'Green' seal of approval considered for national forests

  • Rogger Meadow in the South Warner Mountains, part of the Lakeview Federal Stewardship Unit

    USFS
  The Forest Service is considering "green" certification for timber produced on the national forests. And though environmental groups have long touted such certification as a way to improve the management of privately owned forests, they have misgivings about using it for the public lands.

Green certification for lumber is something like organic certification for food; it allows consumers to choose products that have been harvested from sustainably managed forests. In theory, the demand for green lumber will drive more timber companies to use environmentally friendly practices.

"(Certification) has become the language of global conservation," says Forest Service spokesman Dan Jiron. "Why wouldn’t we at least look at it?"

Environmentalists respond that there are plenty of reasons not to consider certification. "Zero-cut" proponents, who believe national forests should be off-limits to all timber harvest, say certification would wrongly legitimize logging on public land. Even those who accept some logging on public land are wary of the idea. "Certification could be used inappropriately to greenwash national forest management," says Rick Brown, a senior resource specialist with Defenders of Wildlife.

Under the pilot program, independent auditors will compare the management of seven national forests to current sustainable-forestry standards. Of the four assessments slated for the West, just one is under way: the Lakeview Federal Stewardship Unit, in southern Oregon’s Fremont-Winema National Forest. The Lakeview Unit has been managed collaboratively since 1998 by agencies, citizens, local businesses and environmental groups, who have agreed on a common goal of restoring the forest’s health (HCN, 9/27/04: A timber town learns to care for the forest).

"It’s a great place to test (certification) standards," says Paul Harlan of the Collins Companies, a timber company that is funding the Lakeview assessment in partnership with the Forest Service.

The Forest Stewardship Council has already certified the Collins Companies’ privately held lands in the region. Forests earn the "green" seal only after a team of independent auditors, including ecologists and social scientists, carries out a rigorous assessment of land-management practices. Auditors check certified forests every five years to ensure their continued sustainability.

Harlan, who is also chair of the Forest Stewardship Council’s board of directors, says that certification is a "powerful conservation tool" that could push national forest managers to become more ecologically sensitive. Certification standards could prohibit timber companies from entering roadless areas, for example, or ban the cutting of old-growth trees.

But to receive actual certification, the forests would have to be evaluated against standards that address concerns specific to public lands. And those standards don’t yet exist: The council says it won’t write them until there is public consensus about the amount of logging that’s appropriate on public lands. Such consensus, everyone agrees, may be a long time coming.

High Country News Classifieds
  • WATERSHED RESTORATION DIRECTOR
    $58k-$70k + benefits to oversee watershed restoration projects that fulfill our strategic goals across urban and rural areas within the bi-national Santa Cruz and San...
  • CUSTOMER SERVICE ASSISTANT - (PART-TIME)
    High Country News, an award-winning media organization covering the communities and environment of the Western United States, seeks a part-time Customer Service Assistant, based at...
  • OPERATIONS DIRECTOR
    We are a Santa Fe-based nonprofit that builds resilience on arid working lands. We foster ecological, economic, and social health through education, innovation, and collaboration....
  • COMMUNITY ORGANIZER
    Come work alongside everyday Montanans to project our clean air, water, and build thriving communities! Competitive salary, health insurance, pension, generous vacation time and sabbatical....
  • CAMPAIGN MANAGER
    Oregon Natural Desert Association (ONDA), a nonprofit conservation organization dedicated to protecting, defending and restoring Oregon's high desert, seeks a Campaign Manager to works as...
  • HECHO DEPUTY DIRECTOR
    Hispanics Enjoying Camping, Hunting, and the Outdoors (HECHO) was created in 2013 to help fulfill our duty to conserve and protect our public lands for...
  • REGIONAL REPRESENTATIVE, COLUMBIA CASCADES
    The Regional Representative serves as PCTA's primary staff on the ground along the trail working closely with staff, volunteers, and nonprofit and agency partners. This...
  • FINANCE AND OPERATIONS DIRECTOR
    The Montana Land Reliance (MLR) seeks a full-time Finance and Operations Director to manage the internal functions of MLR and its nonprofit affiliates. Key areas...
  • DIRECTOR OF CONSERVATION
    The Nature Conservancy is recruiting for a Director of Conservation. Provides strategic leadership and support for all of the Conservancy's conservation work in Arizona. The...
  • EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
    The Amargosa Conservancy (AC), a conservation nonprofit dedicated to standing up for water and biodiversity in the Death Valley region, seeks an executive director to...
  • BIG BASIN SENIOR PROJECT PLANNER - CLIMATE ADAPTATION & RESILIENCE
    Parks California Big Basin Senior Project Planner - Climate Adaptation & Resilience ORGANIZATION BACKGROUND Parks California is a new organization working to ensure that our...
  • SCIENCE PROJECT MANAGER
    About Long Live the Kings (LLTK) Our mission is to restore wild salmon and steelhead and support sustainable fishing in the Pacific Northwest. Since 1986,...
  • HUMAN RESOURCES GENERALIST
    Honor the Earth is an affirmative action/equal opportunity employer and does not discriminate based on identity. Indigenous people, people of color, Two-Spirit or LGBTQA+ people,...
  • DEVELOPMENT DIRECTOR
    Colorado Trout Unlimited seeks an individual with successful development experience, strong interpersonal skills, and a deep commitment to coldwater conservation to serve as the organization's...
  • NEW BOOK BY AWARD-WINNING WILDLIFE BIOLOGIST, BRUCE SMITH
    In a perilous place at the roof of the world, an orphaned mountain goat is rescued from certain death by a mysterious raven.This middle-grade novel,...
  • DESCHUTES LAND TRUST VOLUNTEER PROGRAM MANAGER
    The Deschutes Land Trust is seeking an experienced Volunteer Program Manager to join its dedicated team! Deschutes Land Trust conserves and cares for the lands...
  • PROGRAM DIRECTOR
    Now hiring a full-time, remote Program Director for the Society for Wilderness Stewardship! Come help us promote excellence in the professional practice of wilderness stewardship,...
  • MOUNTAIN LOTS FOR SALE
    Multiple lots in gated community only 5 miles from Great Sand Dunes National Park. Seasonal flowing streams. Year round road maintenance.
  • RURAL ACREAGE OUTSIDE SILVER CITY, NM
    Country living just minutes from town! 20 acres with great views makes a perfect spot for your custom home. Nice oaks and juniper. Cassie Carver,...
  • A FIVE STAR FOREST SETTING WITH SECLUSION AND SEPARATENESS
    This home is for a discerning buyer in search of a forest setting of premier seclusion & separateness. Surrounded on all sides by USFS land...