Certification is a voluntary process that is undertaken to provide assurance to industry, government, customers, stake holders and the public that Sustainable Forest Management is being practiced. Sustainable Forest Management is the management of the Forest in a manner that maintains, improves, enhances and provides current and future health and renewal of the forests and the ecosystems they support. Certification not only ensures that lawful harvesting and reforestation occur, but that other environmental, economical and social factors are being taken into consideration and addressed appropriately.
Wood products originating from a certified forest and a non-certified forest have the exact same properties. The wood is no better or worse and of no greater value in its structure to make a 2×4 or wooden chair. The choice to purchase a certified product comes from the consumer’s knowledge and value system. Many consumers base their purchases on principles that are important to them such as Certification.
CSA Certification provides added assurance to the consumer that the products s/he is purchasing come from legally harvested areas. In British Columbia, Canada there are legal and institutional frameworks for harvesting timber, (not to mention the highest social and environmental standards in the world) which make it extremely difficult to illegally harvest and sell illegal timber. However, this is not the case in many other countries that lack policies, procedures and mandates in harvesting timber. Therefore, if you are unfamiliar with the country of origin’s laws and regulations on harvesting timber, you may wish to purchase a product that is Certified to ensure it is ethically and legally harvested.
Both certifications are designated as Sustainable Forest Management systems which focus on environmental, social, and economical aspects of harvesting and monitored by an independent 3rd party certification body.
Many of the principles and mandates are the same among the 2 certifications; however they may differ in their approach and in their focus on each area. For example, CSA focuses on public input and consultation which is appropriate in that it originated in Canada where most of the forest land is owned by the Crown (government) and the people of Canada are essentially the landlords. There is a real emphasis on having the public and stakeholders participate in the management system to ensure that all sides are taken into consideration.
FSC emphasizes social issues and values and establish standards in countries that lack legal and institutionalized structures to manage and address those concerns.
For a detailed summary comparison between CSA and FSC please go to www.naturallywood.com under Managing for Sustainability; Third Party Certification.
Certifying a harvesting area is a rigorous, lengthy, expensive, and all encompassing process. It is very common to designate one person or a team of people to take on this project and continue the on going maintenance of the system. There are great financial costs to implement and maintain this Certification which is then added into the cost of harvesting and manufacturing the products. Each company prices their products both certified and non-certified as they see fit within the market.
Yes, in April 2016 the US Green Building Council (USGBC) announced that it would now recognize CSA’s Forest Certification Program in the LEED building rating system.