The SFI recently announced that 5 South Carolina forests, 103,000 acres owned by the South Carolina Forestry Commission and Clemson University, were certified to both SFI and ATFS standards. These forests are the first to be certified under the SFI’s Forest Partners Program, an initiative started by SFI and four publishers—Time, National Geographic, MacMillan and Pearson—in 2012. The program’s goal is to certify 5 million acres by 2014 and an additional 5 million acres by 2017. They hope to meet this goal by making “certification more efficient and accessible by providing resources for activities such as shared consulting expertise, group certification, audit coordination and other innovations.”
Another public/private partnership—this one between the ATFS and some of North Carolina’s most successful forest products companies including Weyerhaueser, Domtar, Kapstone, Louisiana Pacific, Rock Tenn, Resolute, Enviva and Culp Lumber—is working to increase the number of small privately-owned forests with certification. These companies have contributed to an outreach campaign that will be conducted by the North Carolina Forest Service (NCFS). The NCFS will contact those who participate in the state’s Forest Stewardship Program and inform them about the opportunities and benefits associated with ATFS certification. “Through ATFS certification, North Carolina’s family forest landowners are better recognized for their stewardship, both on-the-ground and in the marketplace. Tree Farm certification opens up market opportunities and resources to woodland owners, while the forest products industry gains more access to sustainably grown, certified fiber. Additional benefits to ATFS certification include invitations to landowner workshops, field tours and webinars.”
The SFI recently awarded a grant to the U.S. Endowment for Forestry and Communities to work with forest landowners and water utilities to develop innovative ways to protect watersheds on privately owned forests. The goal of this work is to develop a financial instrument that will compensate forest landowners for maintaining the health of watersheds they manage. In 2011, for instance, Raleigh, North Carolina began charging a watershed protection fee of 1 cent per 100 gallons of water used, which was included in a monthly water bill. The fee (an average of 40 cents/month per customer) generates $1.8 million and is used to protect and manage drinking water quality. “We’re excited to support new tools that encourage forest owners and water utilities to work together to conserve watersheds,” said Kathy Abusow, President and CEO of SFI, “This project will provide us with a greater understanding of what is needed to advance watershed protection and management.”
Forest Certification is a good “thing”, as are payments for ecosystem services.
Here’s the BUT - When will the landowners see the benefit in forest certification in the form of increased stumpage prices vs. stands that have not been certified?