Last week, I presented at the GreenBlue Value Innovation Work Session on Forest Certification, a self-proclaimed “groundbreaking gathering of thought leaders from across the forest products supply chain” in Atlanta, Georgia. The event focused on the changing needs in the certified forest products industry and identified the most valuable elements of forest certification while elevating strategies to deliver that value to forest products companies and large customers.
In attendance were key forest products companies and big brands, including International Paper, Domtar, Georgia-Pacific, Sappi North America, Packaging Corporation of America, McDonald’s, Staples as well as my favorite candy maker Mars.
For my presentation, I was asked to discuss the key issues of environmental performance that certification must address to meet the needs of stakeholders like Dogwood Alliance. For Dogwood Alliance, when we talk about forest management certification, we are talking about Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certification, recognized as the gold standard by leading environmental groups. But beyond that quick answer, what other elements are mission critical in addressing concerns about the negative impacts of industrial forestry on Southern Forests?
- Limits on logging clearcuts to match what could have been caused by natural disturbance in the woods
- Retention of enough trees in and around the logging site to keep elements of habitat on the landscape that will withstand the first big windstorm
- Protection of water quality through mandatory buffering of all water courses in the logging area
- Protection of conservation values by planning the logging responsibly
- Maintaining natural forests through prohibition of conversion to industrial tree plantations
Most people probably never think about what type of logging restrictions are necessary to protect important conservation values, but here at Dogwood Alliance, we put a lot of expertise and effort into defining that standard and holding companies accountable to it. We are pleased that these critical elements are woven into the FSC certification system, which is why it has globally earned the endorsement of so many environmental organizations.
Because we are now firmly in the 21st Century with the world facing a global climate change crisis, we must keep carbon out of the atmosphere by recognizing the importance of forests as carbon sinks. I advanced this new addition to the core forest management values at this event.
So where do we go from here?
Across the US South, more than 5 million acres are logged every year.
That’s an area larger than the entire state of Delaware. What will it take to ensure that all logging is subject to common sense guidelines that keep and grow the amazing conservation values of the Southern forests that we love? It’s going to take all of us.
For Dogwood, that will always involve our amazing supporters and activists as well as corporations big and small who are willing to put their shoulders against the stone and push.