The Buzz on Certification

Summary articles on ISO certification / regulation

Paper mill gets a FSC green light

Fletcher Challenge Canada’s Elk Falls mill received certification that meets Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) standards. The FSC is the only one of three standards being applied in B.C. that has the support of environmental groups, including Greenpeace and the Sierra Club. Fletcher’s announcement took the industry by surprise as they have no forest holdings. The announcement also moves FSC certification away from the enviro-fringe in B.C. and into the mainstream, said John Cathro, chair of the FSC committee that is drawing up standards for sustainable forestry in B.C. Currently six companies in B.C. have received certification through the International Standards Organization (ISO) and the Canadian Standards Association (CSA), but unlike the FSC, those two systems do not certify a chain of custody, a necessary step before an eco-label can be applied to forest products. [Key words: Deborah Somerville, Tamara Stark]

Publication: VANCOUVER SUN

Publication Date: 3/15/2000

Authors: Hamilton, Gordon

Page: D4

Canfor sets the record straight on significance of ISO 14001

[Letter-to-the-Editor] RE: ”Forestry wants ecostamp of approval” (Feb. 7) This article misrepresents what some of these certification systems are all about. Canfor received registration to the ISO 14001 standard in January for all of the company’s forest operations, prior to the acquisition of Northwood Inc. While ISO is a rigorous standard, it does not answer all the questions about forest sustainability. That is why we are also proceeding to put in place the Canadian Standards Association Sustainable Forest Management standard and the Forest Stewardship Council Principles and Criteria. To suggest that the CSA standard is only a process management standard and doesn’t relate to what happens in the forest is simply wrong. The article is correct about the availability of a label or stamp for wood products. ISO is a management system certification, not a product certification. At this time, the CSA standard does not include a product label but one may be developed in the future. The FSC standard has provision for a label providing the applicant has also satisfied the ”chain of custody” requirements of FSC. Contrary to what was reported, ISO, CSA and FSC certification systems require independent verification through a third-party audit. [Paul Wooding is Regional Manager, Forestry. Canadian Forest Products Ltd.]

Publication: TIMES COLONIST

Publication Date: 2/21/2000

Authors: Wooding, Paul T

Page: A17

Forestry wants eco stamp of approval

B.C.’s forest industry is scrambling to get eco-certification of its products. But Uvic’s eco-research chairman in environmental law and policy Mike M’Gonigle said standards have to be tough or they won’t cut it in the international marketplace. Certifications developed by the Canadian Standards Association (CSA) and the International Standards Organization (ISO) are virtually meaningless when translated to the working forest and their impact on environmental issues. Companies such as International Forest Products (Interfor) and Canfor have talked about certification, but they continue to be criticized by environmental groups. Interfor president Duncan Davies said the ISO certification would help provide assurance to our customers that we are meeting world-class standards. But CSA and ISO certify only the process which a company manages its operations, said M’Gonigle. Because BC doesn’t have an endangered species act, a timber company could wipe out a species while not breaking any laws. Such a company could be certified between CSA and ISO. There is also a distinct difference between certifying a company and certifying wood from a specific forest area. A furniture maker seeking Eco-certified wood needs to have assurance that the wood purchased has been stamped at the source, said M’Gonigle. But Interfor, Canfor and other companies such as Western Forest Products have also committed to certifying under the Forest Stewardship Council.

Publication: TIMES COLONIST

Publication Date: 2/7/2000

Authors: Curtis, Malcolm

Page: A3

Furniture company set to sell certified products

A Port Alberni based company, Sarita Furniture Ltd. was recently certified by the B.C. branch of Smart Wood, an organization that promotes conservation through ecological forestry. The furniture company has been accredited for its ability to track its wood supply back to its source in the forest. Company president Keith Wyton said the company plans to launch a line of eco-furniture using wood from forests managed according to standards set by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC). Although the FSC standards are still being developed for B.C., Wyton said it’s possible to certify wood under the FSC’s international standards. The Silva Forest Foundation, an organization founded in the Kootenays by eco-forester Herb Hammond, is poised to be approved as an FSC certifier.

