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Verifying Forest Sustainability
by Charles A. Levesque and Eric W. Kingsley (Innovative Natural Resource Solutions LLC/Biomass Magazine) Increased talk about the use of woody biomass for energy in the U.S. has many people wondering how best to assure that the fuel and feedstock used by wood energy firms is harvested sustainably. The forest products industry—sawmills and pulp mills, in particular—has been down this road for more than 15 years and many have turned to the major forest certification systems available in the U.S., namely the Sustainable Forestry Initiative, the Forest Stewardship Council and the American Tree Farm System.
…SFI, FSC and ATFS are private, non-governmental programs, all of which are part of one of two major forest certification systems in the world: the Forest Stewardship Council and Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification. In the U.S., the FSC system is part of the Forest Stewardship Council international program, whereas SFI and ATFS are part of PEFC.
… So what do these systems do? In a nutshell, each of the FSC, SFI and ATFS systems has a standard— a series of detailed requirements for how a forest property must be managed—under which a landowner must manage in order to become certified. An outside accredited entity sends an auditor to conduct a third-part audit to determine conformance with the many detailed criteria in the standard.
…Most places in the U.S. simply do not have enough certified acreage to allow a manufacturing plant to make this claim, and the relatively low-value landowners receive from harvesting wood for energy purposes—as opposed to lumber, etc.—means that biomass users have limited opportunity to incentivize new certified acreage. Exceptions might include parts of Maine and Wisconsin, where substantial acreage is already certified to one or more of the systems.
…SFI has an option called fiber sourcing certification, which uses a different standard than the regular land management SFI standard. Fiber sourcing certifies the entire wood procurement system of the facility. READ MORE