Decoding the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) and Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI) certificates

When selecting or promoting products, it is vital that you opt for sustainably produced materials in order to protect old-growth forests and other habitats. There are a number of certifications pertaining to the building industry which will help dealers and consumers to select products that have been sustainably harvested. Sustainability is everyone’s responsibility and choosing environmentally-friendly products will promote proper forest management, protect local eco-systems and wildlife, stimulate local economies and provide resources and incomes for the people who live and work in forest areas. It’s imperative to educate consumers on what the certifications represent so that they can make responsible choices.

The Forestry Stewardship Council

The Forestry Stewardship Council (FSC) promotes the responsible management of forests worldwide. FSC-certified lumber comes from forests which follow the most sustainable social and environmental practices; managing the bio-resources while respecting the rights of indigenous populations and promoting healthy markets.

From FSC: “By working to promote environmentally and socially beneficial forest management, FSC helps both local communities and society at large to enjoy long-term benefits of managing forests in a responsible way. As the world’s most respected forest certification scheme, FSC is a global system with certificates issued in all forest types around the world.”

The FSC works with local forestry standards to tailor criteria for qualification for each country and region. In order to qualify for certification, the forest manager must apply to FSC who will assess the operation to ensure that it meets standards set for the region. A management certificate is issued and is valid for five years and subject to annual inspection to ensure that the operation meets FSC standards.

FSC verifies the authenticity of certified products all along the chain from production to distribution.

Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI) certificates

If you are looking for products that have been created from sustainably sourced fiber, then the choose products carrying the Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI) certification. From SFI: “SFI Inc. is an independent, non-profit organization responsible for maintaining, overseeing and improving a sustainable forestry certification program that is internationally recognized and is the largest single forest standard in the world.”

Kathy Abusow, president and CEO of SFI explains: “There’s a bigger picture at SFI. We’re a standard, but we’re more than a standard; our conservation partnerships are outstanding and they demonstrate our commitment to important conservation issues. What we were looking for was a standard that was developed through a broad spectrum of stakeholders and that’s what we’ve got on our board. We have a three-chamber independent board that represents social, economic and environmental interests. When people have a standard, they want to know that it’s been met and that’s why we have third-party audits.”

The SFI 2010-2014 Standard is based on principles and measures that promote sustainable forest management and consider all forest values. It includes unique fiber sourcing requirements to promote responsible forest management on all forest lands in North America.

SFI certification also extends to the market. When they see the SFI label on a product, consumers can be confident they are buying wood or paper from certified forests or certified sourcing – whether it is reams of paper, packaging, or lumber products.

The SFI program has three certified chain-of-custody labels. In order for a product to carry the SFI label, it must be certified by an independent third-party body, so consumers can be assured that the products they buy have been sustainably sourced. The certifications track the fiber to ensure that it comes from sustainably harvested or recycled sources as defined by SFI guidelines.

The Average Percentage Method: Here companies can utilize the SFI label if their products contain at least 10% certified content. The label must stipulate how much of the product has been sourced from sustainable forests or from recycled materials.
The Volume Credit Method: Here SFI content is calculated on the volume of certified forest materials utilized in the manufacturing process. This means that if a company utilizes 50% SFI-certified materials in its manufacturing process annually, it can use the SFI label on 50% of the products manufactured during the course of that year.
The Mobius Loop: Any products containing SFI-certified materials can opt to include mobius loop logos. Here the logo clearly states the percentage of post-consumer recycled content, the percentage of certified sourcing as well as the percentage of certified forest content.

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