Conservation International & SC Johnson invest in Ecuador's rainforest to offset climate impacts

04/12/04

$50,000 contribution will help combat global warming and protect biodiversity through reforestation

A first for consumer packaged goods manufacturers, SC Johnson has made a $50,000 contribution to Conservation International's Conservation Carbon program to fund project work that will offset the carbon impacts associated with the printing and distribution of every SC Johnson Public Report dating back to 1991 as well as office paper for the past two years. Conservation International will use this investment to continue its work with the Jatun Sacha Foundation, an Ecuadorian conservation organization, to combat global warming, protect the regions' biodiversity and support local communities through the reforestation of degraded forests in northwest Ecuador.

SC Johnson's commitment will support the restoration of up to 45 acres of degraded forests along the buffer zone of Ecuador's Mache Chundul Ecological Reserve through the planting of up to 15 native hardwood tree species. As this regenerated forest grows, it will absorb 5,000 tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) over the next 30 years, while providing habitat protection and benefits to local communities. Scientists have linked the rising levels of human-induced carbon dioxide and other "greenhouse gases" -- from power plants and other industries -- as a leading cause of the destructive effects of global warming.

"SC Johnson has taken a real leadership position in recognizing the value of offsetting the carbon emissions for its annual reports," said Peter Seligmann, chairman and CEO of Conservation International. "We hope that other companies move toward offsetting their carbon impacts by investing in land-based projects that not only deal with the issue of global warming, but also focus on habitat protection and benefits for local communities. SC Johnson's commitment demonstrates that the private sector can be a powerful force in protecting the environment."

The Mache-Chindul Ecological Reserve is a 300,000-acre ecological reserve established by Ecuador's Ministry of the Environment in August 1996 and contains the Laguna de Cube which was declared a "Wetland of International Importance" by the Ramsar Convention of Wetlands in 2002. These types of restoration efforts add another layer of protection to this critical remnant of Ecuador's coastal rainforest that is home to a number of unique plant and animal species, including the jaguar, several small cat species, the long wattled umbrella bird, the giant anteater and the threatened mantled Howler monkey.

"It is our responsibility as a global company to make good choices for business and the environment," said SC Johnson Chairman Dr. Fisk Johnson. "From our efforts to reduce carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions by 32,000 tons per year in Southeast Wisconsin to the acres of rainforest we are helping save in Ecuador, we are committed to operating responsibly and successfully so that we may help sustain the planet for future generations."

Reforestation and forest protection are a key component of CI's larger conservation strategy within the Choco-Manabi Conservation Corridor, which runs through the coastal areas of Northern Peru, Ecuador, Colombia and southern Panama. This region is classified by scientists as a biodiversity hotspot. A preponderance of species diversity is found exclusively within the earth's 25 biodiversity hotspots, which combined, cover a very small percentage of the Earth's land surface. Each biodiversity hotspot has already lost the majority of its original species habitat, and the remainder faces imminent threat of further destruction.

Currently, less than one percent of Ecuador's coastal rainforest remains intact. Coastal Ecuador has been slowly degraded over the last 35 years by a trend of timber extraction followed by agriculture. Timber operations, both licensed and illegal, have slowly taken the most valuable species out of the forest. Once timber roads are put into place, the forests are often subject to destructive slash-and burn agriculture practices used to clear the unutilized fields for agriculture. Unfortunately, due to these poor farming practices may of these lands become unproductive in a few years and are then abandoned. The result is degraded soils, resulting in erosion and destroyed watersheds.

Healthy, intact forests store carbon taken from the atmosphere and thus play a unique role in mitigating the harmful effects of climate change. Global deforestation accounts for 20 percent of the annual emission of greenhouse gases. Wide-scale deforestation is fueling climate change and biodiversity loss, and is expected to greatly accelerate biodiversity loss and species extinctions. Land-used based carbon offset projects are designed to implement actions that simultaneously address global warming and species extinctions.

SC Johnson's contribution to Conservation International's Conservation Carbon program is part of an ongoing partnership between the two organizations to find practical solutions to conserve the earth's biodiversity. Dr. Fisk Johnson, SC Johnson Chairman, has been serving on the Executive Committee for CI's Center for Environmental Leadership in Business for the past three years, and CI's Board of Directors over the past two years. SC Johnson is also a member of CI's Business and Biodiversity Council, a community of companies committed to leveraging their business experience and resources to conserve biodiversity.

Source: Eurekalert & others

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