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Forest Certification

5/23/2014 4:00:00 PM
Article by Rob Ziegelmeier

I have been studying green building and its effect on the woodworking industry for over 15 years. During that time I have watched the wood industry being attacked on multiple fronts. For as long as I can remember, the Sierra Club has been battling with the wood industry starting with the Spotted Owl.

Another issue seems to be the United States Green Building Council’s continued support of only one forest certification system, the Forest Stewardship Council. Some of the so called big timber companies have questioned the logic behind this thinking. Now part of this stems from the fact that some of the big timber companies were involved with the formation of a competing forest certification system and because of this they have been reviled by the media as well as some USGBC members.

I will not discuss the individual merits of the competing forest certification systems however I was always taught that competition was good for the marketplace.

Let’s take this a step further, the Forest Stewardship Council has a product called “Controlled Wood,” which is wood from forests that are not FSC certified and are blessed by FSC and USGBC. This material must avoid trading and sourcing wood and wood fiber from the following categories.

1. Illegally harvested wood.

2. Wood harvested in violation of traditional and civil rights.

3. Wood harvested in forests where high conservation values are threatened by management activities.

4. Wood harvested in forests being converted to plantations or non-forest use.

5. Wood from forests in which genetically modified trees are planted.

A significant amount of this wood comes from those same competitors which are excluded from the LEED programs.

How can they bash these other forest certification system and at the same time say that their material is acceptable for “Controlled Wood”? This is a double standard. USGBC needs to either eliminate the “Controlled Wood” portion of FSC materials or allow the other forest certification systems into the fold.

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