by Jonathan Lok
A recent issue of BarTalk spoke about the virtues of the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certification. The Association of B.C. Forest Professionals wanted members of the Bar Association to know that there are three major sustainable forest certification schemes in Canada and each has labeling programs used in verifying the origin of the raw materials included in forest based products, such as paper.
In recent years, there has been a focus on the environment and socially responsible management of the earth’s resources. Many people are looking more closely at the origins of goods that they’ve blindly consumed in the past. Wood products, notably paper, fall into this category. In the past, it may have been difficult for consumers to determine if the paper they were using was produced from fibre sourced from lands that were managed in an environmentally and socially responsible manner. Forest management certification standards and their associated chains of custody can help.
In Canada, 84 per cent of working forests are certified through one of three forest management certification standards. These standards equally seek to ensure responsible and sustainable forest management and include the Canadian Standards Association (CSA), Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) and Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI). Of the nearly 146 million hectares of certified forests in Canada as of December 2008, 57 per cent are certified to the CSA standard while 19 per cent and 27 per cent are certified by FSC and SFI standards, respectively.
Forest management certification is a voluntary way for organizations and landowners to illustrate their commitment to responsible forest management. Although the three standards have similarities and differences, all programs are endorsed by various governmental, environment and industry groups. CSA and SFI are endorsed by the Programme for Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC), the largest forest certification program in the world. FSC has support from various environmental non-governmental organizations such as the World Wildlife Fund and Greenpeace.
All three standards were developed by not-for-profit organizations and require applicants to be audited by third-party registrars to confirm adherence to the applicable standard. These audits confirm the applicants’ commitment to the protection and maintenance of forest, soil and water resources, wildlife, biodiversity and reforestation of harvested lands. Public disclosure and the rights and interests of Aboriginal peoples are important aspects.
There are several ways to determine if you are purchasing certified paper and other wood products:
The CSA, FSC, and SFI have nuances that differentiate them from one another, yet all have the overarching goal to identify and recognize forest products sourced in a sustainable manner. Using certified products shows that you care about sustaining Canada’s natural resources and enhancing the level social responsibility of your organization.
Jonathan Lok, RFT, ABCFP President
This article was published in the June 2009 issue of BarTalk. © 2009 The Canadian Bar Association. All rights reserved.