My forest is certified by the American Tree Farm system, the world’s oldest forest certification plan. It is affiliated with the Sustainable Forest Initiative (SFI). Nobody can care for his forest more than I do. Yet the wood I grow sustainably on land that has been growing sustainable forests for generations is not edible to be used in LEEDs buildings because of they only accept wood certified by the politically better connected Forestry Stewardship Council (FSC). Silly and harmful to America.
MOST American certified forests are SFI certified. Three quarters of our continent’s wood is not FSC certified. That means that when you build a LEED building – supposedly “green” – you pay more for the wood AND there is a good chance that the wood will come from someplace outside the United States. It will be shipped to the U.S. on trucks and ships burning fossil fuel, so you end up paying more to create more pollution.
So let’s sum this up. You want to build a “green” building, so you look to LEEDs standards. But the standard themselves force you to use wood that is less environmentally friendly, costs more and employs fewer Americans because you are locked into FCS wood. I looked into these certification schemes. The differences on the ground between SFI and FSC are impossible to find. The Society of American Foresters says “FSC or better is neither logical nor scientific, especially when it continues to reinforce misconceptions about third-party forest certification and responsible forest practices.” I chose American Tree Farm System for my land because it was well established with a long and good history in the U.S. I know for sure it works.
FSC is more politically active. They have lots of allies among urban greens. People like my neighbors spend more time working their land than thinking about PC and PR. So FSC manages to intimidate and trick people into thinking that they have a monopoly on sustainable forestry. They don’t. They are just more political and less American.
I know that few people reading this know or care much about this. You probably have seen FSC or SFI logos on your wood or paper products w/o paying attention. Certification for timber in North America is not an issue. There is little illegal logging in the U.S. Most landowners certify their land as a way of affirming their commitment to the land ethic and their neighbors. IMO, FSC and SFI provide nearly identical “protection” for the forests, but if you want American wood, you may want to go with SFI.
In any case, don’t be impressed by the LEED standards. And if you or your government is tied into using only FSC wood, you are probably paying too much and costing jobs in American forests.