GLOBAL - Sixteen investors worth $2.2trn (€1.5trn) have thrown their weight behind an initiative calling on businesses to disclose what they describe as their ‘forest footprint'.

The Forest Footprint Disclosure (FFD) Project will send a questionnaire to 150 companies in the Fortune Global 500 and FTSE 350, as well as 50 other companies which could potentially have a high impact on forests.

The results of the questionnaire will be made available to endorsing investors and summarised in an annual report, the first of which will be produced in January 2010. Companies in the report will be identified as best in class - those that have identified innovative strategies for managing their risk - and those that have declined the request to disclose their forest footprint.

The FFD project believes that deforestation driven by commercial activities can create a valuation risk for companies and investment portfolios through regulatory, environmental and reputation risks. It views disclosure as the first step in enabling companies to identify how and where deforestation can be reduced and driven out of their operations.

"2009 is a big year for forests with imminent billion dollar funding mechanisms and new regulations likely to make deforestation an expensive pursuit for commodities companies," said Andrew Mitchell, chair of the FFD Project steering committee.

"At the same time the public are starting to wake up to the fact that they are, in effect, eating the forest through the everyday products they buy, so businesses are running the risk of losing the confidence of both their investors and their customers if they don't act now," he added.

The investors endorsing the FFD Project are:

All Pensions Group (APG), Aviva, Climate Change Capital, Crédit Agricole Asset Management Group (CAAM Group), Dexia Asset Management, EBG (Environmental Business Group) Capital, The Environment Agency Active Pension Fund, ETICA SGR, F&C Investments, Generation Investment Management, Hazel Capital, Hermes Equity Ownership Services, Rathbone Greenbank Investments, The Cooperative Asset Management, Threadneedle, and Triodos Bank.

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