Thursday, July 12, 2012

Green Lumber Certification Standards

Green certification of lumber is very important as the responsible harvesting of trees can go a long way towards protecting our environment. Forests are the lungs of the earth, they provide oxygen and help to remove carbon from the atmosphere. There are at least five eco friendly certification standards in use across North America: 1) American Tree Farm Systems, 2) Canadian Standards Association, 3) Forest Stewardship Council, 4) Programme for Endorsement of Forest Certification Schemes and 5) Sustainable Forestry Initiative. Of these programs, the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) and the Sustainability Forest Initiative (SFI) are the most widely used for determining whether wood is green and sustainable.

SFI and FSC certification does not differ too much on the three central issues of sustainable timber production: 1) chain of custody, 2) labeling of products and 3) use of non-certified wood in final products. Participants are required to have an auditable monitoring system for all flows of wood that they deal with or a chain of custody from harvest all the way to the manufacture of finished wood designs. Both systems use their own set of labels to identify wood and wood products that adhere to their sustainable certification standards. These labels reflect the percentage of material from certified forests. Both the SFI and the FSC strictly prohibit the use of illegally harvested timber for use in certified products as illegal logging typically results in tremendous damage to the local ecosystem.

A new report by the Union of Concerned Scientists shows that most illegal hardwood comes from tropical forests for use in furniture, cabinets and home décor. The Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) report was released on April 16, 2012 and it deals with how the US Lacey Act combats illegal logging.  The report outlines how illegal logging poses a significant threat to the US economy and endangers tropical ecosystems around the world.  

© 2012, Richard Matthews. All rights reserved.

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