A Day in the Woods
A nice clear, cool day in the Collins Almanor Forest today where I visited Collins Lumber Company in Chester, CA. Collins is our supply partner for the FSC Certified Incense-cedar lumber used in our own ForestChoice Pencils and CalCedar’s FSC Certified pencil slats supplied to manufacturer such as Caran d’Ache.
It was nice to be back in a more rural forest setting even if just for the day including stopping in town for a Latte at The Coffee Station. Chester at this time of year has a great feel of small town America, not so busy as during the Summer months with all the vacationers to Lake Almanor and the Lassen National Park. Checking the local paper over coffee the big news of the day was a classic example of a small town scandal. The front page story discusses the community healing process initiated to come to terms with the decision of the local high school principal to dispose of 25-30 sports trophies. In one of my favorite comments one Alumni stated that disposing of the trophies showed a “total lack of understanding about small schools and small towns.”
Following our productive meeting with Collins Pine we drove to Redding to meet with another supplier Sierra Pacific Industries which provides our cedar lumber under the Sustainable Forest Initiative (SFI) & PEFC certification programs. Our drive took us through the Collins Almanor Forest, Lassen National Forest, Lassen Volcanic National Park and timberlands owned by Sierra Pacific. The two forest images here are of the Collins including a small group of Incense-cedar trees about 50 years old plus the Coffee Station.
In an upcoming post I’ll be covering some more detailed updates and views on issues related to the FSC and SFI/PEFC certification schemes as well as information related to the developing carbon offset credit market with respect to California forests.
I went to the SFI site and it seems that certification in North America is based on following applicable laws. In my mind "sustainable" forest practices would go beyond the law into forest practices which perpetuate the forest and its environment, without using practices such as clearcutting (and its synonyms). These drastic practices severely interrupt the normal growth, decay, and regeneration cycle. The SFI does not seem to have a strict enough standard to be considered "sustainable"; this makes me suspicious that they are greenwashing.
Yes, there are definitely important differences between the SFI and FSC certification programs as well as certain controversies and legal challenges currently going on against both programs from different interest groups. Certainly there is an increasing degree of market positioning and sorting out going on between these and other forest certification programs around the world. As I noted this is going to be the subject of an upcoming more detailed post comparing and contrasting the two programs. I will also address some of the important practical issues related to implementing certification programs around the world.
It appears to me that there's actually not much difference between SFI and FSC. Under both system, clearcutting is possible, chemicals are allowed, plantations are possible…. Though perhaps we might actually want to leave it up to the experts to decide what is sustainable and what is not sustainable. After all, many of us thought that diesel engines were bad, only to learn that there are more efficient than gasoline engines…