BC's Shawood Lumber is finding a ready market for its FSC-certified wood in environmentally conscious Europe.
By Rick Crosby
Two marlins hit Shaw and a friend's lines at the same time on a fishing trip to Hawaii. The question of who caught the bigger fish has been debated for years. There's no debate these days, though, when it comes to the significance of Shawood Lumber's first shipment of Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified red cedar to Holland this past December.
"It was interesting when we put the feelers out to market FSC-certified
wood," Shaw says, sitting down at his desk. "We really didn't
know what we were getting into."
The Forest Stewardship Council was formed when a group of timber users, traders and representatives of environmental groups met in 1990 to confirm the need of a credible system for identifying well-managed forests and subsequently developed that system. The importance to Shawood Lumber of apparently being the first FSC-certified western red cedar facility in the world is that the company has the all important chain-of-custody as an FSC-certified remanufacturing facility. Chain of custody is the process by which the source of timber is verified. To be eligible to carry the FSC Trademark, timber has to be tracked from the forest through all the steps of the production process until it reaches the end user. The certification process starts in the forest with the contractor who by diligence and ethics comes up with a system that is acceptable to the FSC.
"We are only part of the chain," Shaw explains. "When we receive and custom cut wood at Mainland Sawmills in Vancouver, they have been certified by us and are part of the chain of custody. From there, we bring fibre to our FSC-certified chain-of-custody remanufacturing mill."
When Shawood Lumber ships, they are shipping with full identity and full
accountability to their customers who are also FSC-certified chain of
custody. So everyone that's dealing with a piece of wood from the standing
tree forward is part of the chain of custody.
"That quote comes directly from the mandate of the World Wildlife
Federation-95 Plus group comprised of 88 companies and group members that
have a total of-and this fact I think is quite interesting-about $8.4
billion Canadian dollars annual turnover in wood products," says Shaw
"That is a lot of wood by any standard."
Certification for Shawood appears to be a good strategic move as the FSC
looks to be quite well established. Ten and a half million hectares of
private land has been certified in North America. This could increase to
21.5 million hectares by the end of 2001.
FSC certification is affecting important markets. "I would say Europe
and the UK are a minimum of three to four years ahead of us in their
demand for certified wood," Shaw says. "They are achieving
certified wood out of Scandinavia and Southeast Asia. In Canada, we are
one of the last to join in on this requirement."
Selective logging is an alternative, but selective logging is expensive,
difficult in practice and is management-intense compared to clearcutting.
In some cases, clearcutting may be the only practical harvesting method,
but there will have to be more selective logging as the demand for
certified wood products grows.
To ensure FSC certification, every piece of wood is audited. Each piece of
wood processed through the sawmill or remanufacturing plant is labeled FSC
as it's tracked through the mill.
FSC certification from a logging aspect is clearly in its very early days. Shaw termed the amount of wood that is presently certifiable and any volume likely to come on stream in the next year or two as "just a drop in the bucket."
There have been few contractors and companies that have been certified as resource managers. This is because it's extremely costly and extremely difficult to extract select logging without clearcutting.
Selective logging can be done without visual impacts or damage to wildlife
or the environment.
Certification could bring some stability to the forest industry and also
go a long way towards addressing concerns about protecting the
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