September 2003

Forest Friendliness

Distributors Want Products Made with Wood from 
Well-Managed Forests

by Samantha Carpenter

Forest stewardship has become an important consideration for many companies. More and more manufacturers are choosing to become affiliated with a forest certification program to let their customers and the end user know that their products are made from wood that comes from a well-managed forest.

(You can read about how the top three forest certification programs—the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), the Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI) and the Canada National Standards International’s Forest Products Group (CSA)—differ by reading the article “A Green Education,” which was published in the September 2002 issue of SHELTER. You can read the article online at by clicking on “Search Archives.”)

This year’s article on forest certification is designed to update you on the top three forest certification programs as well as give you feedback from partner companies.

FSC Starts Pilot Testing
In July, the FSC started pilot testing a set of new draft standards for chain of custody and labeling chip and fiber materials and products in July. The organization also plans to pilot-test a new approach to chain of custody and labeling for sawn wood products.

The German-based group says it is looking to gain input on requirements for excluding controversial wood from FSC-certified products: the practicality of a new approach to chain of custody for sawn wood products and new requirements for verifying recycled/reclaimed material.

The pilot testing is designed to encourage collaboration among FSC, accredited certification bodies and others in the development and testing of FSC standards. It enables the organization to work closely with companies to test the new standards before they are finalized.

FSC will delay finalization of the new chain of custody standards until 2004, so it can consider pilot-testing feedback.

SFI Releases Eighth Annual Progress Report
Washington, D.C.-based SFI recently released its Eighth Annual Progress Report. The organization says the 26-page report highlights major accomplishments of the SFI program in 2002, as well as challenges the organization feels it must overcome in the future.

While SFI cited achievements in 2002 from the enhancements to protect ecological communities, biodiversity hotspots and major tropical wilderness areas worldwide to enhancements to help curb illegal logging, and more, it’s important to note some of the main concerns in forests today that may affect SFI and may need to be addressed in future years.

According to the organization, concerns are:

- The increasing fragmentation and parcelization of private forestlands;

- The loss of markets, particularly for low-quality materials;

- An increasing risk of uncharacteristic wildfire losses, particularly in the West, due to the fuel conditions that have accumulated; and

- Invasive species are a constant threat to forest ecosystems, and as travel and trade increases, the ability of exotic species to “hitch a ride” into forests expands as well.

The entire report can be viewed by visiting the website of the American Forest & Paper Association, 

SFI’s parent organization, at

CSA Publishes New Standard
The Canadian Standards Association, headquartered in Mississauga, Ontario, has released the new edition of its standard on sustainable forest management, CSA Z809-02. The organization says the goal of the standard is to help ensure the sustainable management of Canada’s forest.

The new standard combines CSA’s guidance and requirements standards—Z809:1996 and Z808:1996—into a single comprehensive document. This new edition outlines the requirements that forest managers must follow to demonstrate to customers and the public that forests are managed in an inclusive, responsible and sustainable manner. 

The standard also includes new elements addressing important sustainability issues, such as protected areas, biological diversity, Aboriginal rights and new requirements that reflect the current national and international views on sustainable forest management.

Companies Respond
VT Industries, a wood door manufacturer in Holstein, Iowa, has an FSC certification.
“VT supports the FSC’s efforts because we recognize the need for ecologically-sound harvesting that is socially- and economically-beneficial to various communities. As an industry leader, we must set an example that reflects our responsibility to conserve forests and their wildlife,” said Rick Liddell, vice president for the company’s architectural doors division.

“For years, we have recognized this responsibility by using water-based stains and solvent-free sealers and topcoats, which eliminates harmful VOCs (volatile organic compounds) from being released into the atmosphere. Our certification by SmartWood is further evidence of our ongoing effort to bring environmentally responsible products to the marketplace.” 

According to John Fell, VT corporate purchasing manager, FSC certification has become the system of choice for many architects specifying certified wood doors. “Achieving certification qualifies VT architectural wood doors for the rapidly growing number of ‘green’ building projects around the U.S.,” Fell said.

Bayport, Minn.-based Andersen Windows recently announced that it will no longer buy Chilean wood products unless they are certified by FSC, according to ForestEthics, a group formed to protect endangered forests by changing the way paper and wood are made and used in America. The decision was made in an effort to protect Chile’s endangered native forests and indigenous communities. 

According to the group, Andersen follows Alexandria Moulding and Golden State Lumber, which made the same move last year.

“Andersen’s decision sends a powerful message to Chile’s government and wood products industry: U.S. companies will no longer participate in the destruction of Chile’s native forest and native peoples,” said Aaron Sanger, director of the campaign.

MAi Wood Doors & Stair Parts of Wylie, Texas, became involved with FSC because the company felt it was important that wood for its products come from well-managed forests that adhere to strict environmental and socioeconomic standards.

“The FSC certification program incorporates these same goals and fits our philosophy perfectly. We have been very happy with this program,” said Paul Bellows, vice president of sales and marketing. 

MAi’s customers have been happy with the FSC affiliation too. 

“The response from our distributors has been both of gratitude and commendation. Some who sell chains with multiple locations and the big-box stores say it is very helpful to them. Many of our West Coast distributors are especially glad we started offering FSC-certified products because those states were some of the first to bring attention to the issues the FSC addresses,” said Bellows.

Owens Forest Products of Duluth, Minn., originally was involved with FSC through SmartWood.

“This was not very successful and as a result of that experience of being with them for two years, we dropped out and got on the program with SFI,” said Bob Owens, president and chief executive officer. 

The company’s customers like knowing that products are backed by a forest certification program. 

“Basically, there hasn’t been a strong demand or expectation that we label anything yet; however, there has been a comfort level for customers knowing that we are participating in some sort of sustainable forestry program,” Owens said.

Atlanta-based Georgia-Pacific Corp. (G-P) is also involved with SFI. 

“One of the reasons Georgia-Pacific chose SFI is because the program was developed by professional foresters, conservationists and scientists. It’s based on the premise that responsible environmental practices and sound business practices can be integrated and put together to the benefit of landowners, shareholders and customers,” said Meg Fligg, spokesperson for Georgia-Pacific.

“Customers, as well as Georgia-Pacific, recognize that there are a number of different forestry certifications available, and we continue to work with our customers on forestry and certification issues that address each one of their specific needs,” she said.

B.W. Creative Wood Industries of Maple Ridge, British Columbia, is certified by FSC and by CSA International’s Forest Products Group.

The company says it uses raw material that is harvested only from sustainable, well-managed forestlands. It is committed to providing premium quality products and ensuring long-term forest health. B.W. is able to document and verify its complete process from the forest to the end user.

Info  FSC, SFI and CSA, 
please visit their websites at:


Samantha Carpenter is the editor of SHELTER magazine.



© Copyright Key Communications Inc. All rights reserved. No reproduction of any type without expressed written permission.