Preserve Our Forests

Lowe’s new forestry report: two steps forward and one sidestep

Lowe's makes new commitments in its December, 2022 Forestry Report.

Forests

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Lowe’s released a new Forestry Report, re-establishing the company as a sustainable leader in its industry.  Lowe’s far outpaces other large-scale home improvement retailers in the transparency of their wood sourcing.

Lowe’s reports that 14% of its wood in 2021 originated in Canada, which houses more than one billion acres of the critically important boreal forest. The Canadian boreal forest stores at least 229 billion tons of carbon and is a refuge for endangered boreal caribou and billions of migratory songbirds. The boreal forest is also home to more than 600 Indigenous communities.

Lowe’s improved their commitment to sourcing sustainable wood products in Canada by requiring all Canadian wood products be sourced from third-party certified forests by 2027. Lowe’s will show preference for wood certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), which provides the most prescriptive and extensive environmental protection for forests. Unfortunately, only 8% of Lowe’s wood (by volume) in 2021 was FSC certified, and 57% was certified by the Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI), which has been criticized as a greenwashing scheme. We hope to see Lowe’s move towards requiring all wood products from Canada to be certified by FSC – and not SFI – in the future.

In its new report, Lowe’s committed to strengthen its wood sourcing policy by implementing two of several policies that  Environment America Research & Policy Center requested of the company in December, 2021. These changes represent key steps toward better protected forests. The first allows Indigenous communities to determine which third parties, if any, are able to log on their land. The second implements a grievance mechanism for communities that are negatively impacted by logging.

Still, there’s work to do. While Lowe’s has committed to take several steps forward, including by investing in reforestation projects, the company has, disappointingly, sidestepped the issue of protecting primary forests, which are forests undisturbed by industry. Protecting primary forests is essential for preventing the worst impacts of climate change and protecting biodiversity.

This report fulfilled the terms of Lowe’s withdrawal agreement with Green Century Capital Management, which called on the company to increase the scale, pace and rigor of the efforts to eliminate wood linked to deforestation and the degradation of primary forests within its supply chain.

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