We encourage self-sufficiency and efficient wood use by farmers
Our long term wood use objectives are embedded into our Social Responsibility in Tobacco Production (SRTP) programme which applies to all our leaf suppliers. They cover the areas of self-sufficiency, education and efficiency.
Previously we defined self-sufficiency as the percentage of wood fuel sourced by growers from company sponsored forestry. We now recognise that self-sufficiency can be based on different forestry management systems, including trees grown by farmers or co-operatives, company owned or sponsored schemes, or forestry schemes contracted to third parties, providing the trees are grown with the specific purpose of use as fuel. The aim is to eliminate the use of native trees.
We require the development within our growing programmes of forestry management plans with clear objectives, which are monitored and flexible to allow for continuous improvement. These include numbers of trees to be planted, harvesting plans, forecasts and targets for full self-sufficiency, and are expected to take into account changes in future demand for leaf and for alternative fuel supplies, all relevant legislative requirements and other local requirements for wood, such as for domestic fuel.
We promote the best practice concept that forestry planning may include the planting of fruit, amenity, dual purpose and supplementary trees to encourage local community commitment.
We promote as best practice the existence of a natural seed bank for regeneration purposes and the use of local forestry certification schemes, which have been developed in several countries as a means of ensuring good quality management of sustainable forestry.
Cutting trees in existing native forests is not allowed by legislation in most countries. We support the view that it should be avoided even in the absence of specific local legislation.
We advise all growers through our agronomy programmes of our requirements for wood self-sufficiency and deploy education and support to ensure that the necessary plans are in place to develop good forestry management practices. Each relevant Group company is responsible for providing technical advice for planting and tree maintenance, supplementing existing agronomy guidelines, to support education amongst growers.
Sustainable forestry provides a community with a long term economic, biological and social resource. This can be achieved through the use of both native and non-native species. However, there should be an understanding of the long term impacts of using any non-native species.
We encourage links, where possible, with local universities and institutions to establish the impacts of tree plantations on locally valuable ecosystems, as defined by national classification systems. These links and studies may also lead to alternative indigenous species being identified and introduced.
Curing efficiency affects the quantity of wood fuel required, leading to improvements that contribute to good practice in forestry management. These include better design and maintenance of curing barns and the consideration of alternative fuels.
We encourage the optimisation of fuel consumption through barn design and training farmers in tobacco curing. We expect advances in curing technology to be applied to optimise fuel use and efficiency and to reduce labour requirements. We expect consideration to be given to alternative renewable and biomass fuels, including by-products of other agricultural activities such as rice paddy, in line with the most appropriate alternative fuels for each location.