Publication: TIMES COLONIST

Publication Date: 2/7/2000

Authors: Curtis Malcolm

Page: A3

Certification can protect environment

Are you buying certified wood? By choosing products made from certified wood, your money could be translating into a powerful message of support for responsible timber management. But buyer beware – not all certified wood is created equal. Three certification schemes: Forest Stewardship Council; Canadian Standards Association; and International Standards Association are jockeying for market share in Canada. Only the FSC focuses on evaluating ”on-the-ground” timber management and only FSC has support from environmental organizations. Global participation, performance-based criteria, procedures for tracking and marketing wood products has made FSC the most credible forest certification scheme in the world today. In contrast, CSA and ISO systems are largely limited to certifying the management systems of the timber company. There is no indication that CSA or ISO certifications will result in any improvements in the way our forests are logged. Now the B.C. government is getting involved, recently announcing a pilot project to seek certification for its Small Business Forest Enterprise Program. A province-wide environmental management system, which will be designed to satisfy ISO requirements was recently announced by the B.C. government. True ecosystem-based forest certification involves substantial changes and improvements to the way forests are logged. If you care about the impact your dollar is having on our forests, become informed about certification. [Wendy Vasbinder is the certification program co-manager for the Silva Forest Foundation (a founding member of the FSC and a non-profit organization promoting ecosystem-based timber management). She lives in Slocan Park.]

Publication: TIMES COLONIST

Publication Date: 1/28/2000

Authors: Vasbinder, Wendy

Page: A11

Eco-certification in works for province’s timber tenures

Renewed boycott threats against B.C. wood products has prompted Forests Minister David Zirnhelt to apply for environmental certification of the forest lands under its direct control, a huge timber supply accounting for 13% of all logging. ”Virtually every market we have is getting tougher,” Zirnhelt said as he announced a province-wide environmental management system that will go beyond the tough standards of the Forest Practices Code. The plan is the first step in establishing eco-system-based management, the new forestry buzzword in which timber extraction is secondary to maintaining eco-systems. Major buyers of B.C. wood such as Home Depot are demanding certification so they can demonstrate a chain of custody from the products they sell back to the logger as proof the product isn’t contributing to rain forest destruction. Sarah Goodman, of the Forest Alliance of B.C. said the B.C. move is critically important to the industry. ”Anything the government can do to demonstrate to the market that the industry and the government are serious about addressing the sustainability issue consumers have is a positive step.” [Also reported in Times Colonist, Jan.15/2000, pA4: ”Boycotts spark test of forest certification.”]

Publication: VANCOUVER SUN

Publication Date: 1/15/2000

Authors: Hamilton, Gordon

Page: D1

B.C. to start testing forestry practices

Forests Minister David Zirnhelt, followed the lead of several forest companies yesterday, saying the province will seek independent recognition that its own forest lands are managed in an environmentally friendly way. The province will pick up to six locations, in the next three months, and begin testing whether forest practices in those areas will satisfy the standards required for certification by the International Standards Organization, the Canadian Standards Association and the Forest Stewardship Council. Many of B.C.’s forest firms are seeking certification, for example, Western Forest Products Ltd., a subsidiary of Doman Industries Ltd., is working to obtain FSC certification. On Wednesday, forestry giant Canfor announced that it had received an ISO 14001 certification for its forestry practices. The province is seeking certification for those parts of its lands it licenses for logging by small business. That represents about 13% of B.C.’s total allowable annual cut.

Publication: NATIONAL POST

Publication Date: 1/15/2000

Page: D8

Canfor takes eco-system step

Canfor Corp announced Wednesday that its forestry operations have been approved to the international environmental standard. The ISO 14001 registration gives Canfor the largest area of certified forest in Canada. Canfor chief forester Ken Higginbotham said the shift to eco-based forestry marks a major change in the way B.C.’s largest logging company operates. The ISO certification – issued by the International Standards Organization – is part of the overall change, said Higginbotham. It is a first step to achieving broader environmental objectives for Canfor, he added. Canfor will be using elements from the variable-retention logging system introduced last year by MacMillan Bloedel on Vancouver Island but it will also be logging in a way that ensures ecosystems are retained. Canfor intends to log on the coast in a manner that ensures there will always be values of old-growth as well as the values of young and mid-aged forests. Higginbotham credited environmental activists for ”pushing us” into recognizing other forest values. Canfor became B.C.’s largest forest company when it took over Northwood Inc. in December.

