Timberland follow Nike's lead on Amazon leather


Pressure from Greenpeace has resulted in Timberland - famous for outdoor footwear - announcing a policy agreement that will help ensure leather in their products does not contribute to new Amazon deforestation.

Greenpeace's damning document "Slaughtering the Amazon" has resulted in a flood of companies standing up and taking some action about their role in deforestation.

Slaughtering the Amazon documents a three-year investigation that traced leather, beef and other cattle products from ranches involved in deforestation at the heart of the forest, as well as the invasion of indigenous lands and slavery, back to the supply chain of big brands. It is estimated that an area the size of France has been cleared for cattle in the Amazon.

The cattle industry in the Amazon is huge and is Brazil's single biggest source of carbon emissions. Cattle is also the major driver in deforestation in the world: even more deadly than conversion for oil palm.


"Timberland has raised the bar for environmentally and socially resposible leather sourcing policies in the Amazon," said Lindsey Allen, Greenpeace USA forest campaigner.

This announcement follows the news that Nike and Geox committed to not sourcing any leather from the Amazon until deforestation for cattle expansion is halted. Wal-Mart and Carrefour have also warned Brazil's beef industry that they will no longer buy their products unless it can be demonstrated they do not contribute towards deforestation.

But it doesn't end there. In June 2009 the World Bank withdrew a loan to one of Brazil's cattle giants. The last US$30 million of a US$90 million has been pulled from cattle firm Bertin and it is thought the remainder US$60 million will also be returned.

It remains to be seen if these actions will merely displace the problem somewhere else, but the the weight and purchasing powers of these companies must lend a big hand to halting global deforestation.

In December 2009, political negotiations to save the climate will culminate at the UN Copenhagen Climate Summit, where governments must agree to a strong global deal to avert catastrophic climate change. It is imperative any deal addresses deforestation.