World Rainforest Movement

National Geographic, forests and plantations

National Geographic is a worldwide known publication dealing with the diversity of landscapes and peoples in the world. According to a renewed vision of Geography, lately the magazine has been paying much attention to environmental issues.

Last January US-based NGOs Earth Culture/Rainforest Woods Coalition addressed the Director of the magazine asking him to launch a responsible paper purchasing programme to demonstrate his commitment to protect the forests and their inhabitants around the world. The letter mentions that the US consumes nearly 20% of all wood products in the world, contributing to the devastation of tropical rainforests in the Amazon and Indonesia, as well as temperate rainforests of Chile, Siberia, and British Columbia. At the same time 1.2 million acres of forests in the southeast region of the US are impacted every year due to the operation of the chip mills to produce pulp for paper. It is denounced that the current level of pulp and paper production in the southeast is unprecedented and is causing massive clearcutting which degrades water quality, landscape, wildlife habitat, local forest-dependent economies, and overall quality of life.

The letter also underscores the unsustainability of tree monocultures in the US and in several regions of the world. According to the US Forest Service, approximately 36% of the native pine forest of the south has already been converted to pine plantations. If this rate goes on, by the year 2020, the Forest Service predicts that 70% of those natural pine forests will have been converted to monoculture plantations to feed the increasing demand for paper. The conversion of native forests to pulp plantations is rampant all over the world, with vast expanses of loblolly and radiata pine, gmelina, and eucalyptus.

Considering the prestige and influence of National Geographic, the company is asked:

– to increase its paper and cardboard recycling efforts and use 100% recycled or agricultural residue, chlorine-free office paper;

– to print the magazine on recycled and agricultural residue fiber, chlorine-free paper by 2000, and

– to reduce its overall paper consumption by making a smaller magazine, whether by reducing ad space, going quarterly, or printing smaller photos by 2001.

Source: Rick Spencer, EarthCulture & Coalition Coordinator, Rainforest Wood Coalition,