Posted by: chrismaser | September 23, 2009



Healing the Landscape


Chris Maser and Walter Smith


FOREWORD: The concept of “certification” for forest management came about as a result of:  (1) concerns over the elimination of rain forests with no plan for replacement in kind, (2) concern for the net total impact of major disruption of large ecosystems and watersheds that can result from conversion of natural forests to agricultural or urban expansion, (3) concern for the social needs of indigenous peoples in developing countries, and (4) a recognition by concerned professionals of the benefits of wood as a renewable product of nature that can be processed with far less overall environmental impact than will result from making steel, plastic, aluminum, and cement.

These were the reasons for finding a means of ensuring that wood as a usable product for sustainable development could be encouraged. To do this, there needed to be some form of auditing harvesting practices and regeneration programs. An international group of people from multiple disciplines of business, the environment, and social services came together to address the interrelationship issues of forest utilization. Their goal was to develop a process that would allow some “endorsed” utilization of the products of forests by defining those principles and criteria that would minimize environmental impact while still achieving social stability.

The Forest Stewardship Council was the product of the work of these visionaries. In 1993, the Forest Stewardship Council became a functioning organization, and the ten principles and criteria for achieving endorsement for good forest management were promulgated.

The founders of the Forest Stewardship Council realized that it was necessary to recognize and address the reality of issues concerning the environment, society, and economics in order to gain a sustainable balance. Overemphasizing any one area could be detrimental to them all.

The concept of outsiders inspecting the activities of forestry professionals has been controversial in the economic and governmental sectors from day one. It was this concern that led the founders of the Forest Stewardship Council to develop a three-chambered organization Environmental, Social, and Economic. It is also the reason that the certification process is divided into three-overview categories renewability, biological diversity, and socio-economic benefits. Although this trilateral certification process is designed to achieve the best possible balance, it will never be perfect from the solitary perspectives of any of the three disciplines.

The Forest Stewardship Council is an international organization. For that reason, it is not a governmental process. Membership is strictly voluntary. Both the forest owner and the wood consumer can be the beneficiaries of forest management certification.

Collins Pine Company was the first corporation in the U.S. to engage in certification under the Forest Stewardship Council’s principles and criteria and carries the differentiated products into the marketplace.

Consumers are consistently displaying their awareness of environmental impacts. Recycling has truly become a watchword for people in many countries. Education through quality information is becoming increasingly critical for consumer acceptance of products. It is virtually impossible for any consumer to reject the concepts embodied in the ten principles and criteria of the Forest Stewardship Council’s certification program. The principles and criteria are designed to recognize and honor the rights of indigenous peoples, to recognize and obey the laws of each country, to require good planning, to consider the health and integrity of the ecosystem as a whole, and in essence to emulate nature.

In a relatively short span of time (10 years), the concepts of the Forest Stewardship Council have been implemented and forest management practices have been reviewed and endorsed in over 50 million acres of forestland in 40 countries on 5 continents. The U.S. represents nearly 6 million acres of this total in over 60 forest properties.

Incorporating more sensitivity toward the overall environment is gaining momentum around the world. It is therefore timely that Chris Maser and Walter Smith provide an extensive dialogue on the background of forestry practices in the United States that concern ecologists, environmentalists, and social servants. Although some people may think their critique to be harsh particularly toward governmental and industrial forestland managers foresters operating under Forest Stewardship Council certification are not likely to return to prior practices. In addition to their critique of forestry practices, Maser and Smith also provide a very detailed explanation of the principles and criteria of the Forest Stewardship Council under the SmartWood program.

Embarking on a journey of sustainability can begin with forest certification. To many, the journey will look like the unknown faced by Columbus’s crew in 1492. Is there an edge to the world? Taking the plunge into forest certification is, for some reason, of great concern to foresters and forest owners. Will the owner and the forester lose control of the property? This seems to be the principle restraint keeping many from embarking on the journey. The answer is on the horizon. I hope Maser and Smith will help chart the course.

James E. Quinn, President, CEO, The Collins Companies


“. . . I do not know of another book on this topic that combines the theoretical with the practical in such a clear and concise fashion. The book’s content ranges from the visionary … to the actual mechanics of a forest assessment. It is [an] in-depth and objective clarification of the Forest Stewardship Council principles and criteria for forest management.”—Hank Cauley, Executive Director, 
Forest Stewardship Council-U.S.

“An environmental dispute facilitator and a former logger and current certification and training consultant discuss the philosophical foundations of current forestry practices, followed by discussion of the principles and practices of sustainable forestry and how the process of certification can enhance it. Throughout, emphasis is placed on balancing ecologically sound and people-friendly forestry practices. Topics include certification and trusteeship; the history of forestry certification; how certification works; and some of the common problems encountered during the process. Attention is given to the Rainforest Alliance’s SmartWood program.”—© Book News, Inc. Portland, OR.

“Walter Smith, a longtime SmartWood auditor and former logger, and Chris Maser, a well-known ecologist and author, have collaborated in producing ‘Forest Certification in Sustainable Development:  Healing the Landscape,’ a 235-page book on the role of certification in improving forest management. The book has been lauded for providing Smith’s perspective as a certification practicioner through his years of work at the Institute for Sustainable Forestry (ISF) in California and SmartWood, and Maser’s visionary perspectives on how certification can foster sustainable forest management. Maser and Smith continue to be involved in SmartWood certification work throughout the Western U.S.”—Rainforest Alliance, New York, NY.

Forest Certification in Sustainable Development:  Healing the Landscape. 2000. Lewis Publishers, Boca Raton, FL. 235 pp.

If you want more information about this book or want to purchase it, visit “BOOKS” on my website.

If you want to contact me, you can visit my website. If you wish, you can also read an article about what is important to me and/or you can listen to me give a presentation.

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