Why they hate LEED in Georgia

There is a continuing war in the American woods over green certification of lumber. For background, see related links to the left.

They grow a lot of pine trees in the State of Georgia, mostly for pulpwood. Not much of it is FSC certified; the Forest Stewardship Council permits plantations under its Principle 10, but "promotes the restoration and conservation of natural forests." FSC tries to limit clear-cutting "to ensure that forest managers provide adequate habitat for species associated with large trees or decaying trees and dead wood. The expectation applies to all stands, silvicultural systems, and harvest objectives."

Last year, the Governor of Georgia pretty much banned LEED for State projects, because it gives a point (1 out of 110) for the use of FSC certified lumber. But that's not good enough for the Republican Party in Georgia; the ban doesn't apply to schools districts, municipalities and counties. So at their convention they moved:

BE IT RESOLVED that the Georgia Republican Party will actively discourage the use of LEED certification. All delegates to this convention are hereby charged to protect Georgia’s timber industry by going home and encouraging their local elected officials to follow Governor Deal’s lead. All local projects should recognize all timber certifications equally.

Peach Pundit sums up the perceived problems with FSC, and they are not just about clearcut size.

LEED uses the international FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) certification for wood. This certification actively and openly discourages pine plantations.

For the free marketeers, the problems are legion. The FSC agreement addresses labor relations, the community interests in private property, and even how much timberland can be clearcut at a time. The limit, unless there are extenuating market demands, is 40 acres. The exception allows for 80 acres. For people with hundreds or thousands of acres of pines, this is simply not acceptable. It also negates the advantage most of Georgia has in the speed with which pine trees reach maturity by forcing harvesting over an extended period of time..... FSC also prefers naturally mixed woodlands; making mass planting of trees, harvesting of pine straw, and efficient harvesting of trees impossible or very nearly impossible. Pine trees are a crop.

So there it is: Georgian free marketers don't like people looking at the way they treat their employees, how many thousands of acres they chop at once, and think of the forest as little more than a big Christmas tree farm.

Actually, FSC certified wood looks better all the time.

Tags: Georgia USA | Green Building | LEED

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