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Rainforest Alliance Certifies Massachusetts Private Forests to FSC Standards

March 30, 2010

The Rainforest Alliance's SmartWood program announced today its certification of a Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation (MA DCR) group to Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) standards. The group, made up of private forest landowners throughout the state of Massachusetts, is only the second program run by a state forestry group to receive FSC certification.

"We see state forestry certifications as a growing trend," said David Bubser, SmartWood regional manager for the Rainforest Alliance. "States are opening up to the idea that independent, third-party verification can demonstrate that they are implementing responsible forestry practices."

MA DCR's certification follows the December 2008 certification of the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources Managed Forest Law group.  MA DCR is the first state-run group certification, however, to use an "opt-in" system, which means that land owners must request to be involved in the certification.  An "early adopter" group of seven landowners who own 700 acres were audited in June 2009. Since the audit, an additional 92 landowners who collectively own another 19,300 acres have declared their intentions to join the group. MA DCR anticipates the enrollment will continue to expand as members learn of the benefits of FSC certification.  This certification is separate from the FSC certificate awarded to Massachusetts State Lands from 2004 to 2009.

FSC Certifiers

"The forestry programs offered by MA DCR Bureau of Forestry assist private landowners in maintaining their forests as forests," said Doug Hutcheson, green certification private lands service forester. "The emphasis of FSC certification on sustainable forest management is consistent with that effort."

Roger Plourde, a landowner who opted into the group, owns more than 285 acres of oak and white pine forest in Spencer, MA. "I see the DCR-sponsored FSC certification program as a great opportunity for woodland owners in Massachusetts," said Plourde. "Practicing sustainable forestry often requires postponing the harvesting of valuable crop trees until regeneration goals are achieved. I am hopeful that FSC certification will increase the profitability of the small diameter wood products produced in early thinnings.  Without DCR's funding of third-party audits, green certification would be too costly for small acreages."

Forests certified by the Rainforest Alliance's SmartWood program must meet FSC standards of responsible forestry. FSC-certified forests provide habitat for wildlife, sequester carbon, protect soil and waterways and improve worker safety and training. Continuing growth of FSC-certified forests helps to slow global deforestation rates, which is an effective and cost-efficient way to reduce atmospheric carbon.

Due to the growing demand for sustainable wood for furniture, pulp, paper and green buildings, FSC-certified forest owners often experience better market access and value for their timber. As part of the certification, the Rainforest Alliance will conduct annual audits to evaluate continued conformance.

With MA DCR's certification, SmartWood has now certified 14,218,680 acres (5,754,096 ha) in the United States and 153,205,337 acres (62 million ha) in 67 countries worldwide.

The Rainforest Alliance, a nonprofit international conservation organization, was instrumental in the founding of the FSC in 1993.  It is the world's leading certifier of forestlands to FSC standards, which is considered the gold standard of well-managed forest certification.  In addition to certification, the Rainforest Alliance verifies legality of timber, analyzes supply chains for risk, designs and implements procurement policies and helps communicate partner successes.

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