Timber is a vital resource that is all around us. It is the house that shelters us, the furniture we relax in, the books we read, the paper we print, the disposable diapers for our babies, and the boxes that contain our cereal, detergent, and new appliances. The way we produce and consume timber, however, is changing. With international timber companies and big box discount retailers increasingly controlling through global commodity chains where and how much timber is traded, the world's remaining old-growth forests, particularly in the developing world, are under threat of disappearing – all for the price of a consumer bargain.
This trailblazing book is the first to expose what's happening inside corporate commodity chains with conclusions that fundamentally challenge our understanding of how and why deforestation persists. Authors Peter Dauvergne and Jane Lister reveal how timber now moves through long and complex supply chains from the forests of the global South through the factories of emerging economies like China to the big box retail shelves of Europe and North America. Well-off consumers are getting unprecedented deals. But the social and environmental costs are extraordinarily high as corporations mine the world's poorest regions and most vulnerable ecosystems.
The growing power of big retail within these commodity chains is further increasing South-North inequities and unsustainable global consumption. Yet, as Timber's highly original analysis uncovers, it is also creating some intriguing opportunities to promote more responsible business practices and better global forest governance.
"A skillful and fascinating introduction to the way we produce and consume timber. This challenging piece of research will be of great interest to academics, economists, businessmen and alert consumers."
- Global Journal
"In what increasingly reads like a Sherlock Holmes thriller, the authors unravel the alliances and corruption of the giant multinational players involved in the rape of the forests."
- Irish Examiner
"A rich, detailed, and insightful account of the power of big box retailers within global forest commodity chains. By offering an intriguing empirical account of the power of big box retailers within global commodity chains, the book speaks beyond the subject of timber to inform more theoretical discussions of corporate power in a globalized economy."
- Review of Policy Research
"A great resource for improving the role retailers and consumers play in the management of the world's forests."
- Compendium Newsletter
"A very good introduction to the timber industry."
- Environment and Planning C
"A welcome – and recommended – contribution to considerations of the challenges facing current and future forest use."
- Chartered Forester
"Flows well in leading to its conclusion. Unlike many critiques, Timber provides a plausible answer to the problem it presents."
"An interesting and, in parts, troubling book on the nature of deforestation throughout the world, that holds relevance for everyone today."
- Furniture and Cabinetmaking
"Timber uncovers the dark world of commodity chains that link the wood in our lives to global deforestation, and offers rays of hope for promising change. It elicits not simply intellectual engagement but deep gratitude toward the authors for their penetrating research, political insights and clarity of expression. The book should be required reading for everyone."
- Paul Wapner, American University, Washington DC
"A deep and incisive expose of the roles that timber and retail interests play in driving deforestation, the enormous economic power they wield in the market place and the tactics they use to influence small firms. The book speaks beyond the subject of timber to provide an original and thoughtful commentary on how international commodity chains shape not only the global economy but the global environment."
- David Humphreys, Open University
"A brilliant and powerful book that allows us to see the forest for the trees. Its stunning exposè is a must-read for scholars and practitioners seeking a more promising and sustainable future."
- Ben Cashore, Yale University
"Fascinating [...] This book is an essential source of objective knowledge on the role that industry, retailers and consumers play in determining whether the world's forests are adequately managed."
- Michael Jenkins, President, Forest Trends
List of tables, figures, and text boxes
1 The Global Political Economy of Timber
2 The Power of Big Retail
3 The Northern Forest and Paper Multinationals
4 The Rise of the Third World
5 Consuming the South
6 Governing Timber Consumption
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