Tag Archives: Forest

Certified Wood Sets Stage for President Obama’s Inauguration

Certified Wood Sets Stage for President Obama’s Inauguration.

The eyes of the world turn to Washington on Monday, as President Barack Obama takes the oath of office for his second term as President of the United States. And as he stands on this figurative world stage, he’ll also be standing on a sustainable stage, literally: the inaugural platform was constructed with lumber certified to the Sustainable Forestry Initiative® (SFI®) Standard.

Forest certification standards, like SFI’s, are an essential tool to promote sustainable forest management practices that protect and grow our forests for the future. SFI is proud to play a part on this historic day, as the single largest forest certification standard in the world. Across North America, more than 200 million acres/80 million hectares are certified to the SFIforest management standard.

Sierra Pacific Industries, a family-owned company and the second-largest producer of lumber in the United States, provided the lumber for the inaugural platform from facilities in Washington state that are third-party certified to SFI’s rigorous standard. The SFI standard includes measures to protect water quality, biodiversity, wildlife habitat, species at risk, and Forests with Exceptional Conservation Value. And one-third of SFI-certified land in the U.S. is on publicly-owned land.

As adoption and visibility of forest certification continues to expand, we expect more opportunities to celebrate in the years to come.

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Read of the Day: Kitzhaber report to restore east-side forests

Kitzhaber report to restore east-side forests

December 11, 2012

New report: Restoring Oregon’s east-side forests is a win-win

By Oregon Forest Resource Institute,

Accelerating the work to restore ailing federal forests will help both the environment and the economy in eastern Oregon. This is the conclusion of a new report prepared at the request of Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber and legislative leaders: “National Forest Health Restoration: An Economic Assessment of Forest Restoration on Oregon’s Eastside National Forests.”

The Oregon Forest Resources Institute and The Nature Conservancy  teamed up to produce a four-page summary of the report.

The report looks at doubling the number of acres of east-side national forestland that undergo restoration – such as selective harvest, thinning and underbrush removal – from 129,000 annually to 250,000. Doing so, the report states, could create an additional 2,300 jobs in eastern and south central Oregon. The study says every $1 million invested in restoration generates $5.7 million in economic returns.

The work brings timber to struggling mills, provides jobs, and restores fire resiliency to the forest, the report states. Because of fire suppression, historic practices and passive management, some dry-side federal forests are choked with as many as 1,000 trees per acre, where historically about 75-100 trees per acre were typical. Some 80 percent of the 11.4 million acres of east-side forests under U.S. Forest Service management are at moderate to high risk of devastating crown fires.

The report highlights the importance of local collaboratives – in which government, industry and conservation interests work together to plan and implement restoration jobs.

The report was assembled with funding and guidance from conservation groups, government agencies, academic institutions and business trade associations. The full 94-page report  also is available for download.

For county-by-county information on Oregon’s forests sector and how it fits into the state’s overall economy please see the executive summary of OFRI’s recent economic study, “Poised to Rebound,”  or visit OFRI’s dedicated website, TheForestReport.org.

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B.C. Government Responds To Committee’s Timber Supply Report

The B.C. government’s action plan to increase the mid-term timber supply contains a commitment to forest renewal through nine sustained and 11 new actions, said Forests, Lands, and Natural Resource Operations Minister Steve Thomson.

“We’ve long recognized the importance of having a long-term vision for forest management to ensure that future generations will be able to enjoy the economic benefits they provide,” he said. “This plan supports our long-term vision.”

Government’s response to the Special Committee on Timber Supply’s report signals the start of the final phase in its decade-long response to the mountain pine beetle infestation. Since 2001 the B.C. government has invested over $884 million on forest management and economic development in the mountain pine beetle-impacted areas, to assist forestry-dependent communities diversify their economic base.

In 2011, over 53,000 people were employed directly in the forest industry. In 2011, forest product exports totalled $9.95 million. 

