Forest Certification and Global Competitiveness
The 1992 “Earth Summit”, held in Rio de Janeiro addressed numerous environmental and social concerns of nations around the world, including global deforestation. These concerns led to the creation of forest certification systems. Forest certification is the process of verifying that forests are planted, grown, and/or harvested and wood products are produced, based on a set of sustainable standards.
Although there are currently numerous certification systems, consensus opinion is that most of the current systems, such as the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) and Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI), were created and geared toward the sustainable management of softwood forests (conifer trees, such as pines). There also is a belief that the current cost and complexity of obtaining forest management and chain-of -custody certification prohibits owners of hardwood forests and producers of hardwood products, which tend to be small, family-owned entities, from obtaining certification. With the increase in certification world-wide, challenges associated with obtaining certification could place Appalachian hardwood landowners and wood products producers at a competitive disadvantage.
Our research focuses on understanding the unique characteristics of the Appalachian hardwood industry and how these characteristics affect landowners’ and producers’ decisions to pursue certification. This knowledge will give certifying bodies much needed information on the unique dynamics of the hardwood industry. It also will give members of the hardwood industry information on current certification trends. This knowledge is necessary to enhance industry competitiveness and market opportunities for both the landowner and producer. This information will be collected by means of field studies, in which we survey landowners, producers, and other key entities involved in the certification process in eastern U.S.
By gaining a better understanding of certification as it relates to the Appalachian hardwood industry, certifying bodies will be better able to develop certification systems that are useful and accessible to both small and large landowners/producers. Our findings also will be used to develop: (1) educational materials that promote certification as well as provide information about the certification process to the public; (2) workshops that help producers develop efficient means to market certified wood products; (3) workshops to enhance networking among key entities in the certification process; and (4) print and web-based media to disseminate timely information on certification and marketing of hardwood products. This information will be distributed directly to the forest products industry, state forestry agencies, utilization foresters, consultants, and others involved in the certification decision-making process.
Montague, Iris, 2009. Chain-of-Custody Certification in the Appalachian Hardwood Region – Trends, Drivers, and Challenges. Dissertation. University of Georgia.
Montague, Iris, 2009. Chain-of-Custody Certification in the Appalachian Hardwood Region – Trends, Drivers, and Challenges. PowerPoint Presentation presented at the 63rd Annual Forest Products Society International Conference.
Montague, Iris, 2009. The Influence of Trade Associations and Group Certification Programs on the Certification Movement: A Survey of Primary Manufacturers in the Appalachian Region and Case Studies of Appalachian Hardwood Manufacturers, Inc (AHMI), National Wood Flooring Association (NWFA), And the State of Wisconsin’s Managed Forest Law Program. Poster Presentation presented at the 63rd Annual Forest Products Society International Conference.
- Iris Montague, USDA-Forest Service Northern Research Station - Research Forester
- Jan Wiedenbeck, USDA-Forest Service Northern Research Station - Research Forest Products Technologist
Last Modified: 11/10/2009