HIGHLIGHT 4 Expanding the Utilization of Sustainable Forest Resources Reinforcing sustainable timber procurement Formulation of a timber procurement action plan

Forest land area is continuing to decrease around the world and as indicated in the SDG goal, is a global-scale problem. According to the Fifth Assessment Report issued by the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change), about 25% of the factors behind climate change are attributable to deforestation. After the Paris Agreement, this concern has grown even stronger. As more people are seeking sustainability in timber procurement, Sumitomo Forestry, with its business operations centered on wood, is contributing to the further promotion of responsible timber procurement by formulating a three-year action plan to realize a sustainable and prosperous society.

Reinforcing Sustainable Timber Procurement Due Diligence at Sumitomo Forestry

Our Company utilizes wood as a renewable natural resource in its business operations and has set out in its Corporate Philosophy to contribute to the realization of a sustainable and prosperous society. We formulated the Timber Procurement Standards in 2005 and the Timber Procurement Philosophy and Policy in 2007 to confirm legality in our timber procurement efforts. Since 2012, we have further promoted responsible timber procurement activities through such efforts as surveys regarding timber procurement sustainability.

On the other hand, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), one of the primary reasons behind deforestation in recent years is the clearing of forests for conversion to farmland and other uses. When procuring timber, in addition to countermeasures against illegal logging, biodiversity of the surrounding environment and the considerations of local residents, we must be concerned about the sustainability of wood and agricultural products from forests that were converted to farmland.

In the 2021 Mid-Term Management Plan that the Sumitomo Forestry Group announced in May 2019, we are promoting as one of our basic policies integrate the ESG with our operations. By our target fiscal year of 2021, in addition to confirming 100% legality, we have set out a goal to handle 100% sustainable timber and with clear-cut timeframes, are working toward better visualization of our initiatives.

Timber produced at the logging site

Checking tags at the interim log yard

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Our Thinking Regarding Sustainable Wood and Wood Products

We define sustainable wood or wood products if they fulfill one or more of the following criteria. Even when legality can be confirmed, for items that do not fulfill our definition of sustainable wood or wood products, we will shift to alternative wood and other such products by fiscal 2021.

  1. Certified timber and pre-certified timber: FSC, PEFC, and SGEC
    (Regardless of CoC connection, we place emphasis on certification at time of production and promote a shift to certified timber)
  2. Timber from plantation forests
  3. Natural timber where forestry management and distribution can be assessed as sustainable. (this does not include timber from conversion forests = timber harvested from natural forests that were converted to farm land such as oil palm plantations)
  4. Recycled timber

In the sustainability surveys of our suppliers, we have made evaluation standards stricter by adding categories about human rights and labor practices. For suppliers with low scores, we request improvement measures and strive to raise the overall level of the entire supply chain. In addition, in the formulation and implementation of our Action Plan, we are working to have dialogue with outside experts and stakeholders, among other efforts, to ensure objectivity.

A QR code tag affixed to the cut end of a log

A QR code tag affixed to the cut end of a log

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Working with Suppliers to Provide Wood with Value

To realize sustainable timber procurement, we must implement initiatives for the entire supply chain, including product development, and this requires the cooperation of all parties, in particular our suppliers. For this reason, when we were re-evaluating our due diligence process, we placed importance on dialogue with our suppliers. Through confirmation that timber does not come from forests that were converted to farmland or other uses, we are actively promoting measures for sustainable forest management, which we hope will lead to long-term stable timber procurement.

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Message from an Outside Expert

One of the core elements of this new three-year Action Plan is the definition of sustainable timber. I think that recognizing natural forest timber that is not explicitly certified timber, so long as forest management has been determined to be sustainable, is a very challenging definition. For that reason, expressing a commitment to exclude timber from forests that have been converted to farmland or other uses, and furthermore, adding human rights and labor practices as evaluation criteria are all in keeping with global trends.

On the other hand, many issues regarding timber procurement and management in Japan still remain, such as the fact that almost all plantation forests are considered sustainable and the wide definition of recycled timber. Sumitomo Forestry is a leading company and I hope they will tackle these and other related issues head on.

Mutai Hashimoto, Forest Programme Adviser, World Wide Fund for Nature Japan(WWF), Deputy Director, Coral Reef Conservation and Research Center

Mutai Hashimoto
Forest Programme Adviser, World Wide Fund for Nature Japan(WWF)
Deputy Director, Coral Reef Conservation and Research Center

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Kikorin plywood Wins an EcoPro Award

Kikorin plywood, an original type of environmentally friendly plywood, is a JAS-compliant product made of at least 50% certified timber and sustainable plantation timber.

Since introducing Kikorin plywood in 2009, Sumitomo Forestry has been returning a portion of the sales to the plantation forest operations in Indonesia, which has grown to a total plantation area of 105ha (approximately 22 times the size of Tokyo Dome stadium). In addition, as a result of the ongoing cycle of planting and harvesting trees, we have been able to contribute to the local region. For example, we have been able to create local employment with our plantation forest operations and contribute to industrial development with income from timber sales and by creating a processed wood business that utilizes plantation timber. Furthermore, we have reduced the burden on natural wood by utilizing plantation timber as a raw material instead.

These initiatives have won high regard and we were awarded honorable mention for the First EcoPro Awards* in September 2018 in Tokyo. We will continue to distribute seedlings to local residents and hold study sessions on afforestation methods and promote a sustainable cycle of plantation forest operations.

* Organized by the Japan Environmental Management Association for Industry. In addition to providing consumers information about eco products, it supports providers, such as companies, support for their various initiatives in an effort to further develop and promote the use of eco products in Japan. Established in 2004 and in fiscal 2018, its Eco Products Awards was renamed the EcoPro Awards.

EcoPro Awards

Kikorin plywood

Kikorin plywood

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Sustainability Report