A Picture Is Worth: FSC vs SFI Forests
Image via Heart of Green
I love wood buildings, and think wood is one of the greenest building materials around, but only if the forests are managed sustainably. The Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI) is doing a major ad campaign to convince everyone that "The New Environmentalist" proudly stands in is pyjamas in front of his SFI-built Mcmansion reading his SFI-pulp newspaper. But you just need to look at the picture above to see that SFI does not promote sustainable forest management or control clear-cutting. And that is just the start of it.
More on SFI here
Now, the industry apparently is lobbying the US Green Building Council to permit SFI timber as suitable for credit under LEED. They are also working at the State level to convince governments that Green Globes, a questionable certification set up by the lumber industry-founded Green Building Initiatives, should be acceptable certification for Green building requirements. They just added Florida and Indiana to their list of seventeen states that accept Green Globes.
In a recent SFI newsletter, Ward Hubbell of Green Globes gloats: "by allowing for more than one rating system, the states are providing the kind of choice necessary to encourage mainstream design and building professionals to accelerate the adoption of green building practices."
FSC is not perfect, and SFI is getting better. But SFI and Green Globes were founded but the lumber industry for one reason and one reason only: to stop the spread of FSC and LEED. They appear to be succeeding.
Here is a good summary of the differences from heart of Green:
Forest Stewardship Council (FSC)
Here are the principles of FSC-certified forests:
* Never harvests more than what grows back
* Protects biodiversity and endangered species
* Saves rare ancient trees
* Guards local streams
* Supports the local people
* Uses narrow skidding trails so as not to disrupt the rest of the forest
* Prohibits replacement by tree plantations
* Bans toxic chemicals
* Bans genetically modified trees (no GMO)
In the first year under FSC, you map and inventory all of the trees and assess the biology and the streams. Then you make a sustainable plan that will do the least harm and mimic the natural life and death cycle of the forest. Trees do fall down naturally which we see while hiking!
Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI)
Here is what is allowed under the industry's SFI standard:
* Allows large clearcuts
* Allows logging close to rivers and streams that harms water supplies
* Allows use of toxic chemicals
* Allows conversion of old-growth forests to tree plantations
* Allows use of genetically modified trees
More on FSC, SFI, Green Globes and LEED:
Coming Soon: Greenwashed Lumber
FSC, Gold Standard for Certification, Gets TarnishedFSC, Gold Standard for Certification, Gets Tarnished
Survey: Would You Pay More For Certified Wood?
Ecolabelling.org: Cutting Through the Confusion
Greenwashing in the New Yorker: The Sustainable Forestry Initiative
The TH Interview: Ned Daly of the Forest Stewardship Council in the US