The US Forest Service is finally going to look into the merits of Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certification for a small number of forests, including the Fremont National Forest in southern Oregon. Continued cutting on federal land, even under FSC standards, is not exactly popular with many conservationists. But the reality nowadays is that federal-land logging is likely to increase because of the Healthy Forests Initiative and, especially, slick new administrative procedures that may reduce environmental and endangered species’ reviews. So FSC labelling could be a golden opportunity for conservationists to endorse something positive.

Getting the Forest Service to comply with FSC standards wouldn’t be the big conservation victory that many greens have long sought—it won’t stop cutting in national forests—but it would be an honorable compromise. FSC would guarantee careful reviews and monitoring that are fundamental to any good conservation planning. That is, the label could perhaps offset the increasingly weak review standards performed by federal agencies.