We’re waiting for the Home Depot to put forests first

It’s been nine months since Home Depot shareholders voted for the company to increase efforts to eliminate deforestation and forest degradation.


Elena Berd | Shutterstock.com
Aerial bird's eye view drone panorama of green boreal coniferous forest, fresh water lakes and rivers and unpaved road winding through the trees. Summer sunny day, blue sky. Northern Ontario, Canada.

Take Action

The North American boreal forest is critical for our climate, biodiversity and people.

The North American boreal forest is the largest intact ecosystem left on the planet, making it an invaluable habitat for North American species, including Canada lynx, grizzly bears, and wolverines. Disturbances in the boreal forest have endangered more than half of the iconic woodland caribou herds, which are a cornerstone of many Indigenous tribes’ cultures and histories. Furthermore, the boreal forest is a breeding ground for nearly half of all of the bird species in Canada and the United States.

The trees and soil of the North American boreal forest hold as much as 300 billion tons of carbon, which is nearly twice as much as is stored in all the world’s recoverable oil reserves combined. And each year, the forest removes enough carbon from the atmosphere to offset the emissions of 24 million cars.

Despite the boreal’s value to our climate, biodiversity and people, the forest is logged at a rate of 1.5 football fields every single minute. Much of the wood is shipped into the United States and sold as furniture and lumber. Strong corporate wood sourcing policies by U.S. companies could prevent much of the worst damage in the North American boreal forest.

We’re waiting on Home Depot to help protect the boreal forest

In May of 2022, the majority of Home Depot shareholders supported a proposal to increase the company’s efforts to eliminate deforestation and the degradation of primary forests in its supply chains.

Primary forests are forests that are undisturbed by human industry. In the North American boreal forest, primary forests are necessary for the survival of woodland caribou and store the most carbon.

Nine months after the shareholder vote, the Home Depot has made no public announcements about their plans. The company also has not released more information about where they source wood products, unlike their competitor Lowe’s which does disclose their wood sourcing information. 

Students holding photo petition asking home depot to put forests first

Students call on The Home Depot to put forests first.Photo by Sammy Herdman | TPIN

What can the Home Depot do to protect forests?

The remaining intact ecosystems in the boreal forest would have a better chance at preservation if U.S. companies, such as the Home Depot, refused to purchase wood from primary forests. Unmanaged, primary forests compromise only one-third of the North American boreal forest. Because the North American boreal forest spans 1.5 billion acres, the Home Depot and other U.S. companies would still have a whopping 1 billion acres of forest to source from if they committed to leaving the unmanaged, primary forests alone.

Despite the shareholder vote, the Home Depot has made no new commitments to source less wood from primary forests.

Another commitment U.S. timber and furniture companies must make to protect the North American boreal forest is to only source wood from sustainably managed forests by only purchasing wood certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC). ​​There are several third-party certifications that label wood sourced from the North American boreal forest. Although it is not perfect, studies have found that FSC provides the most prescriptive and extensive environmental protection for forests and that the environmental standards required by other certification systems are superficial.

The Home Depot, and its competitor Lowe’s, purchase wood certified by multiple third-party certification systems.

Companies should also implement a policy that protects the free, prior and informed consent (FPIC) on the part of local and Indigenous communities that have ties to the forest. One of the reasons FPIC is important is that overlooking the FPIC of a group that lives closely with the environment is often an indicator that environmental degradation will ensue. FPIC is an especially effective means of protecting forests in the North American boreal forest because many of the Indigenous communities in the boreal, such as the Cree Nation, are outstanding leaders in forest conservation initiatives.

The Home Depot does not have an FPIC policy.

Group of students holding photo petition asking home depot to put forests first

Students call on The Home Depot to put forests first.Photo by Sammy Herdman | TPIN


The Home Depot is the world’s largest home improvement retailer with over 2,300 stores in North America. The Home Depot has the potential to lead the industry in protecting our climate, threatened species, and the communities that rely on our forests. Tell the Home Depot to protect the boreal forest.


Ellen Montgomery

Director, Public Lands Campaign, Environment America Research & Policy Center

Ellen runs campaigns to protect America's beautiful places, from local beachfronts to remote mountain peaks. Prior to her current role, Ellen worked as the organizing director for Environment America’s Climate Defenders campaign. Ellen lives in Denver, where she likes to hike in Colorado's mountains.

Find Out More