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How the butterfly effect (and you) save forests

Miranda RichardsonActress and WWF ambassador Miranda Richardson © Nick Haddow

Actress and WWF ambassador Miranda Richardson talks about how people power has come together to help protect the world’s forests.

“I’m sure you’ve heard of the butterfly effect, where a small change in one place in a complex system can result in large impacts elsewhere. It sprang to my mind when I heard about the success of WWF’s campaign asking councils to make a sustainable timber pledge. Following emails from WWF-UK supporters, nearly 100 councils have signed up – which is about a quarter of all councils in the UK!

My contribution – writing to my local council asking them to commit to only using sustainable timber – felt like just a little flutter of wings. After all, how could my one voice make much of a difference?

But a year down the line, with many thousands of others adding their voices, we’ve achieved these amazing results.

I’d started out a bit unsure why the focus was on councils. But it became much clearer when I heard that the public sector uses about a quarter of all timber products bought in the UK. That’s a lot of wood. The simple commitment to buy sustainably sourced timber inevitably takes pressure off the world’s forests – especially those where illegal logging is rife. Forests like those in the Heart of Borneo, home to orang-utans, and the Congo basin, with its lowland gorillas.

I’ve been lucky enough to champion the cause of endangered wildlife – I helped WWF speak out for Asian elephants in ITV’s Extinct series a few years ago. Every time I have a close encounter with anything to do with the natural world, it makes me keen to do more. So I was glad to be able to support a really effective campaign like this – encouraging councils to take a stand, and making a difference for forests and wildlife.

This giant forest fig is just a tiny fraction of the amazing forests found in Mozambique – forests that deserve protection. © Bart Wursten

So, a huge thank you – from me, and from WWF’s forest team – to everyone who took the time and effort to flutter their wings. Together, we started a chain reaction that will help to protect forests.

WWF will continue to support the councils that have made the pledge – and to protect the world’s forests. You can continue to do your bit by choosing to only buy wood and paper products that have the FSC logo – it’s a sign that it’s come from a sustainable source.”

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