Story | 11/14/2023 08:16:47 | 7 min Read time

Working together with WWF Poland to protect nature and fight climate change

Earth's resources are finite, and nature operates in a closed loop cycle. We humans, as well as business, should switch to a closed-loop economy i.e. a circular economy, which aims to preserve the limited resources we have for as long as possible, while minimizing waste and promoting reuse. UPM Raflatac, together with WWF Poland, is promoting ready-made solutions and educating the market on sustainability, especially towards the circular economy and helping mitigate climate change.

The important role of business 

At UPM Raflatac, our focus is on sustainability issues that are strongly linked to our business strategy and operations, as we believe this is the way we can have a greater impact. This approach also applies to the environmental collaborations we engage in. Great examples are our activities with WWF Poland.  

Business and consumers need support, the development of ready-made solutions and promotion of good practices. We provide these to our customers, end users, employees and other company stakeholders through projects conducted together with WWF Poland.

Our latest projects 

One of the pillars of UPM Raflatac's partnership with the WWF Poland Foundation is to support the development of privately protected areas in Poland, which are an excellent form of long-term investment in nature and, for many companies, a way to effectively meet climate strategy goals. Private protection is not yet popular in Poland. UPM Raflatac, as a company that has its roots deep in the forests, wants to support privately protected areas also in Poland. UPM owns a total of ~900 thousand hectares of forest land in Finland, Uruguay and the USA. Our most recognized company-owned privately protected area is Repovesi National Park in Finland. Privately protected areas give companies a chance to engage in verified, credible and science-based projects to mitigate climate change. 

With the support of UPM Raflatac, WWF Poland experts have developed valuable projects this year to promote the development of private protected areas in Poland, including: 

  • Guidelines for business on Private Protected Areas
  • A map of Polish lands with the highest environmental potential to become PPAs
  • Guidelines on carbon storage friendly afforestation  

"With the support of UPM Raflatac and in cooperation with the Center for Wetland Conservation, we conducted an analysis of the restoration of degraded ecosystems, specifically wetlands, which have a unique potential to prevent large amounts of CO2 emissions into the atmosphere. A map of priority wetlands in need of protection and restoration was prepared - more than 1.7 million hectares of wetlands, which is about 30% of all such areas in Poland. Among them, 20 pilot sites were selected that should be restored first. With UPM Raflatac, we also created an information package for business – "OH, Business!" to show how to invest wisely in nature,” says Mirosław Proppé, CEO, WWF Poland. "We advise, explain and guide you through the entire formal process. Such an investment, it's a benefit for the planet, business and people!", adds Proppé.

Privately protected areas - what are they?

According to the WWF, we have lost 69% of the world's biodiversity since 1970.* That's a lot. The good news is that there are ways to reverse this trend. One of them is precisely privately protected areas, otherwise known as private reserves. These are areas owned by private entities (companies, organizations, individuals), and the main purpose of creating them is to protect nature. By investing in such places, companies can implement sustainable development strategies and significantly offset their CO2 emissions. Especially when investing in wetlands and peatlands. WWF Poland and UPM Raflatac are working together to develop and promote the idea of private protected areas in Poland. 

Did you know that human-degraded (e.g. drained) wetlands cause the release of huge amounts of CO2 into the atmosphere? Per year, this is as much as the Polish power plant in Bełchatow emits. Putting wetlands under private protection is an opportunity to combat two crises at once - the climate one and the one related to biodiversity decline. 

Together with WWF Poland, UPM Raflatac is educating how to invest in nature in the long term in order to effectively support companies' climate strategy. We take part in panel discussions with business representatives, organize workshops for our employees, record educational podcasts and stimulate pro-environmental market trends.

"The Earth is not a bank, and our planet does not give credit. Excessive consumerism is ruining the environment. As part of our cooperation with WWF Poland, we raise awareness and help choose the right solutions so that both companies and ordinary citizens can promote biodiversity and effectively mitigate climate change," says Anna Madetko-Kawałko, Senior Marketing Communications Specialist, UPM Raflatac. 

From left to right: Barbara Dąbek (WWF Polska), Anna Madetko-Kawałko (UPM Raflatac), Katarzyna Kościesza (WWF Polska), Izabela Antczak (UPM Raflatac), Przemysław Różycki (UPM Raflatac), Justyna Dżbik-Klug,(dziennikarka prowadząca panel dyskusyjny). 

"Switching to closed-loop and other sustainable solutions, although seemingly difficult, is proving to be an easy and effective way to achieve environmental goals for many companies. Our customers and stakeholders highly value cooperation with WWF, and the fact that we take responsibility for sustainability not only with our products and services, but go one step further in our journey beyond fossils," concludes Przemyslaw Różycki, Sales Director, Poland, UPM Raflatac. 

Protected forest areas have always been part of UPM’s sustainability approach. The total share of protected or restricted use areas in UPM-owned forest in Finland  is now 15% and includes almost 39000 individually mapped key biotopes. UPM owns a total of about 900 000 hectares of forestry land in Finland, Uruguay and Minnesota, USA. Most of this land is located in Finland, totaling roughly 520,000 hectares, followed by Uruguay** (305,000) and the United States (76,000 hectares). We also lease about 160,000 hectares in Uruguay and manage around 1,3 million hectares of private forest. Maybe the most recognized PPA is the Repovesi National Park area in Finland which was established in 2003 and made possible by the donation of 560 hectares to the state of Finland, plus the further protection of 1400 hectares of company forest which increased the total protected area from 16km2 to almost 30 km2.  

All UPM-owned forests are certified. In Finland, they are certified by the PEFC and most of them also by the FSC®, and in the USA (Minnesota) by the PEFC. Our eucalyptus plantations in Uruguay are certified by both the FSC and the PEFC. In practice this means that PPA’s are integrated to the sustainable forest management practices in all these countries. 

*Source: Living Planet Report 2022, WWF  

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