Rainforest Alliance Congratulates 2017 FSC Leadership Winners and Partner Companies

Photo Credit: Ebersole Photography

By Samantha St. Pierre, Manager, Markets Transformation, Rainforest Alliance

On November 8th, the Forest Stewardship Council® US (FSC) fêted its 2017 Leadership Award winners at the Boston Showroom of Knoll, an FSC-certified furniture company, during Greenbuild, the world’s largest green building event. The FSC awards recognize individuals and organizations that drive meaningful impact in protecting forests through FSC certification, and this year’s winners include an impressive roster of companies and individuals with a proven track record of commitment to forest conservation. The Rainforest Alliance is proud that seven of the sixteen winners are FSC Certified through the Rainforest Alliance’s certification division:

  • ARAUCO North America
  • Center for Forest and Wood Certification at the University of Kentucky
  • Christopher McDonnel
  • Monadnock Paper Mills
  • Patagonia
  • Proctor & Gamble
  • Staples

We have selected a few of the FSC winners working with the Rainforest Alliance to highlight:


Patagonia has a history of more than 40 years of responsible sourcing and production with a focus on the environment. Driven by a mission to build the best product, cause no unnecessary harm and use business to inspire and implement solutions to the environmental crisis, Patagonia has continued to take actions to protect the environment, including forests, and reduce the impact of their sourcing. One of these recent innovations was transitioning their wetsuits from neoprene to Yulex® natural rubber that is FSC® certified by the Rainforest Alliance.  In seeking to produce an environmentally friendly wetsuit, Patagonia identified the opportunity to reduce carbon emissions by up to 80%, as compared to conventional, non-renewable neoprene, by using renewable natural rubber from hevea trees.  Knowing how transformative these efforts were, Patagonia has open sourced their methods for producing hevea wetsuits to allow other companies in the industry to adopt the technology.

Patagonia also understood that deforestation can be a key issue in the natural rubber supply chain, and to mitigate the risk, they turned to FSC certification.  Working with the Rainforest Alliance, Patagonia secured FSC certification for their entire wet suit supply chain, thereby ensuring that their sourcing does not contribute to deforestation and also reduces carbon emissions.  Patagonia is a true leader in protecting our world’s forests and safeguarding the environment through responsible sourcing.


Staples, Inc., the world’s largest retailer of office products, has been an FSC ally since they released their very first sustainable paper procurement policy in the early 2000s.  Today, the Staples procurement policy guides the company towards a goal of that all forest products achieve FSC certification, or be from post-consumer recycled or sustainable alternative fiber sources, to minimize life-cycle environmental and social impacts.  They compete and win business based on their ability to provide an extensive FSC product line and their possession of supply chain tracking tools that provide customers with a quick and easy way to understand the environmental components of their purchasing decisions.

Staples has worked hard to achieve their commitment to FSC sourcing by developing strong relationships with partners in their supply chain. In addition to the core commitment to sustainable forest products, Staples is one of the key partners in the Appalachian Woodlands Alliance, working with the Rainforest Alliance and other partners to engage and empower small woodland owners of the Appalachian Mountains in the southeast U.S. to sustainably manage their land, offering new tools to help bring this important resource base into the FSC system.  Staples is using their position as one of the world’s largest purchasers of FSC paper to catalyze numerous on-the-ground efforts to improve management of the world’s forests from the US South to the Global South.

Christopher McDonell

For the past 20 years, Chris McDonell has played a leading role in shaping what responsible forest management means throughout the Canadian landscape. As the Manager of Aboriginal and Environmental Relations for Tembec Industries Inc., Chris has greatly contributed to building the company’s well-deserved reputation as a trailblazer in sustainability.

In 2000, during a time of political strife between environmentalists and loggers, World Wildlife Fund Canada (WWF) and Tembec met to discuss a peaceful and profitable solution to protecting and managing Canada’s forests. Chris was at the forefront of these discussions and his influence helped lead to unprecedented corporate engagement from Tembec to seek FSC-certification for all their forestry operations across Canada – a commitment that still guides the company’s sourcing. The Rainforest Alliance is proud to be the certifying body for this FSC achievement.

Chris has represented Tembec on various committees, some of which he has chaired, such as the Forest Products Association, the Forest Stewardship Council-Canada and the Network for Business Sustainability Leadership Council. His professionalism, diplomacy and personal commitment facilitated the successful signing of the world’s largest conservation initiative: the Canadian Boreal Forest Agreement. He continues to also be an important mentor, widely recognized amongst the Rainforest Alliance staff, and we want to thank him for his support.

We commend all the winners of the 2017 FSC Leadership Awards and the critical roles they are playing to shape the landscape of responsible forest management through innovative projects, partnerships and products. These leaders prove that it is possible to protect forests through certification and collaboration with partners and organizations like the FSC and the Rainforest Alliance.

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