17 July 2008 | Jake Kanter
Wal-Mart has vowed to cut illegal and poorly managed sources of wood from its supply chain by 2013.
The US retail giant will first assess where it sources timber for its furniture products and then focus on all other wood-based goods, such as paper. In addition to cutting out illegal supplies, it aims to stop purchasing from forests of environmental importance and those that are badly managed.
Currently Wal-Mart buys wood from countries including Russia, China and Indonesia, and will look to increase its spend on supplies from credible and certified forests. The retailer said the US buys more timber, pulp and paper than any other country in the world and should play an important role in protecting forests worldwide. The World Bank estimates illegal logging costs governments in developing countries more than $5 billion (£2.5 billion) a year in lost taxes and other revenue.
Wal-Mart has also joined conservation organisation WWF's Global Forest & Trade Network to help promote responsible forest management. Suzanne Apple, vice-president for business and industry at WWF, said urgent action must be taken to ensure wood is purchased responsibly and Wal-Mart's initiative is a positive step.