Aug 01 2011

Sustainable Business Oregon: Building healthy forests by building right


Thank you, Kelley Beamer and the folks at Cascadia Region Green Building Council, for sharing this important information!

Build healthy forests by building right
From Sustainable Business Oregon
July 28, 2011
By Kelley Beamer, Cascadia Region Green Building Council

Each time a new building is designed, constructed or renovated, builders have an opportunity to support healthy and resilient forests by choosing sustainably harvested wood products.

Thanks largely to growth in the green building sector and the uptake of Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design — LEED — building certification, several forestry standards have entered the market.

The most rigorous standard was developed by the nonprofit Forest Stewardship Council. The organization, known as the FSC, promotes responsible management of the world’s forests. FSC certification is a voluntary, market-based tool that ensures the highest biological and ethical standards were followed from forest to mill. FSC contains more performance-based criteria than any other standard in North America and follows strict requirements for assessing and conserving old growth and biodiversity.

The standard is also dedicated to protecting the rights of indigenous peoples on public and private lands and is the only certification system that outright prohibits genetically modified organisms. When lined up to other forestry standards, the FSC certification holds the highest bar.

In Oregon, we have several FSC-certified forests that represent both family-owned forests and large-scale land, like the FSC forest managed by the Warm Springs Tribe. As of March 2011, there were 548,379 acres of certified forests in Oregon. These forests provide an alternative to industrial timber harvesting, which have caused soil erosion and landslides that damage habitat and drinking water.

To date, the key problem has been linking these local forest products to the local builders who can source them. The good news is that the opportunity is growing.

Sustainable Northwest Wood is filling the critical role of connecting customers to wood sourced from sustainably managed forests and family owned mills in the Pacific Northwest. Just as farmers’ markets connect people to the farmers that grow their food, Sustainable NW Wood connects builders to foresters.

The organization operates a warehouse in Southeast Portland that provides builders with immediate delivery of specific wood orders. Each wood order carries with it a story about its place of origin. The premium of FSC wood varies, but in many cases Sustainable Northwest Wood is finding that they can supply at costs comparable to non-certified wood.

The building community has a major role to play with ensuring the future of our forests by building with certified sustainable forest products that address the triple bottom line of people, planet and prosperity. FSC products provide a value added product that can put Oregon in a leadership position for sourcing local wood and protect the long-term health of our local communities.