Publication: VANCOUVER SUN

Publication Date: 1/13/2000

Authors: Hamilton, Gordon

Page: F4

Certification organizations need to add credibility

The behind-the-scenes fight over forest certification appears to be degenerating into a global brawl, revealing the tarnished haloes of some of its participants. In B.C., several forest companies have been certified by ISO. While the CSA and FSC processes are not operating yet, they have received a number of B.C. applications for certification. The FSC has become mired in controversy. In October, FSC-certified New Brunswick forest company J.D. Irving Ltd., had the certified status of one of its operations revoked after the Sierra Club objected to some practices, especially clearcutting. At an FSC meeting in Vancouver last month, various environmental organizations, including the hardcore Forest Action Network, were accepted to the FSC’s B.C. committee, which will approve forest-practice standards for the province. Although the FSC insists it is not an environmental front, it deferred acceptance of an application by the Forest Alliance, the B.C. industry’s leading organization on certification. Last spring, when the FSC was trying to convince Home Depot to deal exclusively in FSC products, environmental organizations conveniently dispatched protesters to many of its stores including Vancouver. This kind of activity is one factor in a growing concern about FSC’s tactics and its ultimate agenda. An international scandal concerning FSC and Flor Y Fauna also questions FSC’s credibility. Let’s hope their tactics are a little more morally defensible in the future and certification becomes more than a mere weapon to drive forest companies out of business.

Publication: VANCOUVER SUN

Publication Date: 12/15/1999

Authors: Drushka, Ken

Page: D2

CSA system not yet operating in B.C.

[Letter-to-the-Editor] Ken Drushka rightly points out that the global forest certification movement has work to do to gain the international legitimacy it requires to be effective. However, one point is important to clarify: contrary to Drushka’s statement that the CSA system is not yet operating here; in fact B.C. is home to two of the first CSA certifications in Canada. Earlier this year, Weyerhaeuser’s North Island division became the first in the country to meet the CSA standard, and earlier this week, Weldwood of Canada became the first company to achieve a CSA certification on a volume-based tenure. [Tom Tevlin is president of the Forest Alliance of B.C.]

Publication: VANCOUVER SUN

Publication Date: 12/17/1999

Authors: Tevlin, Tom

Page: F2

Interfor seeks ISO nod

International Forest Products [Interfor] says it is on the verge of being eco-certified under International Standards Organization 14001, a Geneva-based standard for forest management. Interfor’s bid for certification of all its coastal operations from Vancouver to Prince Rupert has been recommended following an independent audit by KPMG Quality Registrar Inc. This is an important first step to provide a solid foundation for the work we’re doing and providing some comfort for our customers that we are on the right track, said Interfor’s chief forester Ric Slaco. However, Greenpeace forestry campaigner Tamara Stark says the ISO standard doesn’t cut it with European customers. ISO and another designation by the Canadian Standards Association involve an audit by an independent company of forestry practices laid out by an individual company. In contrast, the Forest Stewardship Council, favoured by Greenpeace, present an independent standard which the company is expected to meet. No major B.C. company has reached the FSC standard and that ISO is not considered an equivalent, said Stark.

Publication: PROVINCE

Publication Date: 12/14/1999

Authors: Anderson, Charlie

Page: A30

TimberWest. ISO environmental certification granted

TimberWest Forest Corp. announced Monday it has received certification of its environmental management system under the standard ISO 14001. The ISO registration is based on the audit of all six TimberWest forest operations, two lumber mills, two log sorts and a deepsea shipping facility. The International Organization for Standardization is a worldwide federation of national standards bodies.

Publication: VANCOUVER SUN

Publication Date: 11/30/1999

Page: D2