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In the driver’s seat

Posted by Paul Vanderford on February 12, 2015

Sustainable Northwest is now a member of the Forest Stewardship Council’s U.S. board of directors

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A Portland home made entirely out of 100% FSC-certified wood

We’re proud to share the exciting news that Sustainable Northwest has been appointed to the Forest Stewardship Council’s U.S. board of directors. The Council board is divided into three chambers: economic, environmental, and social. Specifically, we’ll be in the social chamber to balance community and social needs with business and environmental interests. As a representative of rural communities and certified small businesses within our region, we are honored by this appointment, and aim to make responsibly-sourced wood an integral part of our future forest economy.

Several goals will guide our role as a board member of the Forest Stewardship Council. First, we seek to increase overall use of responsibly-sourced wood. We will push for increased marketing and advertising of the FSC brand.  We believe that greater investment in marketing will inform and inspire consumers about the importance of sustainably-sourced materials and create higher consumer demand for certified wood. The viability of forestry as an industry, the success of forest conservation, the health of our communities, and survival of the FSC itself depends on it.

Second, we will advocate for a balance between certification access and the credibility of the FSC standard. The standard is – and should be – high enough to foster strong stewardship of our natural resources, but it must also be attainable for smaller outfits who want to participate.  Revisions to the FSC standard are underway. We will ensure the needs of small businesses and rural communities are heard.

We continue to work on the ground. Historically, many small businesses have been unable to achieve certification due to high costs, arduous setup, and frustrating audit systems.  Certification can cost $4,000-$5000 per year, and take several days or weeks of a business’s time to set up complex monitoring systems and prepare for audits.  We simplify both costs and processes to make certification more accessible.

Our FSC group certification program has grown 120% in the past two years as we ramp up our program to meet growing demand in WA, OR, CA, ID, and MT. We currently help over $7,000,000 worth of certified wood flow from well-managed forests to passionate customers across the Western U.S. Find FSC-certified small businesses near you on our member map.

We’re thrilled by this opportunity to represent our rural constituents and small businesses, and serve as a leader in forest conservation!

Paul Vanderford is Green Markets Program Manager at Sustainable Northwest.