“Beyond the Beetle: A Mid-Term Timber Supply Action Plan” puts a sharper focus on increasing the mid-term timber supply and better utilizing timber for bioenergyand other purposes, to complement the traditional focus on sawlogs.

Highlights of the action plan include a 10-year forest inventory strategy, innovativesilviculture practices to grow more trees faster, and landscape fire management planning to reduce risks to the mid-term timber supply.

Over 198 million seedlings were planted in 2011, and it is estimated that over 200 million seedlings will be planted in 2012.

Other key elements of the plan includes proposed new legislation to convert volume-based forestlicences to area-based forest licences, and the creation of a new supplemental forest licence to increase bioenergy opportunities.

The action plan also supports the special committee’s recommendation to ensure any harvesting in areas set aside for old growth, wildlife and scenic values only be considered if it is scientifically and ecologically sound to do so, and has the support of local communities and First Nations.

Some communities have asked the provincial government to consider harvesting within sensitive areas of the timber harvesting land base.

The action plan acknowledges government, communities, First Nations, and forest industry as partners to ensure success, taking into account current fiscal realities. Further funding for reforestation, inventory and fuel management will be reviewed as the fiscal situation improves and the recommendations are fully implemented.

In 2012-13, $30 million is being invested in the hardest-hit mountain pine beetle areas through the ministry’s land based investment strategy.

A history of government’s battle against the mountain pine beetle can be found athttp://ow.ly/eeCn2. Learn more about the B.C. government’s action plan at http://www.gov.bc.ca/http://www.gov.bc.ca/pinebeetle.

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Sen. Udall pushes for lowering cost of timber for sawmills

Sen. Udall pushes for lowering cost of timber for sawmills

POSTED:   10/13/2012
UPDATED:   10/13/2012

By Bruce Finley
The Denver Post

Colorado finally revived a timber mill on the Western Slope.

But after one month at the mill, Montrose Wood Products chief Jim Neiman has found he can afford to run it only three days a week.

“We have not been able to get enough logs,” Neiman said.

Meanwhile, 4.2 million acres of dead and dying beetle-killed pines sit in Colorado and Wyoming forests — some in areas prone to catastrophic wildfires.

U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack weighed into this dilemma Friday, calling for greater flexibility in Forest Service contracting to guarantee a consistent timber supply.

Viable sawmills are considered important links in the increasingly urgent task of restoring the health of overgrown forests. They can serve emerging industries that need wood fibers to create super-strong materials, Vilsack said, citing advances in automobile, electronics and armor technology.

But to stay in business, the sawmills require a steady supply of timber — “not for a year but for 10 to 20 years,” Vilsack said.

Democratic Sen. Mark Udall, who helped pull the Montrose mill out of receivership, has redoubled his own push to make appropriate logging feasible.

Given the numbers of beetle-killed lodgepole pines, “we ought to be able to do that,” Udall said. “One of the ideas I am exploring: Do you value the trees at zero dollars?”

Congressional action would be required to direct selective cutting of trees on public lands at no charge. Forest Service managers currently must charge loggers market value for trees — adding to costs of labor and diesel.

“We want to protect the taxpayer asset — the forest — but there are other assets that are at risk if we have catastrophic fires,” Udall said. “And one of the ways in which you might be able to protect taxpayer assets — like clean air and clean water and wildlife — would be to value the trees at a very low rate so that the cost model then works for the loggers, mills and industries we want to generate.”

Restoring forest health, after a summer of devastating wildfires, was the focus of a Forest Health Summit that Gov. John Hickenlooper convened in Denver on Friday.

The wildfires and ravaging of forests by mountain pine beetles — combined with drought and anticipated climate change — are raising concerns about water supplies that originate in forests. Participants representing conservation groups, the timber industry and public agencies hashed out possibilities for ensuring better spacing between trees in overly dense forests and a diversity of species that boosts resilience.

Forest Service officials conduct lengthy environmental reviews before offering timber on public lands. Rocky Mountain region director of resources R.E. Vann pointed out that the amount charged for tree cutting — around $5 per hundred cubic feet of timber — already is relatively low.

