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Forest certification article missed facts

Your recent article about forest certification in Sustainable Life (Pulp fiction?, News-Times, Aug. 14 issue) missed important facts about the Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI).

First, SFI is an independent organization governed with equal representation from conservation, economic and social stakeholders. You cited Forest Stewardship Council’s supporters but did not report that SFI’s Board of Directors includes representatives of The Conservation Fund, Ducks Unlimited Canada, Bird Studies Canada, the Manomet Center for Conservation Studies, the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership, several academic foresters and the state forester of Maryland.

Second, the notion that an FSC-labeled product indicates the product comes from land in which clear cuts have been restricted to “six acres” is inaccurate. FSC has no clear-cutting restrictions over at least 45 percent of the land certified to that standard.

On conversion of forestland to other uses, there is no significant difference between SFI and FSC. Both require participants to exclude lands slated for development from certified areas.

On chemical use, the “SFI Standard” requires use of chemicals to be the least toxic and narrowest spectrum pesticides and herbicides to achieve forest management objectives and to use integrated pest management wherever feasible. Meanwhile, FSC has granted at least 74 exemptions for companies to use “FSC-banned” chemicals — which leaves consumers in doubt about the veracity of FSC claims to forbid these chemicals.

SFI also promotes responsible forestry in many ways other than through the standard: through our “Chain of Custody” and certified sourcing labels; by investing in conservation research; by working directly with communities to promote sustainable practices; and through the innovative Forest Partners program.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture, National Association of State Foresters and others have said the SFI, FSC and other certification programs all can be accepted as evidence of sustainable forestry. The reason that “academics and government foresters are avoiding the fight” is that they know the differences between SFI and FSC are insignificant compared with the need to promote responsible, science-based forest practices, regardless of the approach.

Kathy Abusow

President and CEO, Sustainable Forestry Initiative, Inc.

Washington, D.C.




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