The Truth About "Green Wood" - Statement by Maine Green Party to Certification Board

Joseph Zorzin redoak at
Fri Oct 9 06:16:55 EST 1998

Noreastah wrote:
> Press release
> For immediate release:  October 8, 1998
> Re: Conference on forest management certification - Northeast standards
> co-sponsered by Maine Audubon and the Maine Forest Service, Augusta
> Civic Center, October 8, 1998
> The Maine Green Party supports the concept of independent third party
> certification of forest management as a legitimate component of the
> larger
> effort to address the crisis we face in the world's forests. Over the
> last
> eighteen months we have actively engaged the Forest Stewardship Council
> working group convened to establish the standards with which forest
> management throughout the six New England states and New York will be
> evaluated. The working group is a project of the New England
> Environmental
> Policy Center in Burlington, Vt.

I suggest that you tell us more about The New England Environmental
Policy Center. And who are the members of the working group?

>  Regrettably, we must report that there is no objective basis for
> concluding that FSC accredited certification as it is now implemented
> assures the practice  of exemplary forestry. In fact, there is cause for
> concern that certain policies may be providing cover for practices that
> we
> feel are inconsistent with environmentally acceptable management.

Please define "environmentally acceptable management".

>  The FSC publicly states that it's logo assures the consumer "that their
> purchase supports forestry that meets the highest standards for
> environmentally and socially responsible forestry."

Although in theory, I like the idea of "green wood", I seriously doubt
this effort will result in better forestry, if you are depending on the
consumer's choosing of "green wood" to make a difference. Most wood
consumers are looking for a good product at a good price. I bet 98% of
the public hasn't heard of this effort and will never know of it; thanks
to the ineffective means of reaching the public that is common to all
forest related propaganda efforts, from all points of view.

 Yet, the Northeast
> Working Group has created a set of "standards" which are so devoid of
> specificity in virtually every critical element of forest management
> that
> an audit performed under their guidance can only be highly subjective.

This entire concept is flawed because you shouldn't be auditing the
forest; you should be auditing the foresters; to see if they have the
right attitude. Every forest harvest operation and all forest management
efforts are very different. A group dropping by for a quick audit can't
possibly come up with a valid conclusion. And who's going to pay for
these audits? The entire idea is flawed.

> It
> will inevitably reflect the predisposition of the auditing team and
> their
> interpretation of the "standards" and, by extension, cannot represent a
> uniform evaluation process.

No uniform evaluation process is possible; neither in theory nor in

>  We have concluded that while an FSC accredited audit can result in an
> exemplary forest management achieving certification, the Northeast
> regional
> standards are not sufficient to assure this result.

Please tell us more about those standards. Are they available on the
net? I'm sure they are, but your message would be more informative if
you gave us the net addresses of the various documents you mention.

 There is, therefore,
> no
> logical basis for assuming that an FSC accredited audit and subsequent
> certification represents anything more at this time than a sophisticated
> public relations effort.
>  We find this unacceptable for the following reasons. First, it
> represents
> a collective effort by industrial, bussiness, environmental, and
> academic
> interests on the working group to present the process for something
> other
> than what is at this time.

Well, what is it? Or should I say, what do you think it should be?

 Many of the academics and environmentalists
> involved in the process have stated, "it is a start", or "we'll have to
> watch and see what kind of operations are certified"( under the
> standards
> as written). Industrial representatives have aggressively resisted
> "overly
> prescriptive" standards, yet in our view a process which is as highly
> subjective as the proposed standards will permit does not represent the
> "uniform, international benchmark" that FSC certification is purported
> to
> guarantee.

I would like to know exactly what you are suggesting? How would you go
about doing an objective evaluation? How is this to be done? Maybe this
has all been worked out, but I haven't been following it.

 Inferring that the "strict standards" promoted by the FSC in
> their literature would in practice be "overly prescriptive" is merely
> the
> strategy which the forestry establishment has adopted to forestall
> desperately needed outside oversight.

Desperately needed? The problem with forestry is that there is already
too much bureaucracy. If you are going to inject another level of
bureaucracy; you will make no progress. What we need is "high
consciousness" foresters who have been to the typical forestry school
boot camp, plus have shown environmental awareness.

One good way to do this is to have a list of GREAT forestry projects all
over the world as examples. Try to raise consciousness. Don't go out and
examine in detail harvest projects. You won't like ANY of them. Certify
the forester, not the properties.

