Confusion over the definition of old growth is spurring a new campaign by ForestEthics against major paper retailers. In the past, the environmental organization has taken on lumber retailers such as Home Depot; now, it’s turning its attention to Staples, accusing the company of misleading customers into thinking it doesn’t sell paper products made from old-growth trees. ForestEthics says Staples sells products made from three old-growth regions (the Canadian boreal forest, the interior of British Columbia, and Indonesia). It says the company’s narrow definition of old growth — trees in forests that are at least 200 years old — doesn’t take into account diverse conditions on the ground, such as those in the boreal forest, where trees generally die naturally before reaching that age. The U.S. Forest Service has found at least 114 definitions of old growth, based on variables ranging from the age of trees in a forest to the thickness of the canopy to the amount of dead wood on the ground.

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