Few things are as potent an environmental symbol as the world’s forests. Wood is also one of the most useful natural resources available to man – for building, for cooking, for generating heat and energy. Ensuring people across the world make the most of this renewable resource, while protecting the wildlife habitat it provides and ensuring their majesty remains for generations to come, is one of the great challenges and opportunities of our time.
The argument is that one way to balance those needs is to provide a seal of approval for wood harvested in the United States and across the world, in the form of forest certification. A number of certification systems exist, and the competition between these systems often moves beyond the best science and instead reflects the values promoted by the sponsors of those systems.
Certification has also become a tool used by environmental groups to harm international trade. While certification systems originally sought to provide an economic incentive to cater to a particular market, many in the environmental community have abandoned that approach in favor of using certification as a trade restriction. The ironic result is that developing countries are left without opportunities for economic growth, and poverty is one of the greatest threats not just to human dignity, but also to the environment. Using certification as a trade restriction is likely to leave developing world communities without the prosperity or resources necessary to eventually meet the Western standards that environmental groups claim to support.
This website is designed to highlight the tradeoffs, successes and failures of various certification systems and their application. We will regularly examine:
- The science, or lack thereof, behind the various certification systems.
- The value systems and assumptions that lie behind certification brands.
- How those systems are applied and the inconsistencies of that application.
- The role environmental groups play in influencing or coercing businesses to adopt certain certification systems.
- The tradeoffs of the systems as they are applied on the ground
- The goal is to improve the understanding and enlighten the debate of the various systems, the incentives they provide to practice sustainable forestry, and to explore the potential improvements in the science those systems rely on.
We rely on a team of forestry experts and scientists to provide insight into these issues, and welcome the feedback of those interested in these issues.