“I don’t think price is the main factor” impeding removal of beetle-killed trees, he said. “What is expensive is getting the product from the forest stump to the mill.”

While Neiman runs the revived mill, pines cut as a result of previous contracts commonly sit in piles — because moving the trees to mills isn’t profitable. Federal land managers say that, depending on weather conditions this fall, as many piles as possible will be burned.

Read more:Sen. Udall pushes for lowering cost of timber for sawmills – The Denver 
Read The Denver Post’s Terms of Use of its content: http://www.denverpost.com/termsofuse

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Bumper sticker campaign targets wildfire policy

Bumper sticker campaign targets wildfire policy

October 10, 2012

By Idaho Forest Products Commission

Had enough of the fire and smoke this summer? Part of the reason for wildfires burning in Idaho this year is because the state’s national forests are overstocked with dead and dying trees, and timber harvest levels are nearly at an all-time low.

In hopes of supporting the U.S. Forest Service’s stated interest in accelerating the pace of thinning our national forests to reduce the threat of wildfires and help restore the forest health, the Idaho Forest Products Commission produced a bumper sticker that says “Thin the Threat!”

The bumper stickers are available at no charge from the Idaho Forest Products Commission. Contact the IFPC via email ifpc@idahoforests.org or phone 208-334-3292, if you would like to order one.

“Thin the Threat!” bumper stickers also are available through Idaho Department of Lands offices throughout the state.

Wildfires have been burning at high intensity in Idaho for several decades now.  A large percentage of Idaho’s forests are at dangerously high risk of severe fire because they are overcrowded with stressed, dying and dead trees, according to forestry experts.

These “at-risk” forests burn more intensely and are more likely to destroy existing wildlife habitat, threaten homes and watersheds, damage soils, and emit large amounts of carbon dioxide and other pollutants, according to forest industry experts. Recent hot and dry weather trends — attributed by scientists to climate change — are exacerbating the problem.

Recent timber harvest levels in Idaho from national forest lands are now at 1946 levels, while state and private land harvest levels have remained about the same.

chart-idaho-forest

In a recent visit to Boise, U.S. Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell talked about the need for his agency to accelerate the pace of thinning projects to improve forest health. One statistic that he shared: Out of the 20.4 million acres of land managed by the Forest Service in Idaho, 15 million acres or 75 percent are overgrown and susceptible to wildfire. Tidwell said he would like to either thin those forests or set prescribed burns to reduce the threat.

For national forest lands that are not designated as “wilderness,” taking actions to “Thin the Threat!”  are a step in the right direction to protect human safety and ecosystem integrity.

For more information, go to the IFPC web site, http://www.idahoforests.org/and click on “fires.”

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Kitzhaber issues order to support Oregon wood products

Kitzhaber issues order to support Oregon wood products

By Christina Williams

Sustainable Business Oregon editor

Gov. John Kitzhaber announced Monday an executive order designed to goose Oregon’s forest products industry.

Gov. John Kitzhaber on Monday issued an executive order designed to promote Oregon’s wood products and sustainable forest management.

Kitzhaber announced the order while speaking at the Oregon Forest Industries Council‘s annual meeting Monday.

“Oregon is a leader in products that come from sustainably managed forests,” Kitzhaber said in a prepared statement. “Increasing the market for these products helps conserve forests and strengthen surrounding communities, while supporting our broader work to manage forest lands for long-term economic and environmental health.”

The order asks state agencies to play a role in developing and promoting innovative uses of Oregon wood and asks the Oregon Department of Forestry to develop a way to rate wood products on their sustainability credentials.

Kitzhaber also announced his plan to convene a group of county, industry and environmental leaders to come up with a plan to help improve the financial stability of counties affected by the end of federal timber payments. He’s also asking the group come up with a plan that addresses forest management in those counties that will be presented to the U.S. Congress.

