British Columbia

Vancouver environmentalist wins $3M Climate Breakthrough Award

Nicole Rycroft's track record when it comes to protecting forests and fighting climate change includes a successful campaign to green all the copies of the last book in the Harry Potter series.

Nicole Rycroft's work to protect the world's forests described as 'visionary'

Australian-born Vancouverite Nicole Rycroft is the Founder and Executive Director of Canopy. The non-profit aims to change the forestry industry worldwide.\ (Climate Breakthrough Project/Canopy)

Vancouver environmentalist Nicole Rycroft has won a $3 million grant for being named recipient of a Climate Breakthrough Award.

Rycroft, executive director of the non-governmental organization Canopy, said the grant from the San Francisco-based NGO Climate Breakthrough Project was the result of a rigorous two year vetting process. 

"I'm pretty sure the team at Climate Breakthrough knows me better than my own mother does at this point," she said. 

In a statement, Climate Breakthrough Project described Rycroft's work around transforming paper production to more sustainable models as  "visionary."

One of Canopy's successes was a campaign to green J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter books.

The result: no trees were cut to produce millions of copies of the final in the series, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, which were printed on "ecopaper" made from 100 per cent tree-free, post-consumer fibre. 

"We forget that forests are part of the lungs of our planet and that conserving forests is the fastest, cheapest and most immediate thing for us to stabilize our climate," said Rycroft.

"And so, by focusing on this work to diversify the fibre baskets for packaging and clothing and for paper and books like Harry Potter ... that enables us to keep these really carbon rich forest ecosystems standing. And that's 30 per cent of the climate solution."

The infusion of the $3 million will happen over a three year period, according to Rycroft and will go a long way toward advancing Canopy's work around innovation, supply chains and collaborating with business to promote options to traditional wood fibre products.

"There are 200 million trees that are logged every year to make rayon and viscose clothing. There are three billion trees — billion with a "b" — that are logged every year to make packaging for everything from pizza boxes to shipping boxes to wrappings," said Rycroft.  

"We have alternatives. There are millions and millions of tonnes of straw that are left over every year after the food grain harvest ... Straw has excellent qualities for making paper and for making packaging, and it can help provide a value added revenue stream for farming communities."

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