#025 / 1999

This article begins a series about the issues surrounding the designation "certified wood" - timber that is harvested from responsibly managed forests and monitored through to the final product. In a future issue furniturelink will investigate the so-called "chain-of-custody" requirements of certification and how they affect the designer, manufacturer and end consumer.

Coast seeks certification

"Certified" wood is in demand, and, globally, the demand exceeds the supply. Though a relatively new concept, the certification of wood is a trend that will continue for the foreseeable future. The demand is primarily for use in the production of visible, high-value items such as furniture, which should enable BC to develop a diversified, value-created industry based on this material.

During the past year, BC's awareness of the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), an international organization that accredits other certifying bodies, has increased markedly. Since January, BC applications for membership climbed to over 20, representing approximately 10 per cent of the total FSC membership internationally. Members in BC include various-sized forest companies, environmental groups, trade unions, and several First Nations. This increase in membership reflects the decision by BC forest companies and smaller woodlot owners to seek FSC certification.

Founded in 1993, the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) is an international, independent, non-governmental organization promoting environmentally appropriate, socially beneficial and economically viable forest management.

Lignum Limited and Western Forest Products have formally begun the assessment process, and Fletcher Challenge, a large pulp and paper company, has applied to become chain-of-custody certified. The non-profit Silva Forest Foundation (SFF), based in Slocan Park, and KPMG, both West Coast Canadian certifying organizations, have also formally applied to become FSC-accredited. The results of Silva's accreditation will be announced after the FSC International Board meets in October.

As part of the process of becoming a FSC-accredited certifier, Silva Forest Foundation conducted audits that were subsequently evaluated to determine compliance with FSC processes. If Silva's application is successful, forests certified by Silva will become FSC-certified forests. Rod Blake's 600-hectare forest, located in the Williams Lake Forest District, is one of the forests that may carry the FSC logo as early as November 1999. Blake uses the timber from his forest to supply his other business, Spoken Mountain Timbers, that will also have the FSC logo pending Silva's success.

The Silva Forest Foundation is a BC-based, non-profit society whose directors have been involved, for over 25 years, in practising and promoting ecologically responsible forest use or ecoforestry. As part of this work, SFF has developed an ecosystem-based certification program that rewards ecoforesters, promotes a value-added wood products industry, and offers consumers a responsible choice. SFF’s involvement with certification began in 1992 when SFF wrote a report on
the status of certification throughout the world, and expanded in 1993 when SFF became a founding member of the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) at its initial meeting in Toronto. In 1994, SFF published its first set of standards for ecologically responsible timber management as part of a joint effort with certifiers in California, Oregon, and British Columbia.
Update: As of September, 2020, the Silva Forest Foundation is no longer an active organization.

The first draft of the BC FSC Regional Standards was recently released for public comment. In June 1999, an election for the four FSC chambers (Social, First Nations, Economic, and Environmental) was held. Steering committee members include representatives from the Shuswap Nation Tribal Council, First Nations Summit, Lignum Ltd., Brink Forest Products, Greenpeace, Sierra Club of BC, Harrop-Procter Watershed Protection Society, and Kootenay Conference on Forest Alternatives. The committee will design and implement the regional certification standards consultation process in BC.

Ornamentum Furniture, Vancouver, is the first furniture manufacturer to apply for chain-of-custody certification through the SFF Eco-Cert program (see issue #027). Given the worldwide interest in the use of certified wood, more local furniture manufacturers are sure to do the same.

furniturelink thanks Vivian Peachey of the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) and Cam Brewer of the Silva Forest Foundation (SFF) for contributing to this article.

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