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Published on November 26th, 2007 | by Stephanie Evans


Wood Product Certification

When buying wood for a home project, we want to make sure that it has been sustainably harvested with a minimal impact on surrounding ecosystems that will inevitably be affected.  Now we can know for sure that a product we’re considering has been harvested using sustainable methods—many well-known programs provide certification to companies that demonstrate responsible harvesting by showing a commitment to preserving forest biodiversity and not taking more than what can be replenished.

The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certifies independent, third-party organizations to assess forest management for conservation and ensure that suppliers are using wood that can be traced back to FSC-certified sources—the FSC label enures the integrity of this chain of custody.  Search the FSC wesbite by company or forest.  Also search the Certified Forest Product Council’s website by area, species, specific product, or company.

Another resource is Scientific Certification Systems—a company that utilizes FSC standards to maintain searchable databases of well-managed forests and chain-of-custody companies and products.

The Rainforest Alliance’s SmartWood Program is endorsed by the FSC, and the program’s SmartGuide provides an ever-growing directory of FSC-certified suppliers.  The Rainforest Alliance Rediscovered Wood Program also certifies many reclaimed products—this program is affiliated with, not directly endorsed by, the FSC.

The FSC and the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED (Leadership in Environmental Design) Program work together to develop high industry standards.  While all LEED products are not FSC-certified, the LEED seal ensures that products are designed to increase the energy efficiency of your home.

Questions to ask:

  • When you consider any wood product that’s advertised as “sustainably harvested,” request a chain of custody proof or other documentation detailing the wood’s origin and prior locations.  Also request any documentation for reclaimed or salvaged options.
  • Keep in mind that no list or database is comprehensive—your best option is often a small, local milling operation.

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