SUSTAINABLE FORESTRY

April 23, 2001 11:00 pm
FOCUS ON WOOD PRODUCTS: Rick Fletcher will discuss certification of wood and paper products during the Blue Mountain Forum. (The Observer/PHIL BULLOCK).
FOCUS ON WOOD PRODUCTS: Rick Fletcher will discuss certification of wood and paper products during the Blue Mountain Forum. (The Observer/PHIL BULLOCK).

By Alice Perry Linker

Observer Staff Writer

If a tree falls in the forest, can anyone hear?

If that tree has been cut down under certifiable, sustainable conditions, nearly everyone will hear about it.

A stamp put on lumber coming from the sawmill means the tree that produced the lumber grew in a forest managed in a sustainable manner. Ecological, economic and social aspects are important to sustainability. More and more growers, including Boise Cascade Corp., are becoming certified through a process that traces the planting, development and management of commercially grown forests.

Steve McClelland of Boise Cascades La Grande office said the giant company has been having its forests and mills audited by an independent company to ensure that standards are met. The standards are set by the American Forest & Paper Associations Sustainable Forestry Initiative program. The region that includes Union County is set for an audit this summer.

Boise has created its own management program that is modeled after the SFI program, McClelland said.

Certification has not meant many changes in the companys management but does require more documentation, he said.

The Sustainable Forestry Initiative is only one of several certification programs available to growers, said Rick Fletcher, associate director of the sustainable forestry partnership at Oregon State Universitys College of Forestry.

Fletcher will discuss certification of wood and paper products during the Blue Mountain Forum at 7:30 p.m. May 3 in Union Countys Chaplin Building, 1001 Fourth St. The talk, which is free and open to the public, will be followed by a question-and-answer session.

This is an opportunity for people to become more familiar with certification, said Paul Oester of the OSU Extension Office. This could have an impact on anybody who uses wood.

Wallowa Resources, a non-profit organization in Wallowa County, has become active in promoting certification of forests and has received a grant to help forest owners with the process, Oester said.

During an interview earlier this month, Fletcher said that certification is worldwide, with Europe ahead of the United States. Nearly all large home improvement retailers, such as Home Depot, require certification.

Fletcher said that protocols are being set for sustainability and certification.

More than ecology must be considered, he said. Human communities if you let human communities fail, ecology will fail.

Fletcher said Oregon is ahead of many other areas in the sustainability movement.

Compared to other places on the globe, in Oregon were doing a good job, he said.

Oregons Forest Practices Act is largely responsible for the high quality of the states private forests, he said.

Higher level management, such as that required by the forest practices act, is not getting credit in the marketplace, Fletcher said.

Certified wood and lumber do not necessarily command a premium price, and American consumers have not measurably changed their buying habits, Fletcher said. Contractors, however, are asking for certified wood, and its popularity is expected to grow.