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Green Products and FSC Certification

The concern about green products and certification has been coming up more and more but, WHAT IS IT?

Certification is the independent, scientific, third party verification of guaranteed sustainable forestry with chain-of-custody follow through on the resulting wood products. It's a method of scientifically quantifying and defining forestry management systems. And it's a trend that is changing the language of forestry worldwide.

The certification, or data collection and analysis, process is based on internationally applicable principles and criteria as established by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC). These assure that forests are managed in an environmentally responsible, and socially and economically viable manner. The chain-of-custody ensures certified products maintain their identity from the forest to the final product. There are presently two certifying organizations in the U.S. that are accredited by the FSC. They are SmartWood, in Vermont, and Scientific Certification Systems, (SCS), in California.

Robert Lumppio, chain of custody auditor for SCS, and Blaine Puller agree that " foresters do good work. Certification is a means of publicly recognizing that good work." According to Puller, certification has allowed the folks at Kane to "improve their practices - to move forestry to a higher level." The first words that appear on the SCS website are "verifying excellence".

The principles and criteria for certification fall under three categories: sustainable harvest, ecosystem health, and social and economic considerations. When timberlands are reviewed for certification they are scored in these three areas. "Think of the three legs of a stool - the stool won't stand unless all three legs are there" says Puller. After a company is scored in each area a determination is made whether they'll be certified or not. If certification is given, weak areas are addressed and a time frame is given to improve practices, usually at the time of the annual audit. Blaine Puller referred to certifying Kane's 125,000 acres as "a fairly simple process".

Certification was established, voluntarily, to help all parties bring order to the often contentious debate over management, harvesting, and conservation of the world's forests. It has been largely consumer-driven, a bottom-up movement. It hasn't come about due to government regulation. It makes government regulation unnecessary. Both public and private lands have been certified - over 42 million acres worldwide. At present both Home Depot and Lowe's are requesting more certified products from their suppliers. Certified is in demand.

Many view certification as a centrist movement, lending credibility and uniformity to wood products, sort of like the "UL" label for electrical components. It highlights wood flooring as the sound environmental choice that it is. Certification serves to undo the mistrust that can develop when differing factions emit widely varying messages. It unites parties. The Certified Forest Products Council (CFPC) is an organization dedicated solely to the promotion and facilitation of the increased purchase, use, and sale of third-party certified forest products.

Certification guarantees sustainability of our raw materials. Says Peter Barrett of Green RiverLumber, "Right down to the waste products from the manufacturing process - we know the supply is endless". That's an important message for consumers. We've all invested heavily in our businesses - we're in it for the long haul. And we've always known wood flooring is an environmentally sound choice - now we can guarantee it.

Our livelihood depends on the health of our nation's forests in general and on that of the northeastern forest in particular. We feel a responsibility to those who are considering the purchase of Green River flooring to make a statement about our own position with respect to the sustainability of the forest resource.

In the northeastern hardwood forest "selective" logging is the dominant method of timber harvesting. Mature trees are removed and the forest canopy is opened to allow younger trees to sprout and flourish. Studies abound which detail the benefits to wildlife and water conservation provided by this mode of harvesting.

The sawmills that supply the lumber used by Green River have invested heavily in their facilities to make them efficient and competitive. They are in business for the long haul, and depend upon a steady and reliable supply of logs. They simply cannot afford to abuse our timber resource.

Debate will always revolve around our forest resource, and, while we feel that most hardwood lumber in the northeast comes from timber that has been well managed for generations, we also want to support independent verification of sustainable forestry. In the early 1990's two organizations, Scientific Certification Systems (SCS), and Smartwood, under the auspices of the Forest Stewardship Council, began to examine the forestry practices being applied to specific tracts of timberland. Forests can be certified as "well managed, sustainable" if they meet the strict environmental and social criteria established by SCS and Smartwood. Certification is monitored carefully by these agencies and must be renewed annually. In 1994 Green River Lumber was certified in the "chain of custody" by SCS to process lumber cut from certified forests.

Information from Green River Lumber

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Sunrise Hardwood Floors, Inc. Sales (208) 941-4690 or (208) 941-0037 Fax (208) 922-5255
Email us at: SunriseHardwood@aol.com