Young women participating in the Clayoquot protests – efforts to protect the region sparked ForestEthics’ beginnings

Our history

Throughout the 1990s, a number of passionate, intelligent, and activist-minded Canadians fought to protect one of British Columbia’s last pristine rainforest valleys, Clayoquot Sound, from industrial logging. Clayoquot is home to giant, old growth cedar trees, and streams where salmon hatch before joining ocean currents.

At the forefront of the battle was Valerie Langer, one of the founders of ForestEthics. She literally put herself out on a limb to stop destructive logging practices, at one point perching herself on a log off the side of a bridge. But it wasn’t enough. Valerie and thousands of impassioned activists made headlines, but were unable slow down the logging.

They already had the drive and the conviction. Now it was time to get creative.

Locking themselves to trees and logging equipment hadn’t changed industries incentives to cut the forest down. So what would persuade them? The group began to realize that the solution lay in the marketplace where the products of this logging were bought and sold. If industry didn’t listen to to activists, Valerie and her colleagues reckoned, perhaps their customers might be more persuasive.

Markets-based campaigns were brand new, and in some ways, revolutionary: if the customers of forest products wanted no part of forest destruction, the forest products industry would have to listen. ForestEthics was born out of this idea; it helped to protect Clayoquot Sound. It revolutionized conservation.

Learn more in our origin story>>

Pioneering Markets

When protests against logging companies weren’t working, we went after the companies that were buying from the logging companies—and we won. Over time, our record of campaign victories and strategic partnerships has transformed  industries, and helped secure the protection of more than 65 million acres of forest. 

Some of our proudest achievements include:

  • Paper industry – in the early 2000s, we demanded a in shift in paper practices of large office supply stores. In 2005, independent reports indicated that recycled pulp mills were operating at  all-time highs due to demand from Staples and Office Depot.
  • Victoria’s Secret (Limited Brands) – In 2006, after we mounted a high-profile and media-savvy grassroots campaign, ForestEthics and Limited Brands struck a landmark agreement: Victoria’s Secret agreed not to print catalogs on paper manufactured from endangered forests in Canada. And Limited didn’t stop there: in an ongoing partnership with ForestEthics, the company continues to improve its paper policy.
  • Great Bear Rainforest Agreement – We worked to protect 6.7 million acres (2.7 million hectares) of one of the most biologically rich places in the world, the Great Bear Rainforest. It’s been heralded as a highly comprehensive conservation agreement, and serves as a model for other agreements worldwide, uniting the interests of First Nations, industry, provincial governments and environmental groups.
  • Canada’s Boreal forest – In the world’s largest conservation agreement, we’ve secured a logging moratorium on 190 million acres (76 million hectares) of ecologically-critical Boreal forest, an area the size of Texas. Naturally, it’s called the Canadian Boreal Forest Agreement, and it is the culmination of more than a decade of markets-based campaigns to protect forests.
  • Tar Sands – US fuel consumption is driving a spiraling environmental crisis in Canada, as the Canadian tar sands disaster expands to satisfy its neighbor’s fossil fuel addiction. We’re applying our market-based strategy to a new threat to Canadian forests (not to mention communities and climate!). Company by company, we’re shifting consumption away from the tar sands disaster by helping them commit to avoiding fuel from tar sands refineries. Nineteen companies have joined us so far, ranging from Walgreens to Whole Foods. View the full list >>
  • Sacred Headwaters – In a far northwest corner of British Columbia, three important rivers were threatened by Shell’s plans to drill for gas. There was too much at stake—crucial wild salmon habitat, pristine wilderness, and cultural heritage—to allow Shell’s drilling for coalbed methane to move forward as proposed. We grew the opposition of fearless local community members and First Nations into nearly 100,000 concerned voices—worldwide. We took these voices to the boardrooms of Shell and the offices of British Columbia’s government. On December 19, 2012 the government of British Columbia permanently banned gas drilling from the Sacred Headwaters. We helped to ‘Get the Shell Out’ for good. Explore this campaign’s path to victory in our interactive timeline >>

Offering Market Solutions

With our Markets Solutions department, ForestEthics not only exposes poor environmental business practices; we offer solutions to rise above them. Tapping into our in-house expertise and our extensive external network, Market Solutions provides information, guidance and recognition. Because it’s not enough just to tell companies to change their environmental practices—ForestEthics wants to give them the resources to do so.

One way is by developing and evaluating leading market standards for environmental practices. Since 2007, we’ve been partnering with Dogwood Alliance to publish Green Grades, an annual report card which evaluates Fortune 500 companies’ paper practices.

ForestEthics’ Market Solutions provides resources for companies who want to do better, but who need guidance. For over a decade, ForestEthics has worked with dozens of industry-leading corporations in the US. Together, we’ve forged environmental policies for industry sectors, such as paper production. Our corporate partners have become influential leaders on critical environmental issues. 

…And the best is yet to come!

With your support, ForestEthics is running campaigns to:

Expose Greenwash, like the phony SFI label
Greenwash harms forests and undermines credible  green market efforts 

Increase protection of the Boreal forest

Deliver on the promise of the world’s largest conservation agreement



Protect communities from pipelines & tankers
Sustain local economies instead of investing in dirty energy projects, like Enbridge’s proposed pipeline.



Achieve clean-energy commitments from companies
Diminish the US demand for Canada’s Tar Sands fuel.


We can’t do this alone

The success of our work depends on widespread public action—not to mention a passion for protecting wild, irreplaceable places. Through grassroots support, ForestEthics will continue to protect forests, and build a better way for doing business.