 In this case, the FSC not only
> fails
> to meet it's primary mission of assuring consumer confidence based on
> the
> quality of forest management certified under it's umbrella, but it's
> logo
> could become a device used to confuse or deceive consumers.
>  Secondly, it fails to protect the interests of the many organizations
> and
> people of conscience who have committed significant energy and capital
> to
> achieving certification. Flexible guidelines allow less than scrupulous
> operations to compete on the same footing as those who are taking the
> extra
> time and effort to manage their forests and businesses for the future,
> not
> the present.

Do you suggest inflexible guidelines?

>  Thirdly, it will not provide the kind of management necessary to
> restore
> our great indigenous forests to their previous, highly productive
> natural
> state. The FSC originally contemplated accepting plantations only if
> they
> were managed to return the forest to it's natural vegetative cover. The
> FSC's current acceptance of plantations "if managed to reduce pressure
> on
> natural forests" represents a retrenchment in response to industrial
> pressure.

So you think there is no place for plantations in the Northeast? I
certainly wouldn't want the NE to look like the SE with it's vast boring
pine plantations, but I doubt that will ever happen here. Plantations
will always be a small part of the landscape. And because they are
uncommon, they add something to the diversity of the forest types we
have here- and aren't you into diversity?

 It is typical of the type of euphemism which the industry has
> mastered over the years. This rationalization, often repeated among
> those
> in the certification community, makes several assumptions with which we
> take issue specifically in our full report. In summary, however,
> education,
> conservation, higher stocking levels, and the development of alternative
> fiber sources for papermaking represent credible strategies to reduce
> pressure on our natural forests. Converting more acreage to plantations
> will clearly increase pressure on natural forests, and the ecosystems
> they
> support.

It might also less the pressure, because of the greater efficiency of
the plantations. Just as greater farm efficiency resulted in millions of
farms being abandoned, efficient forest plantations will do the same

>  Fourth, the confusion about how to define success within the
> certification
> movement remains a concern. The argument that having major players seek
> and
> be awarded certification is necessary to lend credibility to the
> movement
> speaks to the danger that certification could become a public relations
> ploy. Success in this model seems to be contingent on the perception
> created by widespread participation. Given the stated goals of the FSC,
> the
> success of the certification movement must rest on whether it
> successfully
> defines ecologically sound forestry, and clearly distinguishes those who
> are committed to it from those who are not.

There are also many other methods to get better forestry. Such as, in
Massachusetts, most logging is still high grading with no effort at
silviculture. Such logging is fully approved by the state forestry
agency. And our brainless state legislature recently passed an idiotic
forester licensing program; which does nothing but define what a
forester is. Whoever wrote this law should be sent to a Siberian salt

If the law had said that all logging in the state must be under the
control of a licensed forester, the quality of logging in the state
would have gone by several quantum levels; and without all of this silly
certification stuff; just using plain old fashioned silviculture alone,
rather than "12 inches and up with the bark on it". A simple solution to
a basic problem avoiding all this endless debate amongst a large number
of people who don't really have much of a clue about what forestry is
all about.

>  The Maine Green Party is willing to continue to work with the Northeast
> working group to produce a meaningful contribution to the crisis in our
> forests. We cannot however, in good faith, remain silent about the state
> of
> the certification movement at this time.

As I've pointed out above, the certification movement is OK, but it is
NOT going to be the solution to the problem.

 Upon a thorough review, if the
> revised draft document fails to demonstrate a significantly increased
> commitment to objective standards over the draft  document, we will
> petition the FSC to send the Northeast standards back to the working
> group
> for further work, and are preparing a full report on our efforts to
> solidify the standards developed by the working group.

Are you a lawyer? You sound like one. <G>

Evolving to a higher level of sophistication on land already under some
forester guidance is a fine long term goal. But, THE BIGGER ISSUE for
most of New England is that MOST forest harvesting HAS NO FORESTER
INVOLVED AT ALL; or in some cases, there is a forester, but no effort at
silviculture. Applying silviculture to all harvesting could be a much
quicker way to get better forestry, without all the endless fuss and
arguing among forestry intellectuals, environmentalists, and others who
have little understanding of the day to day considerations of working
"mud" foresters. 

> For more information on the Green Party's position, contact Peter Neils,
> 207-785-6057.   <peasegrn at>
> contacts:
>      Peter Neils 207 785-6057
>      Will Neils, co-chair 785-6057
>      Nancy Allen, co-chairwoman 207 667-2016


Joseph Zorzin, Yankee Forestmeister,
author of the revolutionary "Z-letter"
Locked out of the infamous GULAG of the state of
MA email system and proud of it!
"The first forestry web page in  Massachusetts."
"In wildness is the preservation of the world."
Henry David Thoreau
forestry newsgroups are found at bionet.agroforestry
and alt.forestry, the coolest places on the planet for
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Stay tuned for the "Massachusetts Association of
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