Report on Social Entrepreneurs: TZEPORAH BERMAN: CO-FOUNDER OF FORESTETHICS
If a tree falls in the forest, she knows
Special to The Globe and Mail
December 4, 2007
-- November finds Tzeporah Berman spending a few
quiet weeks with her family at their home on Cortes
Island, near the haunting
Desolation Sound on British Columbia's
She is pleased about the haphazard cellphone
reception and reflects on a busy, successful year for ForestEthics,
the non-profit forest protection group she co-founded in 2000.
First, there was her appearance in the lauded Leonardo DiCaprio-narrated
environment documentary The 11th Hour, which opened in August. In it,
she describes the perilous state of the world's forest system, 80 per cent of
which has already disappeared.
Then there was October's announcement by B.C. Premier Gordon Campbell about
the province's plan to protect 2.2 million hectares of old-growth forests to
help the dwindling numbers of mountain caribou rally from an all-time
population low of about 1,900 animals. Saving this globally unique inland temperate
rainforest had been a ForestEthics cornerstone
project for the past five years.
ForestEthics sprang from the Clayoquot
Sound anti-logging protests on Vancouver Island in the
1990s, which she took part in. With staff in Canada,
the United States
and Chile, the
organization aims to protect endangered forests by determining which are endangered and approaching companies that buy the
products made from logged trees in those forests. ForestEthics
asks the companies to stop purchasing those products; if the firms refuse, they
are met with protests on websites and in advertisements.
"The caribou story is a perfect example of what we do," said the
38-year-old mother of two boys. "The victory in protecting caribou habitat
in British Columbia is, in part,
a direct result of the growing green marketplace. There is a willingness on
behalf of major [companies] to engage in these issues."
She refers to Lowe's Companies Inc., the U.S.
home improvement retailer, as an example of businesses stepping up to the
ecological plate. "Lowe's buys close to a billion dollars worth of
forestry products from British Columbia
every year," she said, adding that it changed its policy of buying lumber
from unsustainable northern forests in 2005.
"That is a perfect example of what we've created at ForestEthics:
an environmental watchdog that does the science and research necessary to
identify which forests need to be protected, and that is connected to a
sophisticated financial and marketplace strategy."