Forest Stewards in the Green

Forest Stewards in the Green

A major certifier of sustainably managed forests is flush with green, thanks to a $5 million grant from the Ford Foundation, an independent, nonprofit philanthropic organization.

According to news reports, the recipient is The Forest Stewardship Council, a nonprofit international organization based in Oaxaca, Mexico, with national working groups and activities in more than 50 countries.

The Forest Stewardship Council will use the grant to expand its worldwide forest certification program over the next five years.

The FSC accredits certification bodies that in turn certify forests that meet FSC principles and criteria and other specific standards identified at the national and regional levels.

Landowners approved as abiding by FSC standards such as protection of biological diversity, conservation of the forest's economic resources and respect for the rights of indigenous peoples may advertise their wood as certified by using the FSC logo.

The concept relies on the assumption that informed consumers who care about environmental protection will trust the certification agency and be willing to make purchases of products that carry the label of that agency.

The FSC is growing quickly. According to Environmental News Network, the global timber industry’s acceptance of certified wood that meets the Forest Stewardship Council’s standards exploded during the first two months of 2001. In January and February, FSC-accredited certification bodies brought 331 new companies into its program, a 30 percent growth in two months.

Companies in the United States that sell FSC-certified wood products include the nation's largest home improvement retailer, Atlanta-based Home Depot; Lowe's Companies, a home improvement retail chain based in Wilkesboro, North Carolina; and Andersen Corporation, based in Bayport, Minnesota, which makes windows and patio doors.

Environmental News Network reported that, since 1993, the Ford Foundation has granted $987,000 to the Forest Stewardship Council. The new $5 million grant is part of a $10 million commitment to the FSC envisioned by the foundation over the next five years.

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