GLOBAL - Companies urgently need to act to reduce their forest footprints, according to Forest Footprint Disclosure (FFD).

FFD's third annual review, published today, cites the risks and opportunities facing companies that, knowingly or unknowingly, cause deforestation through the use of forest risk commodities such as timber, cattle products, soy, palm oil and biofuels.

The ongoing participation of leading businesses in the disclosure scheme demonstrates that they recognise the operational, reputational and regulatory challenges they are exposed to, as well as the potential benefits of addressing them, according to the report.

FFD chairman Andrew Mitchell said: "While FFD welcomes the new disclosers this year, the time to act is now. There is a commercial imperative, and the risks to the world's forests are too great to wait.

"More companies need to wake up to the risks deforestation presents in their portfolios. Who wants to finance the destruction of life on earth, especially when it undermines wealth creation itself?"
FFD praised those companies involved in its third disclosure report and particularly welcomed the addition of big brand names such as Johnson & Johnson, Tesco UK and The Walt Disney Company.

The global reach of FFD has also expanded, with a significant increase in the participation of companies from developing markets.

FFD noted that Brazilian company Grupo André Maggi was a sector leader in this year's review, while also citing greater participation from North American companies, with Nike and Kimberly-Clark leading their respective sectors.

UK companies performed well, filling half of the sector leader spots, with British Airways, Drax Group, Greenergy International, Marks and Spencer, J Sainsbury and Reed Elsevier all achieving recognition for the second consecutive year.

However, it was not all good news - the review highlights the ongoing lack of engagement by leading oil and gas companies.

BP, Chevron, ExxonMobil, ConocoPhillips, Royal Dutch Shell, Total and Valero Energy all failed to disclose in 2011 for the third year, and Petrobas - which was first invited to participate in 2010 - for the second. 

Speaking at the launch of the report, Theodore Roosevelt IV, managing director at Barclays Capital and chair of the Pew Center on Global Climate Change, said: "Together, we need to act to restore and maintain the world's natural capital.

"The debate is moving on from the value of forests to the economic and business case for protecting them.

"Leading companies around the world have realised that eliminating deforestation from their operations and supply chains improves their sustainability and resilience and that it makes good business sense."