The ‘Green’ TEAM
“For every tree they take down, they plant two or three,” Best says.
The Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI) certification program, favored by many paper companies, provides guarantees that forests are well managed and that all wood used comes from legal sources. Because of regulated tree harvesting and forest-management practices in Canada and the United States, Best says deforestation is not an issue for Lightning Source, which only uses Canadian and American pulp.
On the other hand, forest-conversion practices, whether clear-cutting and replanting in the boreal, selective cutting on private lands or pulp plantations in the southeastern United States, are far from environmentally neutral. Cutting down natural forestland is considered a blow to biodiversity with serious consequences for animal habitat. In addition, according to the GPI, recent studies have concluded that the ability of undisturbed forests to remove carbon from the atmosphere is far greater than in previously clear-cut zones: Even forests last logged 70 years ago only store about half the carbon of untouched woodland.
Forest-conversion is a key issue among those who favor the more stringent Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certification system, and those who prefer other plans, such as the SFI or Canadian Standards Association (CSA) programs. FSC seeks to minimize forest-conversion impacts by not certifying plantations that were created after 1994. Tyson Miller, GPI executive director, notes that it is widely lauded as the best practice on the ground because of its criteria associated with protecting endangered and high-conservation-value forests, and controlling large-scale clear-cutting. He notes that FSC is the only system that integrates social concerns into forest-management plans and requires consensus to any disputes.
An FSC label is no guarantee that ecological harm is not being done, however. This was recently highlighted by a Wall Street Journal article about an Indonesian paper company whose “FSC mixed sources” product contained wood from clear-cut rainforest. (The loophole passed muster because the non-FSC-certified wood, which can make up 50 percent of a product earning a “mixed” label, came from a legal source).