The Local Movement Comes to Forestry


In the food world there is the debate between "organic" and "local" and the idea of looking your farmer in the eye. It appears that much the same thing is happening in wood- there is certified FSC lumber, and there is local, sustainably harvested lumber where you look your forester in the eye. There is even a National Network of Forest Practitioners that "promotes the mutual well being of workers, rural communities, and forests by supporting individuals and groups that build sustainable relationships between forests and people."

Scott Bagley of NNFP from Lloyd Alter on Vimeo.

The interview cuts out abruptly when my camera runs out of juice.

It is the kind of thing that TreeHugger loves, an organization that supports "people who are deeply committed to the dream of a world where rural people have good living-wage jobs, communities are inclusive and democratic, and where forests are sustained and not depleted."


An example is is the story behind this window. In 2002 Peter Stark thinned out some of the larch scrub on land he owned in Montana, and milled it into lumber, and founding North Slope Sustainable Wood. He started with floors, branded "Treadlight" that he calls "greener than green":

Generally, the word "sustainable" refers to wood products harvested from commercial forests that produce a steady, ongoing (thus "sustainable") yield of wood. Going beyond "sustainable," our harvesting process restores the forests of the Northern Rockies to their "old growth" conditions. We do this by culling out overcrowded, small-diameter larch trees to allow the largest and healthiest trees to thrive and using the small trees with their tight growth rings for our stunning Treadlight.

He then worked with a local window manufacturer, Clawson Windows of Missoula, Montana, and offers windows made entirely of wood harvested from forest restoration sites.


As with the local vs organic issue, there is the question of certification. Treadlight claims that their forestry standards exceed FSC, and will provide purchasers with a certificate tracking the wood from forest to home.

On orders of 700 square feet and over, we offer you at no extra charge a "natural history" of your unique floor and trim. It tells you where in the Northern Rockies your Treadlight flooring and trim originated, including the exact latitude and longitude of the restored piece of forest, name of the mountain valley, nearest creek, and the general topography. It describes the type of forest, what animals and other plants inhabit it, and which Indian tribes used it for subsistence. You'll know the age of the trees, and the dates that forest fires swept through the land.

But in the end it all comes down to trust. With small landholdings where you look your forester in the eye, that can work.

More on the National Network of Forest Practitioners

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