Last week, Washington State’s Public Lands Commissioner Doug Sutherland announced that he would seek “green certification” for 1.4 million acres of state forest trust lands in western Washington.
Unfortunately, that news isn’t as welcome as it sounds. The organization that will certify the state’s forests is the Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI), which was started by a timber industry group, the American Forest & Paper Association. A better choice-recommended by groups including Sightline-would have been the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), which has tougher standards than SFI. FSC does a better job of protecting forest ecosystems and timber workers. And the label may also be more popular with consumers; the article on Sutherland’s decision notes that Mike Dunn, vice president of Dunn Lumber, says most buyers shopping for certified wood want to see the Forest Stewardship Council label.
Sutherland does say that he’ll continue talking to the FSC folks, but the fact that Washington also recently decided to raise logging rates by 30 percent doesn’t bode well. In the meantime Mike Cooper, Sutherland’s opponent in this fall’s election, pledged last week to pursue FSC certification if elected.