Apple Working With WWF China to Manage Sustainable Forests

Apple Inc. and the World Wildlife Fund will work together to manage as many as 1 million acres of forests across China as Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook arrives in Beijing to announce new environmental initiatives.

Apple is funding the five-year project, to be managed by the global charity, to plant trees and implement environmental standards that use less land and water -- and produce less pollution -- to make paper, they said in separate statements.

Solar farms in California, hydro-electric turbines in Oregon and data centers in Europe are among environmental projects announced by the world’s most valuable company. Lisa Jackson, the former U.S. Environmental Protection Agency chief who now heads Apple’s green initiatives, is pushing to power company facilities with renewable energy and reduce impact from its supply chain.

Apple also named more of the local partners in its 40 megawatt China solar-power project. They include Leshan Electric Power Co. and SunPower Corp. Apple plans to expand its renewable-energy projects to manufacturing plants in China.

“This won’t happen overnight -- in fact it will take years -- but it’s important work that has to happen,” Cook said in Monday’s statement. “Apple is in a unique position to take the initiative toward this ambitious goal. It is a responsibility we accept.”

Forestry Plan

Cook marked the news with his first post on Sina Corp.’s Weibo microblog, with the Apple chief’s account garnering more than 216,000 followers in its first day.

“Happy to be back in Beijing, announcing innovative new environmental programs,” Cook wrote in a post that attracted over 23,000 comments. The account and Cook’s arrival in Beijing were confirmed by spokeswoman Kitty Potter.

Under the forestry plan, which aims to achieve what Apple calls a “net-zero impact” on supply of sustainable virgin fiber, the WWF will work with local governments and organizations in China to identify and manage suitable tracts of land, said Kitty Potter, a Beijing-based spokeswoman for Apple. WWF will work with groups in Fujian, Guangdong, Guangxi, Hunan and Yunan, she said.

Neither the WWF nor Apple will buy forests. The fund cooperates with farm owners to develop sustainable methods for managing their land, WWF China said in an e-mailed response to questions.

The two sides aim to increase the amount of land that’s certified by the Forest Stewardship Council for following environmental and social responsibility standards, the WWF said. Paper produced from such forests bear the council’s label.

Monday’s announcements come after Foxconn Technology Group, Apple’s largest supplier, told Bloomberg last month that it’s in talks to raise around $1.7 billion for a green fund that will support environmentally-friendly projects in China.