Sierra Club Home Page   Environmental Update  
chapter button
Explore, enjoy and protect the planet
Click here to visit the Member Center.         
Take Action
Get Outdoors
Join or Give
Inside Sierra Club
Press Room
Politics & Issues
Sierra Magazine
Sierra Club Books
Apparel and Other Merchandise
Contact Us

Join the Sierra ClubWhy become a member?

Planet Main
Back Issues
Search for an Article
Free Subscription
In This Section
Table of Contents

The Planet

Hold the Old-Growth!

Club Ups Ante, Kicks Off Redwood Consumer Campaign

The Planet, April 1997, Volume 4, number 3

by Marie Dolcini

No matter how you slice it -- saw, nail, or sand it -- with less than 4 percent of the world's old-growth redwoods remaining, and only half of that enjoying permanent protection, the best use is to leave them standing in permanently protected groves. That's the message the Sierra Club and its coalition partners are broadcasting as part of a new campaign strategy centering on an old-growth redwood consumer advisory.

The campaign was launched in early February by the Sierra Club, Greenpeace and the Rainforest Action Network with a kick-off event in Los Angeles calling for consumers and dealers everywhere to take action to save our last old-growth redwood forests. Campaign organizers were joined by actors Steven Segal and Ed Asner and singer Bonnie Raitt and distributed a national mailing to more than 6,000 architects, builders, do-it-yourselfers and lumber dealers, urging recipients to stop purchasing, distributing and using ancient redwood. The letter explained the threats to the redwood ecosystem and asked recipients to instead shift to certified redwood from well-managed second-growth forests and to alternatives such as non-wood products. Consumers are being urged to follow through by calling on neighborhood businesses to pledge against buying and distributing old-growth redwood.

Old-growth ecosystems are important ecologically because they provide critical habitat for imperiled species such as coho salmon -- down to 1 percent of its former population in California -- and the marbled murrelet. None-theless, ancient redwood is still frequently used to make products such as hot tubs and outdoor decks.

"Decreasing the demand for ancient redwood, as well as enforcing federal protections for species like the coho, are essential to protecting our redwood ecosystem," said Calif./Nev./Hawaii Associate Representative Elyssa Rosen. "We want to give people an opportunity to take action and let the logging industry and our leaders in Washington, D.C., know that we're not going to go away, and this is a powerful new component to efforts to protect these ancient trees from increased logging threats."

Within its first few weeks, a dozen small lumber yards and architectural associations had signed on to the grassroots campaign. Now Club volunteers are creating momentum by generating thousands of signatures at tabling events near select outlets and home improvement centers across the country.

"Cutting down rare 2,000-year-old trees for consumer products doesn't make sense anymore, but our government leaders are still waffling about protection," said California State Forestry Chair Kathy Bailey. "It's up to the public to tell the timber industry to stop logging ancient redwoods right now."

To take action: Please take the following three-step commitment, and ask others to do the same:

  1. Refrain from purchasing old-growth redwood. Contact your local lumber suppliers, architect associations, contractors and home improvement centers and ask them to make the same pledge.
  2. Send a letter to the editor of your local paper calling for consumers and lumber dealers to stop buying and distributing old-growth redwood products.
  3. If possible, send copies of letters you write in support of the consumer campaign to the Sierra Club Calif./Nev./Hawaii office at 4171 Piedmont Ave., Oakland, CA 94611.

For more information: Contact Elyssa Rosen at (510) 450-1389; e-mail: <>.
For information on buyers committed to purchasing certified wood products, contact Environmental Advantage, 1 Wall Street Tower, 20 Exchange Place Floor 32, New York, NY 10005; (888) 981-5858; e-mail: <>.
For information on certified lumber, contact EcoTimber International, 1020 Heinz Ave., Berkeley, CA 94701; (501) 549-3000; e-mail: <>

Up to Top