By Scott Gibson
The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) and four environmental advocacy groups in the Pacific Northwest have launched a promotional campaign for forest practices and wood products that help lower carbon emissions.
The Climate-Smart Wood Group says it wants to help builders, architects, and other buyers understand the difference between wood products on the market and make it easier to locate lumber that meets sustainable forestry standards.
In a statement laying out its goals, the group said that growing interest in mass-timber construction underscores the need to choose wood products carefully. Promoters often cite timber as a less carbon-intensive building product than concrete and steel, the group notes, but that’s not necessarily the case.
“All wood is not the same,” the statement says. “Forest management affects carbon storage, human communities, water, and habitat. Climate-smart forestry—which relies on actions such as selective harvesting, longer rotation lengths, and tight restrictions on hazardous chemicals—can store more carbon than commonly practiced forestry.”
Although not without its critics, the FSC manages an international certification program for lumber. In order to qualify and win the right to mark wood with the FSC stamp, forestry companies have to meet certain FSC tests that are designed to minimize damage to the environment and communities where the wood is harvested.
Other groups involved in the Climate-Smart program are Ecotrust, Sustainable Northwest, the Northwest Natural Resource Group, and the Washington Environmental Council. These organizations all are in the Pacific Northwest.
The group notes that in the pulp and paper industry, large companies have influenced forest management and supply chains through their purchasing policies. But the construction sector is not as organized, with many smaller players working independently. The Climate-Smart Wood Group is a way to bring these players together, its opening statement said.