Protecting Vulnerable Forests With Safety Checks
All the talk about how the demand for agricultural products — such as coffee, cocoa and oils — poses a risk to forests has gotten me thinking more about the wood siding on houses, doors and even bookshelves that brings such beauty to a home. I’m reminded of a friend who used to work for a paper company whose signature tagline was, “Trees are a renewable resource. Plant one today.” But what kind of monitoring was in place before the wood appeared in my house? Was anyone checking on harvesting sustainability practices?
I turned to the experts behind the scenes at NSF International Strategic Registrations (NSF-ISR) for answers. This team helps ensure that timber and non-timber forestry products are created according to sustainability standards. NSF-ISR employs third-party auditors and experts who have made a map matrix of certification standards that enhance global efforts to tackle the environmental crises complicated by deforestation, climate change and unethical trading practices.
As the go-to experts on forestry education, they offered some factors to consider if you want to be a “forest-smart” consumer, including:
It Isn’t Straightforward
Forestry sustainability certification is not required and is entirely voluntary. That means that not everyone procures wood from trees in a way that leaves the most negligible impact on their surroundings — including the plants, soil, wildlife and water that exist in the forest. This is magnified when you consider the thousands of forestry acres harvested to make products like the wood in your home.
One of the complications in keeping forestry practices sustainable is that the value chains tend to be complex, making the oversight of production practices more challenging. These standards support maximizing value chains and managing them responsibly.
Doing Your Research
Suppose you want to help ensure that the wood in your home has been produced responsibly. In that case, you can explore its certification to standards like these.
Playing Your Part
Look for the sustainable forestry marks on the wood products you purchase. Everything from envelopes and paper plates to printer paper and paper towels can be part of this movement.