Forest managers from 30 American forestry operations gathered recently in North Charleston, South Carolina, for an intensive workshop on Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certification. In the world of forest products, which includes everything from paper towels to plywood, FSC certification is widely considered to be the gold standard for responsible forest management, requiring companies to protect ecosystems while harvesting wood. The workshop covered sustainable practices related to high conservation value forests, family-owned forestland, endangered species protection, and more.
"I came to the meeting because I thought this was a real opportunity to sit down and discuss the North American standards with folks from the Rainforest Alliance and other practitioners throughout the US," said Jon Fosgitt of Compass Land Consultants, a company that manages about 300,000 acres of certified forestlands in Michigan and Wisconsin. "It proved to be very useful to meet outside of the auditing procedure, as we could ask questions and have discussions that you might not normally have through the certification process."
The Rainforest Alliance is one of the largest forest certification bodies in the United States, helping to protect more than 3.3 million acres of forests across the country—from the sequoia groves of California to the evergreen forests of Maine—by certifying forestry companies to the rigorous environmental and social standards of the FSC. Representatives from Domtar, Evergreen Packaging, and the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) were among the many natural resource managers in attendance to deepen their mastery of sustainable forestry practices. Some of the companies at the workshop had been working with the Rainforest Alliance for more than ten years to manage their forests sustainably.
The Rainforest Alliance’s training workshops are designed to strengthen Earth-friendly methods across the forestry sector and help companies prepare for their certification audits. In speaking at the workshop about his experience with the Rainforest Alliance, David Whitehouse of International Paper remarked, "They were efficient, they were professional, and they helped us to achieve our certification goals very successfully and relatively quickly."