U.S. Forest Service Looks Into 'Green' Certifications
Source: Associated Press
GRANTS PASS, Oregon -- Private timber companies have been getting "green" certifications for the past decade to boost sales among consumers who want to be assured that forests are not harmed by producing the lumber they buy.
Now the U.S. Forest Service, battered by court battles over balancing logging against fish and wildlife habitat, is looking into it.
A portion of the Fremont National Forest in southern Oregon and the Allegheny National Forest in Pennsylvania will be the first of several national forests to undergo an audit under the standards of two major systems: the Sustainable Forestry Initiative, developed by the U.S. timber industry, and the Forest Stewardship Council, an international group based in Germany that grew out of the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro. The national forest audit will also include Mount Hood and Siuslaw in Oregon, Medicine Bow in Wyoming, Chequamegon-Nicolet in Wisconsin and all national forests in Florida.
The Forest Service said it is following a global trend to have third parties declare forest management as sustainable, and needs the public's confidence as it faces new challenges, such as invasive species, global warming and combating unauthorized off-highway vehicle trails. Wanting to go slowly, it will just go through the audit process, and won't immediately seek final certification.
"Here we are providing advice to other countries and not even doing it on our own land," said Sally Collins, associate chief of the Forest Service, from Washington, D.C. "It made us think we ought to at least test this, because it's becoming an international language and we ought to be able to show we manage our forests sustainably."
The sustainability standards address issues such as making sure new trees are growing to replace those that are cut, controlling erosion and protecting fish and wildlife habitat and clean water. The Forest Stewardship Council standards go further to assure protection of social issues, such as sacred tribal sites; and economic considerations, such as maintaining long-term jobs, in addition to the environment.