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Tom Lindquist, President & COO of Plum Creek Timber Company is calling on the North American forestry sector to come together and share its story of success in sustainability.
More communication is critical to assure customers, as well as to attract investors and the next generation of employees that can build on the accomplishments that have already been achieved.
“The sector’s sustainability performance across the U.S. and Canada is impressive. We need to ensure that others are aware of these successes,” says Plum Creek President and Chief Operating Officer Tom Lindquist.
Lindquist believes the forest industry should do more to communicate its adherence to stringent certification standards and other environmental practices that help to regenerate forests, while protecting trees in sensitive habitats.
“People can get emotional about trees,” says Lindquist. “By engaging with them, we can address their concerns and explain our sustainability practices and the many benefits that working forests provide. For example, not everyone is aware that trees and the wood products produced from them store carbon, which helps mitigate climate change.
Seattle-based Plum Creek says it has planted more than one billion trees over the past 25 years, the impact of which is the equivalent of taking about eight million passenger cars off the road for one year. The company has also managed the natural regeneration of hundreds of millions more trees, and invested more than US$1 billion on improving the health and productivity of its forests.
Plum Creek’s sustainability commitment includes managing its more than six million acres of timberlands across 19 states. The company manages its working forests using sustainable practices to benefit its many stakeholders, which include communities and government officials as well as investors. The company also operates wood products mills in the U.S. Northwest.
Plum Creek is structured as a real estate investment trust (REIT), which trades on the New York Stock Exchange. The company owns and manages timberlands in the U.S. and produces a range of products including lumber, plywood, medium density fiberboard, and related by-products, such as wood chips.
In 1999, Plum Creek became the first private forest landowner to certify all of its timberlands to the Sustainable Forestry Initiative® (SFI). Today SFI has more than 250 million acres certified to the standard, and has more acres certified to a single standard than any forestry certification system in the world.
“Our continued success requires an enduring commitment to long-term environmental stewardship,” says Lindquist.
It’s also a smart business move, driven by a growing number of consumers seeking certified products, as well as investors looking to put their money in companies that are doing right by the planet, and managing their environmental risks.
“Sustainability makes business sense,” says Lindquist. “We are proud that our dividend is sourced from an industry, sector and asset base that is sustainable. Investors are paying attention to resources that are properly cared for and sustainable.”
While the industry has made progress around its environmental goals, the company and the industry can and should do more to communicate its environmental achievements, Lindquist says, especially if it wants to attract and retain the next generation of employees to the sector.
Lindquist believes social media outreach, which caters to Millennials in particular, and grassroots campaigns that touch communities are among the important ways for the industry to communicate its sustainability to these key constituents.