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The recent News story announcing Home Depot's plans to phase out old-growth or endangered-forest wood relayed some of the best news possible for the 20 percent of the world's ancient forests that remain intact.

Home Depot is currently the world's largest retailer of old-growth wood products, which have been ripped from the heart of some of the most threatened forest areas on the planet.

These products include lauan and ramin from the tropical rain forests of Southeast Asia, mahogany from the Amazon and cedar and other woods from the temperate rain forests of British Columbia. The decision to go old-growth free is a huge victory for grass-roots organizing. Groups across the United States and Canada organized demonstrations at local stores urging the retailer to do the right thing.

There were over 500 demonstrations during the two-year campaign, including one in Buffalo organized by the University at Buffalo Environmental Network, of which I am a member.

Home Depot says its decision was not in response to any of our protests, but I am not so sure. Two years ago, the company denied selling old-growth wood. Two months ago, it said it had too many products to figure out where all the wood comes from. Now the store says it was their plan to phase out old-growth wood all along. I'm not about to contradict them. I'm just happy they are doing it.

But the question remains: Now that the industry leader has committed to stop selling old-growth wood, what are other home-improvement chains going to do? When will Sears, True Value, Ace Hardware and 84 Lumber tell us that they, too, will work to protect our forests and not destroy them?


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