Progress In Sustainable Forest Certification
ennsylvania Governor Tom Ridge has announced that his state is now home to the nation's largest certified forest. Citing global economic and environmental benefits, Gov. Ridge said that Pennsylvania's entire 2.1 million acres of state forest land have been certified as "well-managed" by an independent environmental review team.
Gov. Ridge said the certification will help Pennsylvania to compete in the growing consumer market for "green" label wood products. Just as recycled products have become common in the marketplace, many environmentally conscious timber consumers look for "green" label wood.
"With this certification, we increase the value of our hardwoods," Ridge said. "Pennsylvania's environmentally friendly wood products give Pennsylvania sawmills a competitive edge in the market." Ridge noted that during his trade mission to Ireland in May, officials from True Temper Ltd. said that customers from the United Kingdom and Ireland are committed to using hardwoods grown from sustainable sources, and that Pennsylvania is the primary provider of wood that meets these standards.
The review was conducted for Pennsylvania by Scientific Certification Systems (SCS) of Oakland, Calif., one of six companies worldwide accredited to offer forest landowners independent, third-party certification of sustainable forest-management practices. SCS was accredited by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), an organization formed in 1993 by environmental, social and forest-products industry representatives to establish guidelines for sustainable forest-management practices.
To carry the Certified Well-Managed label, a supplier's wood must be tracked from the forest, through manufacturing and distribution and to the customer. Certification is based on sustaining parts of the forest, maintaining a balanced ecosystem for plants and wildlife and benefiting people in surrounding communities.
More than 25 million acres in 25 countries worldwide have been certified as "well-managed." Consumers worldwide have the opportunity to buy more than 3,000 certified wood products. In the United States, more than 100 companies in 21 states sell FSC-endorsed wood products - from building materials such as lumber, to finished products such as furniture and pencils.
The U.S. market for certified forest products is rapidly expanding, according to the Certified Forest Products Council, a North-American, nonprofit business initiative established in 1997 to promote responsible forest products buying practices.
"Credible, independent, third-party forest certification is a valuable tool for improving forest management practices worldwide," said David A. Ford, President of the Certified Forest Products Council. "And it can only be effective if companies embracing certification take action to increase their purchase and sale of certified forest products and decrease their reliance on products from non-certified sources."
The Certified Forest Products Council is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization committed to improving forest management practices worldwide by promoting responsible forest-products purchasing practices throughout North America. For additional information about the Council, certified forest products, or the process of forest certification, contact Certified Forest Products Council, 14780 SW Osprey Drive, Suite 285, Beaverton, OR 97007-8424. E-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
In a related development, the Home Depot, the world's largest home improvement retailer, has formally endorsed independent, third-party forest certification. The Home Depot recently announced that it has joined the Certified Forest Products Council.
Some in the environmental community have responded by calling on The Home Depot to go further. The Rainforest Action Network (RAN) criticized Home Depot for continuing to sell products from old-growth forests.
Depot still plans to sell products made from the planet's last remaining
old growth forests," says Michael Brune, Rainforest Action Network old
growth campaign director. "Unless Home Depot stops selling old growth
wood this gesture will be meaningless."
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