities for using ecosystem services, the material and immaterial services provided by nature.
The new bioeconomy is all about the sustainable use of renewable natural resources. This is also a key target for UPM globally. At the UPM Fray Bentos mill in Uruguay, the ‘Plantations for People’ principle applies to a large group of stakeholders. Key stakeholders at the core of the business include company employees, customers and investors. Another important group are the parties with whom UPM has a contract on various use of land. Honey production and mushroom projects are interesting examples of developing businesses that are not based on wood but can be developed alongside the core business.
The operations of the UPM Foundation in Uruguay underline the larger role of UPM in society: the foundation supports education, entrepreneurship, employment, health and recreational activities in dozens of villages. In other words, it promotes projects that are not directly related to plantations or the further processing of wood. The ‘Plantations for People’ perspective can be further expanded if we look at the functional roles plantations play: as significant carbon sinks, they are beneficial to the climate and as part of responsible land use they contribute to the protection of indigenous habitats.
Today’s main global environmental trends are related to the scarcity of natural resources, the protection of biodiversity and waters, climate issues and food production. When we look at these trends, the most important question is how we can use land in a responsible way as the global need for wood increases. The practical solutions discussed at the NGP meeting in Chile are one step in the right direction.
Main image: Paul Chatterton, leader for Forest and Climate programme in WWF and Ricardo Methol, Technical Development and Planning Manager, UPM Forestal Oriental in WWF New Generation Plantations annual meeting in Chile.