SpruceRoots Magazine - April, 1999

BC gets its first eco-certified woodlot

The main haul road in BC's first eco-certified woodlot is very narrow, curved to fit the landscape, and engineered ensure stability and minimal forest degradation.

On March 11, 1999, the Silva Forest Foundation announced the certification of Rod Blake's 600 hectare woodlot in central British Columbia. After careful evaluation and broad consultation, the Silva Forest Foundation (SFF) has awarded eco-certification to Cariboo woodlot licensee Rod Blake, marking the emergence of BC into a rapidly expanding global market for certified wood products.

"Our certification program highlights what can truly be done in the forests of BC. By logging in an ecologically responsible manner, by maintaining benefits locally, and by truly valuing the wood in BC, certified ecoforesters not only protect our forests, they are also building the foundation for long-term, high-value employment - a future we can all look forward to," says certification evaluator Herb Hammond.

For Blake, whose 600-hectare woodlot east of 150 Mile House, this long-term vision is critical. "My management philosophy is one that spans not just decades, but generations. I can log responsibly, I can make money at it, and I can pass a healthy forest on to my children. Silva's certification understands the importance of this approach and rewards me with recognition and increased market access."

SFF has lined up various markets for the certified wood from Blake's woodlot, including Alliance Timber Frames of Nakusp, BC. Alliance has re-trained displaced loggers, and has a profitable export market for garden shelters. By using certified wood, Alliance hopes to tap into the large US market for certified wood products. "I'm very excited about this announcement. Finally I can source certified wood from BC, and meet my market demand," said President Richard Olgivie.

SFF is a BC-based non-profit society whose directors have been involved, for over 25 years, in practising and promoting ecologically responsible forest use.

As part of this work, SFF has developed a thorough set of standards for evaluating ecoforestry operations seeking certification, including ecological standards for maintaining the forest ecosystems; social standards for community, First Nation, and worker involvement; and economic standards for ensuring equitable distribution of financial benefits. The SFF evaluation process includes a thorough review of plans, field visits, discussions with personnel, and assessments of ecological, social and economic impacts. Only those operations that meet its rigorous, pre- determined, ecosystem-based standards are awarded certification.
SFF is a founding member and has applied for accreditation with the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) - an international body that accredits and monitors certifiers.

SFF also offers "chain-of-custody" certification which tracks certified wood through various stages of transportation and processing, to the final product. This allows wood product manufacturers to place the certified mark on finished products, which in turn provides consumers with a choice in the marketplace.
SFF chain-of-custody certification supports a value-added wood products industry, and opens the door to the growing global market for certified wood products.

Certification is a fairly new idea, but the demand for certified forest products has already exploded. Globally, the demand is clearly in excess of supply, and will likely remain so for the foreseeable future. A great deal of this demand is coming from about a dozen "buyers' groups", which consist of companies that have pledged to buy only certified wood products by a certain date. Since 1997, the global flow of certified wood has increased from 1% to almost 7% of the total wood market, and is continuing to grow rapidly.

For more information on this subject check out the web site of the Silva Forest Foundation.

SpruceRoots Magazine - April, 1999