February 27, 2016. Originally published in the Guardian by Sarah Shemkus.
Earlier this month, a groundbreaking agreement was reached to prohibit logging in the majority of the 6.4m-hectare Canadian rainforest known as the Great Bear Rainforest – a stretch of coastal ecosystem nearly the size of Ireland.
The winners in the deal were environmental groups and the First Nations peoples who call the land their ancestral home. But there was also a less obvious contingent: an international assortment of business interests that used their influence to push for a deal.
More than a dozen businesses that buy wood and paper products – from publishing companies like Canada’s Globe and Mail to major retailers like the United Kingdom’s Marks & Spencer – participated in the 16-year negotiation that resulted in the agreement to ensure sustainable forestry practices on the remaining land. They used their market clout to pressure forestry companies to commit to sustainability in the Great Bear Rainforest and, in return, reaped financial and social benefits for their own operations.
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