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

Noreastah noreastah at acadia.net
Thu Oct 8 22:57:34 EST 1998


MAINE GREEN PARTY
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.


 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.


 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." 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.
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.


 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. 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. 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. 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. 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.


 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. It is typical of the type of euphimism 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.


 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.


 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. 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.

For more information on the Green Party's position, contact Peter Neils,

207-785-6057.   <peasegrn at mint.net>

contacts:
     Peter Neils 207 785-6057
     Will Neils, co-chair 785-6057
     Nancy Allen, co-chairwoman 207 667-2016







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