While Washington’s Department of Natural Resources is patting itself on the back for obtaining forest certification by the the American Forest and Paper Association’s Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI), don’t think that it’s more than a small step toward sustainable forestry for Washington’s trust lands.
SFI standards started as an industry response to the Forest Stewardship Council’s rigorous third-party forest certification system; didn’t gain any third-party status until 2002; and continues to be dominated by industry representatives. Also, its standards are weak—requiring no social sustainability standards such as support to timber-dependent communities, nor any maintenance of ecological functions of a forest, such as water filtration or biodiversity protection, nor do they require an environmental impact statement. Read a great comparison between the two standards by the Meridian Institute and at the Certification Resource Center.
Another way to think of it is this: if the state can receive SFI certification shortly after it reduces riparian buffers and weakens the definition of "old growth" to allow for more cutting, is this the standard we wish to use for sustainable, or green, forestry on the Northwest’s trust lands? For a look at a more comprehensive and rigorous standard, visit the Forest Stewardship Council’s website. When the DNR reaches these global standards there will be true reason to rejoice.