Developing a Stewardship Standard for Alternative Natural Fibers
As the global demand for fiber-based products continues to rise, many companies are seeking sources that avoid high-conservation value forest regions. Bamboo, kenaf, hemp and other “purpose grown natural fibers” provide viable options for companies seeking alternatives to wood, as well as sustainable livelihoods for rural communities. Moreover, many of these crops have attributes that make them attractive in their own right: they are rapidly renewable, can be cultivated without intensive agrochemical inputs or water use and may prove useful in the restoration of degraded lands.
Just as Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certification safeguards forests, there is a need to ensure that management of alternative natural fibers is handled responsibly. Companies looking to source these materials are calling for a standard to promote and enforce globally respected environmental and social criteria among producers of alternative natural fibers.
To help achieve this goal, the Rainforest Alliance has embarked on the development of a rigorous global stewardship standard for the management of plants that contain these fibers—crops that can be used to produce a range of goods, including paper, packaging, construction materials and textiles. Our aim is to ensure the responsible management of alternative natural fibers by providing growers and their buyers with a mechanism to evaluate environmental, social and economic performance.