Our sustainability journey began in 1993 with the realisation that responsible commercial forest management and deforestation required collective action. This led B&Q to work with WWF, the Rainforest Alliance and others to found the Forestry Stewardship Council (FSC) to improve forestry practices and provide greater confidence to our consumers.
In 2011, our British banner, B&Q, first achieved its goal of only using timber from responsible sources. Today, Kingfisher plc is an international home improvement company with 11 retail banners operating across eight countries. Each banner and the products we sell bring their own set of supply chain sustainability challenges which we’re working to solve.
A new, ‘Forest Positive’ agenda
At the end of 2020, we committed to becoming ‘Forest Positive’ and creating more forests than we use by the end of 2025.
Tackling climate change, eliminating deforestation and enhancing the livelihoods of communities in our supply chains are all key to our commitment to leading our industry in responsible business practices, which is at the heart of our strategic plan, “Powered by Kingfisher”.
Our Forest Positive approach has four key elements:
Reforestation and sustainable livelihoods
Forest communities play a vital role in protecting critical forest landscapes. If we are to restore forests, halt deforestation and forest degradation, we need to foster partnerships that create long-lasting change.
We are a founding member of the Rainforest Alliance Forest Allies initiative, which is equally focused on protecting natural forests and partnering with communities to build strong local economies.
Forest Allies recognises indigenous peoples and local communities as effective forest stewards and future business partners. Working beyond our individual supply chains on projects in Indonesia, Cameroon, Peru, Guatemala and Colombia, the programme will restore ecosystems across over 300,000 hectares and benefit the livelihoods of over 7,500 local people.
Understanding our impact on and benefits from biodiversity
Longer-term, the work with Forest Allies could act as a ‘launch pad’ from which we invest further in understanding the impact of more sustainable forest management on biodiversity. As one of the largest retailers of wood-based products in the UK and Europe, we want to better understand our ‘balance sheet’ with regards to our impacts on, and benefits from biodiversity. We are starting to see guidelines and reporting measures to help businesses assess this part of their sustainability progress.
For example, the UN Biodiversity Framework has been developed as a guide to preserve nature. A part of that will require business to assess and report on their dependencies and impacts on biodiversity.
In addition, increased use of recycled materials will also be an important component of reducing pressure on virgin timber sources.
Utilising forests to reduce carbon emissions
Kingfisher’s commitment to forests was validated by some of the outcomes of COP26, which included the Glasgow Leaders’ Declaration on Forests and Land Use. This committed 137 countries to end forest loss and land degradation by 2030. Inherent in these commitments was a recognition of the role forests play in limiting global warming to 1.5 °C.
Last year Kingfisher committed to new emissions reduction targets, which have been approved by the Science Based Targets initiative and which are consistent with reductions required to keep global warming to 1.5°C or less (the most ambitious goal of the Paris Climate Agreement).
Now we want to work towards understanding how forest restoration and afforestation (planting new forest) can complement our emissions reduction targets and how that could be relevant to our Forest Allies partnership and future forestry partnerships.
We also want to investigate how certification systems, like FSC, can be linked to quantifiable emissions reductions that can enhance our corporate climate commitments. To this end, Kingfisher has committed to working with the FSC and SustainCert, an NGO dedicated to mainstreaming credible climate and sustainability impact accounting and certification, to support a pilot programme that will enable relevant methodologies to be tested.
Empowered retail banners
Our banners are also playing a crucial role in supporting forests and the communities that depend on and use them within the countries that they operate in. It’s based on three objectives:
- Protection or restoration of forests and other natural ecosystems – B&Q and Screwfix in the UK, as well as some of our other banners in Europe, are looking at how they could re-establish forests in rural and urban areas.
- Engaging colleagues and communities – Castorama in France worked with ReforestAction to plant trees using funds raised through a running and cycling challenge. Some of the planting has been implemented in Saint Martin, Peru, a landscape also in the Forest Allies portfolio.
- Serving national or international objectives to restore biodiversity – More than just tree planting by numbers, we want our projects to materially contribute to wider biodiversity goals, such as the UN Biodiversity Framework, to address climate change and engage and involve communities.
A top-down, bottom-up, wide-ranging approach to realising our Forest Positive ambition
The above represents a group-wide approach that builds on our long-term commitments to sustainability whilst reflecting the diverse nature of Kingfisher today. We know we have a long way to go but we are determined to get there.
Of course, as I write this, circumstances have changed again with the war in Ukraine. Our thoughts are with all people impacted by the conflict and our teams across Kingfisher are working hard to provide humanitarian support, especially our store colleagues in neighbouring Poland and Romania.
We also decided early on to stop selling products that are directly sourced from Russian and Belarussian suppliers and we are now going deeper into our supply chains. We also fully support the recent moves by the FSC and PEFC to ban Russian and Belarusian wood from their certified products. Given the importance of Russia to natural resources, this conflict will also create more tension in the sourcing of sustainable wood in the world.
In spite of this, we will continue to explore and test new ways to ensure our colleagues, suppliers and wider supply chains can make a significant contribution to creating more forests, using forest materials more wisely and in a way that safeguards a sustainable future for our business and planet. By 2025, we will become Forest Positive.