The Wildwoods Forestry Standard – Addressing an Unmet Need:
What is it? The Wildwoods Standard is a new forest stewardship standard that supplements and serves as an extension to the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) standards. To achieve excellent forest stewardship, producers and consumers must work together to challenge ourselves to create even better outcomes for both forests and the people who work with them. In the same way that the success of LEED certification logically led to the development and success of the Living Building Challenge, growers, processors, and users of wood products feel that it is time to develop tools that help us strengthen the FSC system.
What it’s Not – This is not a system or program for forest certification, such as FSC, the Sustainable Forestry Initiative, or Tree Farm. These systems combine standards with integrated systems for coordinating participation and overseeing compliance.
Why Use it? Consumers of wood products are asking for high quality forest stewardship and are ready to support it through their purchasing choices. Forest stewards are enthusiastically ready, willing, and able to respond to this demand. All systems of forest certification are committed to continuous improvement and the development of this new standard is an example of acting on this commitment. An increasing number of grower – consumer partners who have been active, long time supporters of FSC share concerns that the FSC standards have been and continue to be diluted in ways that seriously undermine the program’s success. The issues include undifferentiated inclusion of FSC plantation grown wood in the market place and ineffective management of the mixed credit program. While FSC leaders acknowledge the problems, efforts to address them have not been successful. All current forest certification standards play a useful role in encouraging market-driven improvement in forest stewardship; the Wildwoods standard fills an unfilled niche focused on excellent forest stewardship.
How it Works – Because the Wildwoods standard is an extension of the FSC system, forests meeting the new standard will continue to be FSC certified. In addition to regular FSC audits, the credibility of meeting the new standard will be assured through the combination of three main elements: 1) it is assumed that a direct relationship between growers and consumers will allow consumers to directly and easily assess the practices used by the grower, 2) growers are responsible of providing consumers with accessible and accurate information documenting that they meet or exceed the standard, and 3) consumers will take responsibility for periodically reviewing the grower’s practices to ensure compliance. Forest stewards using the Wildwoods standard will work with one another to additionally ensure compliance with the standard.
|Forest Stewardship Council*||Wildwoods Standard|
|The Goal||“advancing responsible forest management globally”||regenerative, restorative, commonwealth-positive forestry|
|Structure||a certification system||a set of operating standards|
|Verification||3rd party audit||3rd party audit plus grower-consumer relationship|
|Maximum Opening||Unlimited in plantation standard, 40 acres in native forest standard||five acres|
|Normal Opening||unspecified||two acres maximum|
|Mixed credit/mixed source||acceptable||not acceptable|
|Herbicide Use||widely used||Last resort – primarily with invasive non natives|
|Fertilization||widely used||Reliance on natural processes make unnecessary|
|Irrigation||Acceptable and common||not acceptable|
|Monitoring and Accountability||required, but lenient||Must accurately track status and trends in forest systems|
|Wood Circle||unlimited||Target = 80 miles or less
Max. = 300 miles
|Grower-Consumer Relationship||Designed to allow anonymity||Requires familiarity|
*Given that FSC chooses to make no distinction in the marketplace between products grown under its plantation standard and its native forest standard, it seems appropriate and important to evaluate based on FSC’s least stringent standards.