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Forestry, Farming Ventures Take Rainforest Alliance Sustainability Prizes

What do North American forestry giants, Brazilian and Colombian coffee farmers, the biggest U.S. food company, a small tour boat operator, Ecuador's second largest banana producer, and one of the world's biggest commercial printers based in Wisconsin have in common?

They are all 2005 Rainforest Alliance sustainability award winners and part of the vanguard of a market-driven environmental movement towards "sustainable certification" -- diverse producers, service companies, traders, wholesalers and retailers using environmentally and socially responsible practices that meet the strict standards of the Rainforest Alliance, a New York-based not-for-profit organization. Its mission is to protect ecosystems and the people and wildlife that depend on them by transforming land-use practices, business practices and consumer behavior.

These producers and purveyors of coffee, bananas, timber products, pulp and paper and eco-tourism, are all exemplars of commercial operations retooled to meet the Rainforest Alliance's standards and receive Rainforest Alliance and Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) seals of approval, helping conserve biodiversity and provide sustainable livelihoods for their workers. Their products make sustainable choices available to consumers at the supermarket, Kinko's, Home Depot, IKEA and many other familiar outlets.

Now they are heading to New York for a May 11th daytime conference at Time Inc.'s headquarters on how best to market their "certified sustainable" products to environmentally- and socially-minded consumers, whose purchase choices are driving the fast-growing certification movement. The conference includes a press availability at 2pm.

That evening amid the famous dioramas and fossils of the American Museum of Natural History on Central Park West at 79th Street, the participants will be formally recognized at the Rainforest Alliance Annual Gala awards dinner for their leadership in helping conserve living habitats and wildlife while invigorating human communities. The annual gala dinner, brings together environmentalists, progressive companies, celebrities and business and diplomatic leaders.

"These are some of the companies and people doing the most today to make sure that museum exhibits are not all that is left of precious wildlife and forest resources for our grandchildren," said Tensie Whelan, executive director of the Rainforest Alliance. "On large scales and small, they are showing the world how to make commercial activity sustainable, so that instead of destroying sensitive environments and perpetuating poverty, our economy actually preserves habitats and improves workers' lives and communities."

The 2005 awardees and sponsors participating in the May 11 conference and the gala include:

2005 Individual Sustainable Standard-Setters
  • Grupo Kachalu, Colombia
  • Luis Pascoal, DaTerra, Brazil
  • Santiago Dunn, Ecoventura, Galapagos Islands
  • Tom Quadracci, Quad/Graphics, USA
Corporate Sustainable Standard-Setters
  • The Candlewood Timber Group, Inc., Argentina / USA
    Favorita Fruit Company, Ecuador
  • The Forestland Group, LLC, USA
Corporate Green Globe Awardee
  • Kraft Foods Inc.
Individual Green Globe Awardee
  • Alan Knight, until recently head of sustainability at B&Q, U.K.

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