Certification recognizes landowner’s conservation ethics
And gives forest products buyers a seal of approval
Many landowners and forest manufacturers in Idaho seek certification of their forestry practices through third-party certification programs because companies and consumers that buy forest products want assurances they are buying from responsibly managed forest lands. Certification systems rely on accredited, independent, third-party auditors verifying that on-the-ground practices meet program standards giving forest products buyers a “green label” seal of approval. Participation in certification programs is voluntarily and at the owner’s expense.
What is Forest Certification?
Forest certification is the certification of land management practices to a standard of sustainability. A written certification is issued by an independent third-party that attests to the sustainable management of a working forest. Forest certification gives consumers assurance that products they purchase originate from sustainably managed forests that protect economic, social and environmental benefits.
The Sustainable Forestry Initiative and the American Tree Farm System are two such third-party certifiers.
Sustainable Forestry Initiative
The SFI promotes responsible forestry practices based on 13 principles, 15 objectives, 37 performance measures and 101 indicators that promote sustainable forest management. These requirements include measures to protect water quality, biodiversity, wildlife habitat, species at risk and forests with exceptional conservation value.
The 13 principles of the SFI are:
- To broaden the implementation of sustainable forestry by ensuring long-term harvest levels based on the use of the best scientific information available.
- To ensure long-term forest productivity and conservation of forest resources through prompt reforestation, soil conservation, afforestation, and other measures.
- To protect water quality in streams, lakes, and other water bodies.
- To manage the quality and distribution of wildlife habitats and contribute to the conservation of biological diversity by developing and implementing stand- and landscape-level measures that promote habitat diversity and the conservation of forest plants and animals, including aquatic fauna.
- To manage the visual impact of harvesting and other forest operations.
- To manage participant’s lands that are ecologically, historically or culturally important in a manner that recognizes its special qualities.
- To promote the efficient use of forest resources.
- To broaden the practice of sustainable forestry through procurement programs.
- To improve forestry research, science, and technology, upon which sound forest management decisions are based.
- To improve the practice of sustainable forest management by resource professionals, logging professionals, and contractors through appropriate training and education programs.
- Commitment to comply with applicable federal, provincial, state, or local laws and regulations.
- To broaden the practice of sustainable forestry by encouraging the public and forestry community to participate in the commitment to sustainable forestry and publicly report progress.
- To promote continual improvement in the practice of sustainable forestry and monitor, measure, and report performance in achieving the commitment to sustainable forestry.
American Tree Farmers Certification
Forest owners seeking certification from the American Tree Farmers Certification program must demonstrate a commitment to forest vitality by developing and implementing a sustainable forest management plan that includes these 8 standards:
- Commitment to Practicing Sustainable Forestry Forest owner demonstrates a commitment to forest vitality by developing and implementing a sustainable forest management plan.
- Compliance with Laws Forest management activities comply with all relevant federal, state, and local laws, regulations, and ordinances.
- Reforestation and Afforestation Forest owner completes timely restocking of desired species of trees on harvested sites and non-stocked areas where tree growing is consistent with land use practices and the forest owner’s management objectives.
- Air, Water, and Soil Protection Forest management practices maintain or enhance the environment and ecosystems, including air, water, soil, and site quality.
- Fish, Wildlife, and Biodiversity Forest management activities contribute to the conservation of biodiversity.
- Forest Aesthetics Forest management plans and management activities recognize the value of forest aesthetics
- Protect Special Sites Special sites are managed in ways that recognize their unique historical, archeological, cultural, geological, biological, or ecological characteristics.
- Forest Product Harvests and Other Activities Forest product harvests and other management activities are conducted in accordance with the management plan and consider other forest values.
Sustainable Forestry Initiative and the Forest Stewardship Council
Two certification systems are employed on participating industrial, state and county lands in the US: the Sustainable Forestry Initiative and the Forest Stewardship Council. Non-industrial private forest landowners also have the opportunity to participate in the American Tree Farm certification process. The guidelines for this standard are based on the smaller size and infrequency of harvest on most of these forestlands.
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