Rumble in the Lumberyard: FSC vs SFI


SFI certified clear cut; Steve Ringman, Seattle Times

There is a major battle going on in the woods, in the courts and in the halls of the US Green Building Council, as the Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI) tries to get LEED changed to accept their certification. We have covered it before, but Monte Paulsen is doing an extensive five-parter in the Tyee that is a must-read.

Part 1 describes how the Future of 'Green' Wood Hangs on US Decision, with FSC on one side, saying "There are big stakes here, and the repercussions will spread across the forest products industry for years."


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Kathy Abusow of SFI thinks otherwise; she says:

"If the USGBC maintains the status quo and does not recognize the SFI Standard, many LEED builders who chase points will turn away reputable third-party certified SFI wood which is grown in their backyard... and instead turn to FSC wood," Abusow said in a prepared statement. "The vast majority of the FSC's global supply comes from overseas and often from countries without effective social laws."

Which might be true, if SFI wood was reputably third-party certified, (which many question) and if FSC did not insist on "effective social laws"

Part 1 gives the history of the organizations; how FSC was founded by environmentalists, and how SFI was founded by the industry in response. SFI is now spun off and is independent, and has become the largest certifier in the world.

Part 2 explains the opposition to SFI from groups like Forest Ethics and the Washington Forest Law Center, where Managing Attorney Peter Goldman explains to the Tyee that it is not like a choice between Coke and Pepsi.

"SFI is status quo forestry with a green seal," Goldman told The Tyee. "When you buy at piece of SFI wood, you are not guaranteed or assured that you are going to get anything more than what ordinary state and federal law requires."

But one has to agree with Kathy Abusow's conclusion:

"We should all be focusing our resources and efforts on supporting responsible forest management and fighting deforestation and illegal logging, not wasting energy on bickering among ourselves."

Fascinating reading in the Tyee: Eco Group's Trade Complaint Targets US Wood Certifier
More on SFI and FSC:
A Picture Is Worth: FSC vs SFI Forests
Greenwashing in the New Yorker: The Sustainable Forestry Initiative
ForestEthics Keeps Up The Pressure against SFI Certification
The War over Eco-Certified Wood

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