Specifically, the executive order asks:

  • The Oregon Department of Administrative Services to identify at least two construction projects to feature a heavy use of Oregon wood to highlight the non-residential uses of wood in construction.
  • The Oregon Department of Forestry to work with other organizations to check out green building certification systems to make sure they adequately reflect the social, environmental and other benefits of Oregon wood.
  • The Oregon Department of Administrative Services to investigate the increased use of Oregon wood in the renovation of state government buildings.
  • The Oregon Business Development Department to work with other organizations to find ways to accelerate the commercialization of new wood products.
  • The Oregon Business Development Department to work with other agencies and come up with a plan to present to the 2013 Oregon Legislature to increase the market for O

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True Costs of Green Labeling

True Costs of Green Labeling

October 7, 2012

By Stephen Pociask
American Consumer Institute 

The familiar saying “you get what you pay for” applies in many circumstances. Under certain conditions, however, this statement can be very misleading. For example, when customers pay a higher price for wood and paper products with “green” labels, they may not actually be getting something that is better for the environment. A combination of misguided policies and organized pressure from environmental activists to elevate one forest certification program over all others is creating confusion in the marketplace. As a result, consumers are paying more for wood and paper products that may fall short of their “green” expectations.

The source of the confusion deals with an ongoing heated debate over forest certification programs, dubbed the wood wars. Forest certification takes place when landowners meet the established benchmarks of one of several organizations, thereby earning the right to put that organization’s eco-label on its products. There are more than 50 certification programs in the world, with the US most reliant on standards set by the American Tree Farm System (ATFS), Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) and the Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI).

With North America accounting for 40 percent of the world’s certified lands, the US is a leader in forest certification — but there is some bad news. The US’ edge in responsible forestry management is being forced to the sidelines by government actions and environmental activists that are working to establish one international standard, FSC, as the only legitimate standard in the US. Because over 90 percent of the world’s FSC-certified land is found in foreign countries, if the US adopts a monopoly standard, three-quarters of our nation’s certified lands could be excluded from the market. That exclusion could mean a significant reduction in domestic production, the loss of American jobs, and sending US dollars overseas.

The proper role for government and how it deals with forest certification lags behind the realities of the marketplace. A study released this week by The American Consumer Institute quantifies some of the costs of these government procurement policies have on businesses, consumers and the environment.
The study found several troubling consequences of this de facto monopoly that undermine the very sustainability goals of these certification programs. The study noted that the FSC program did not have consistent standards at all; instead they used benchmarks and requirements that differ from country to country. No surprise, under the FSC program, the US landowners face the strictest FSC standards in the world, while in more environmentally risky countries, such as Russia, landowners are allowed to game the system.

What does this mean for consumers? These added certification costs are passed on to US producers and ultimately American consumers of timber products in the price range of 15 percent to 20 percent. The study estimates that if an FSC standard becomes a controlling requirement for American forests, consumer welfare would drop by an estimated $10 billion for wood products and $24 billion for paper products each year.

Moreover, an FSC-only approach may incentivize the procurement of timber in environmentally risky locations, given the organization’s disparity in standards across the world. Furthermore, importing additional foreign wood increases both environmental and transportation costs. It may also encourage consumers to substitute away from wood products to less environmentally-friendly materials, including metals, plastics and concrete. This does not mean FSC has no environmental benefit, or that it is not a sound choice for some landowners and businesses, but it does mean that consumers are being misled by a system that promotes so-called environmentally superior products without the basis to support these claims or additional costs.

The imposition of a single standard through procurement requirements – such as the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED rating system used many government agencies – creates significant costs without ensuring corresponding environmental benefits. It is irresponsible to allow the government to promote a monopoly on forest certification that will drive losses of tens of billions of dollars in domestic wood and paper markets, and the reduction of employment and tax revenues in local communities that follow – all in the name of sustainability that the policies do not ensure.

In order for consumers to be confident that “you get what you pay for” holds true for wood and paper products in the “green” market, an approach that levels the playing field for forest certification programs is needed. Such an approach is not only pro-consumer, but it is also pro-American jobs and pro-environment.

Stephen Pociask is an economist at the American Consumer Institute

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