Red tape is harming sustainable forests

Climate change is here with us to stay and something we cannot escape and it is clear that both developed countries and developing countries need to each play a part in addressing the problem. Many suppliers of forest products are getting worried that the red tape resulting from government policies is in danger of creating more harm than good.

There is a great deal of concern that the certified forestry movement is losing its steam, even amongst the environmentalists. Recently the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe stated in Forest Products Annual Market Review the pace of growth for global certified forests has declined from 50 million hectares to only 25 million hectares annually.

And more recently it has fallen even more with the total rate between May 2008 and May 2009 only 4 million hectares. What is ironic is it seems the public is finally getting to better understand what the importance of forests are as far as climate change is concerned and now forestry certification is reaching its all time low.

The UK had an erroneous statement that circulated saying they could offset the greenhouse gas emissions by just planting more trees. When the true fact is that in order to do that they would have to plant over 50 million hectares of plants which is roughly twice the size of the entire nation.

One reason for the poor demand for certification is ignorance. According to one recent study only 12% of owners of forest in the US have ever even heard the words forest certification.

Having already conquered the easy targets the sustainable forestry movement now must tackle the challenging targets of the private and smaller forests as well as land in developing countries. There is a perception that only the largest landowners can afford the costs of obtaining certified status.

Many suppliers of paper and wood products are not able to justify the additional costs of sourcing materials just from certified forests. This situation makes it harder for suppliers to charge more since the end user is reluctant to pay more for verified or certified legal wood products.

One hope is the recent growth in chain of custody (CoC) certifications that have increased by 41% just in the past year. CoC tracks the certified material in the production process from the forest to end user. This helps to provide a link between responsible production methods and enables consumers to make more informed choices in their purchases.