SFI, FSC, CSA and LEED II

We had 62 comments on the previous post here, but annoyingly the columns get smaller and smaller the more comments and replies you have and at some point they get hard to read. I think we reached that point. We are working on this by moving the blog, but for now, I’ll just start another post on the SFI -CSA-LEED question.

First of all, I would like to express my appreciation to Jason for engaging in this dialogue. If I stand back from all this, I see that when groups use hype to make their points and accuse others of bad intentions, certain personalities (if there is a “natural resource professional” personality,) just tunes them out and erects a barrier for self-protection. The problem with the barriers (on both sides, and you can extrapolate to partisan dialogue about a lot of things) is that we can’t listen to others because we don’t like to be maligned. But if you think peace is good, and that the best ideas for our mutual future come from a diverse group, then there is no alternative to talking across our comfort zones. As a Denver metro area resident, I see this more often with the energy industry. Anyway, I really appreciate that Jason has given us so many thoughtful comments.

One of his comments that I found very interesting was this one about sustainability and cutting 40% of the total land area at once. This is something we can work with.

Sustainability, Montreal Process and CSA

So if we go back to the definition of sustainability, as a bureaucrat I would tend to go with the Montreal Process Criteria and Indicators here. They are really designed for countries, though, so let’s go to the CSA standard, in which our northern neighbors consciously stepped down the C&I to specific land management.

Here’s how they started, so they don’t seem to have the same “industry dominated heritage” of SFI.

CAN/CSA-Z809 – Canada’s National Standard for Sustainable Forest Management
CSA worked with a diverse range of stakeholders interested in sustainable forest management to develop

Canada’s National Standard for Sustainable Forest Management (SFM) CAN/CSA-Z809. A volunteer technical committee, representing consumers, environmental groups, government, industry, Aboriginal, academia and other stakeholders was established to develop the Standard. CSA committees are created using a “balanced matrix” approach, which means that each committee is structured to capitalize on the combined strengths and expertise of its members – with no single group dominating over the content of a CSA standard.

This voluntary Standard, developed by an open and transparent multi-stakeholder consensus-based process, resulted in an endorsement by the Standards Council of Canada as a National Standard of Canada.

The CAN/CSA-Z809 SFM Standard, developed according to an internationally recognized and accredited standards development process, is based on the international Helsinki and Montréal processes. It incorporates Canada’s own national SFM criteria, which were developed by the Canadian Council of Forest Ministers. The Standard links adaptive forest management to forest certification through three key requirements:

Performance Requirements
Public Participation Requirements
System Requirements

Now remember, major US imports are from Canada.
here is the 2012 Certification report from Canada.

Canada leads the world in attaining third-party sustainable forest management certification. This independent verification provides added assurance of responsible forest practices from a country with some of the world’s toughest and well-enforced forestry regulations.

The phenomenal growth of forest certification in Canada has been spurred on by a forest industry commitment to third-party certification. In 2002 the Forest Products Association of Canada (FPAC) – whose members manage the vast majority of the commercial forest in Canada – became the only national forest trade association in the world to require members to certify their operations to any of the three major, credible standards recognized in Canada:

Canadian Standards Association (CAN CSA/Z809 or Z804)
Forest Stewardship Council (FSC)
Sustainable Forestry Initiative® Program (SFI)

Four years later that goal was met. This commitment has been instrumental in spurring the phenomenal growth of forest certification in Canada, allowing the country to meet the growing customer demand for certified forest products.

SFM Certification Status in Canada—2012 Year-end
Standard Used Acronym Area Certified (hectares)
Canadian Standards Association (CAN/CSA-Z804 or Z809) CSA 44,921,371
Forest Stewardship Council FSC 54,080,929
Sustainable Forestry Initiative SFI 57,577,838
Total Certified for all SFM Combined: (some areas double counted) 155,950,138
Total Area Certified: (double counting removed) 147,928,855

So I think that it’s important in the LEED debate to also talk about CSA which doesn’t suffer from SFI’s alliance with timber industry. And in these certification debates, we seldom talk about CSA, despite the fact that about 1/3 of Canadian wood is certified to it.

It’s interesting that the dialogue tends to be from FSC about SFI and not so much about CSA. But even if you think SFI is not sustainable, why shouldn’t LEED give the same credits to CSA?

Now onto a specific example that might be enlightening.

Jay stated that:

In a state like WA or OR, you have to reforest after a regen harvest, but if you own 50,000+ acres and just cut 40% of your landbase over several years, how sustainable is that for local mills in the coming years (many now severed from a source of timber), ecological processes and organisms dependent on later seres or successional stages of forests? How is that sustainable for workers and communities when so many harvests were crammed into such a short period of time that labor/contractors had to be imported from outside of the community, only to leave when the cutting is done .

Now my read of any standard (SFI, CSA and FSC) is that cutting 40% of your landbase within several years would not meet the criteria. If we knew what company that was, maybe we could investigate how SFI treated it.

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