Good forestry or politicized environmentalism

My forest is certified by the American Tree Farm system, the world’s oldest forest certification plan. It is affiliated with the Sustainable Forest Initiative (SFI). Nobody can care for his forest more than I do. Yet the wood I grow sustainably on land that has been growing sustainable forests for generations is not edible to be used in LEEDs buildings because of they only accept wood certified by the politically better connected Forestry Stewardship Council (FSC). Silly and harmful to America.

MOST American certified forests are SFI certified. Three quarters of our continent's wood is not FSC certified. That means that when you build a LEED building - supposedly "green" - you pay more for the wood AND there is a good chance that the wood will come from someplace outside the United States. It will be shipped to the U.S. on trucks and ships burning fossil fuel, so you end up paying more to create more pollution.

So let's sum this up. You want to build a "green" building, so you look to LEEDs standards. But the standard themselves force you to use wood that is less environmentally friendly, costs more and employs fewer Americans because you are locked into FCS wood.

I looked into these certification schemes. The differences on the ground between SFI and FSC are impossible to find. The Society of American Foresters says "FSC or better is neither logical nor scientific, especially when it continues to reinforce misconceptions about third-party forest certification and responsible forest practices.". I chose American Tree Farm System for my land because it was well established with a long and good history in the U.S. I know for sure it works.

FSC is more politically active. They have lots of allies among urban greens. People like my neighbors spend more time working their land than thinking about PC and PR. So FSC manages to intimidate and trick people into thinking that they have a monopoly on sustainable forestry. They don't. They are just more political and less American.
I know that few people reading this know or care much about this. You probably have seen FSC or SFI logos on your wood or paper products w/o paying attention. Certification for timber in North America is not an issue. There is little illegal logging in the U.S. Most landowners certify their land as a way of affirming their commitment to the land ethic and their neighbors. IMO, FSC and SFI provide nearly identical "protection" for the forests, but if you want American wood, you may want to go with SFI.

In any case, don't be impressed by the LEED standards. And if you or your government is tied into using only FSC wood, you are probably paying too much and costing jobs in American forests.

Reference

Posted by Christine & John at April 4, 2013 4:42 PM
Comments
Comment #363742

Many thanks C/J for the interesting post. Government certifies lots of things and professions. Some are useful to the consumer and some are only designed to control something or someone and to raise income.

When I was a kid watching the old Western movies I often saw my heroes getting a shave in a barber shop. It looked so cool that I vowed that someday I too would get a shave in a barber shop.

My wife and I use the same hair stylist…a man. A couple of months ago I was having him cut my hair and asked him if I could get a shave. In addition to being insulted by my request, he told me that he didn’t have a barber license and couldn’t legally give me a shave.

Imagine that! LOL

Posted by: Royal Flush at April 4, 2013 6:06 PM
Comment #363758

Then there is the sugar industry subsidies. A couple of families control the sugar conglomerate.

The fed recently negotiated wages to be paid for amnesty#2 farm workers, and so on - - -

Otherwise - - -

Posted by: Roy Ellis at April 4, 2013 9:30 PM
Comment #363779

The main difference? SFI is an industry founded group, while FSC is one founded by environmentalists. This is reflected in the fact that SFI allows forests to be clear cut and turned into tree farms, allows pesticides that accumulate in the environment to be used, allows the planting of genetically modified trees, among other things.

SFI’s standards, even if perhaps friendlier to the environment, will strike some as greenwashing, which might not be unjustified in light of these differences.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at April 5, 2013 11:22 AM
Comment #363817

Stephen

The standards are nearly identical on the ground. FSC is more political and pushes non-forestry political issues.

My land is well cared for. FSC would not improve what we do. SFI works just fine AND it is much better for Americans.

RE “will strike some as greenwashing, which might not be unjustified in light of these differences.”

I am constantly fighting against this sort of ignorance and unscientific ideas. It is a chore. Many “environmentalist” know little about the environment. I can almost always convince the smart ones, but many are not smart.

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