Historically, Appalachian woodland owners have tended to harvest timber just once or twice in their lifetimes. They’d take out some trees when it was time to send a child to college, say, or to retire. But owners are increasingly being enticed to sell their lands to developers, who remove large swaths of trees at once to make way for housing or stores. When the woods go, much that’s irreplaceable—environmentally, economically and culturally—goes with them. By convincing more landowners to achieve FSC® certification, the Alliance hopes to preserve the forest’s value for generations.
It requires reaching out, owner by owner, and demonstrating how managing and harvesting woodlands sustainably can deliver returns as good as or better than conventional logging. Local foresters are joining the Rainforest Alliance staff in making the case. Other “ambassadors” from within the local forest industry are also spreading the word.
Working with an advisory group of regional experts, the Alliance has developed recommendations for supporting a healthy forest ecosystem that give woodland owners clear guidance on how they can support conservation. The Alliance has also developed a forest-management assurance tool design to leverage existing wood procurement systems and provide a point-of-harvest assessment, with the aim of significantly growing the volume of sustainably harvested forest products.
“The point is to show owners how sustainable forest management is in their best interest so that they say, ‘Why wouldn’t I do this?’” says Richard Donovan, senior vice president and vice president of forestry for the Rainforest Alliance.
Roland Simon, leader of corporate sustainability and vice president of procurement for our Label and Graphic Materials business, agrees. “If you’re going to harvest timber from 1,000 acres, there’s a sustainable way to do it and an unsustainable way to do it. And if the cost is exactly the same and the revenue is exactly the same, we think more people will be rational and say, ‘I’ll do it in the way that keeps these woods around for generations.’”
Read more about our commitment to FSC® here.