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Society of American Foresters E6 – Forest Certification Working Group January 2010 Newsletter In This Edition: 1. Introducing the E6 Officers for 2010 2. Certification Standards Development 3. Feature Article: Ecosystem Improvements Spurred by Forest Certification in Wisconsin 4. Call for newsletter articles New Officers for 2010 Daniel J. Simonds -- 2010 E6 Working Group Chair Daniel is a Society of American Foresters Certified Forester and Forest Certification Auditor, a Licensed Professional Forester in Maine and New Hampshire, an Environmental Management System Lead Auditor, a Chain of Custody Lead Auditor (FSC, SFI, PEFC), a Forest Management Lead Auditor (FSC and SFI) and holds a Commercial Master Pesticide Applicators License in Maine. He received a B.S. degree in Forestry from the University of Maine in 1982. He served as Silviculture Manager and Forester for MeadWestvaco Corporation (formerly Mead Corp. & Boise Cascade) New England Region from 1990 to 2003. From 2004 to 2008, he managed forestry certification auditing services for the SGS Group in North America. He supported sales and marketing, developed internal systems, recruited and trained audit staff, and managed accreditation contracts. He personally lead over 100 audits to the standards noted above and managed and supervised several hundred more. Dr. Stephen C. Grado -- 2010 E6 Working Group Chair-Elect Stephen is a Society of American Foresters Certified Forester and Forest Certification Auditor and Fellow, a Professor of Forestry, and the George L. Switzer Professor in the Department of Forestry at Mississippi State University. He received a Ph.D. in Forest Resources in 1992, a M.S. in Forest Resources and Operations Research in 1984, and a B.S. in Forest Science in 1979 at The Pennsylvania State University, State College, Pennsylvania. He also has a B.A. in Political Science from Villanova University near Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He has served as a socio-economic assessor/auditor on 21 SmartWood pre-assessments and assessments, 3 USDA Forest Service Test Evaluations (one with SGS), and numerous annual field audits (one with SFI). In addition, he has served as an assessor/auditor for innumerable SmartWood chain-of-custody assessments/audits, and also served as a peer reviewer of FSC certification assessment reports. 1 Paul E. Pingrey -- 2010 E6 Newsletter Editor & 2009 Past Chair Paul joined the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources as a forester in 1974, serving in a variety of field and administrative positions over a 35 year career. He has a forestry degree from Iowa State University (B.S. 1974) and received U.S. Forest Service Silviculturist Certification in 1988. His initial field experience focused on private forestry assistance in six southern Wisconsin counties. Paul held three central office jobs as the Forest Tax Law Supervisor, Private Forestry Specialist and most recently the DNR Forest Certification Coordinator. He guided certification of Wisconsin DNR's forestry programs under SFI, FSC and Tree Farm registrations and advised the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest on its certification test review. He contributed to standard revisions as a member of the FSC-US Family Forests Working Group and the American Forest Foundation Independent Standards Review Panel. Recently retired from DNR, Paul plans to continue work as a certification consultant and auditor. Certification Standards Development American Forest Foundation (AFF) - Tree Farm Standard The AFF Board of Trustees approved the 2010-2015 Standards of Sustainability for Forest Certification on November 3, 2009. It includes 8 standards (similar to FSC principles), 14 performance measures (analogous to FSC criteria) and 23 indicators. The concise standard with glossary is only 7 pages long. Although designed originally for family forest owners with up to 10,000 contiguous acres, a November 2009 AFF eligibility policy creates a new Tree Farm Aggregated Management Group category suitable for REITs and TIMOs with individual parcels up to 20,000 contiguous acres and extends eligibility to state and municipal parcels up to 20,000 contiguous acres. Since the acreage limitations apply only to contiguous tracts, Tree Farm certification is effectively available to much larger total ownerships. Sustainable Forest Initiative The 2010-2014 SFI Standard went into effect on January 1, 2010. The SFI standard includes 7 objectives that apply only to forest management, 7 objectives that apply to both forest management and fiber sourcing, and another 6 objectives that apply only to fiber sourcing. SFI objectives are generally like FSC principles. SFI compliance is measured with 38 performance measures and 114 indicators. The SFI Standard is available only to "larger forest operations", although that is not defined numerically. SFI recognizes the American Tree Farm System as "the non-industrial landowner certification program in the U.S.", but it is unclear whether there could be potential conflict for certification of moderate-sized ownerships considering AFF's new eligibility policy. Forest Stewardship Council US Standard A unified FSC-US Standard Draft 8.1 combining the nine regional variations into one was submitted to the FSC International Committee on December 12, 2009. Differences with FSC-IC still need to be worked out, but an approved FSC-US Standard is anticipated by spring 2010. The FSC-US Standard will include 10 international principles and 54 objectives, which will be defined by about 180 US-specific indicators used for auditing. Draft 8.1 does not yet include Principle 10 (Plantation Management) or Family Forest-specific indicators and guidance. As described in Steve Wilent's article in the December 2009 SAF Source, there was considerable dissatisfaction with the draft Principle 10 released for public input last fall. The proposed Family Forest Standard will need additional work in 2010. 2 Wisconsin ecosystem improvements, spurred by forest certification By Paul Pingrey In December 2009 I retired from Wisconsin DNR after 35 years of service, the last six years as DNR's Forest Certification Coordinator. The agency fostered more than 7 million acres certified under Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI), or American Tree Farm System standards in that time period. We also invested about $110,000 per year in direct audit costs plus the time to plan and conduct reviews on 5 million acres administered by DNR. Was it worth the time and trouble? I distinctly recall a Natural Resources Board meeting in 2004 where the only testimony opposing certification of Wisconsin's State Forests was presented by a representative of the local Sierra Club chapter. He argued certification would be a waste of money and do little to improve management1. After all, DNR has a statutory requirement to responsibly manage the state's forests for environmental, social, and economic benefits. Why pay someone else to show us where the difficulties are? Yes, state governance offers a system of complaints, judicial review and legislative oversight to address administrative problems. The progress that I witnessed since 2004, however, shows that forest certification's non-confrontational, consultative approach is more effective for achieving innovative improvement. While changes to DNR's management programs may have occurred without the nudge of third-party audits, following is a sampling of purposeful changes that I believe Corrective Action Requests (CARs) identified in certification audits2 brought about more rapidly. Payne Farm Road improvements, Flambeau River State Forest. 1 Wisconsin Natural Resource Board Minutes, April 2004, p.5 2 The full reports from all Wisconsin DNR certification audits are available online. 3 Environmental Benefits Better roads and trails. The forestry profession's tolerance of road and site disturbance evolved considerably since 1974 when I started at Wisconsin DNR. I recall foresters once conjured pretexts like "the weather just didn't cooperate on that harvest" or "we can't close that muddy road to hunters because it's the only access route." Norms changed with the advent of BMP guides long before certification came along. Still, when financial or staffing resources are limited or political barriers exist, action sometimes needs a push. Audits prompted DNR to complete road inventories, develop road access plans (including appropriate seasonal road closures), and to repair eroded or rutted roads and trails. Certification audits were instrumental in getting new Wisconsin state budget allotments of $200,000 annually for State Forest facility maintenance and $2 million annually for DNR roads and trails. Streamlined master planning process, more resources to complete master plans, and establishment of an accelerated master planning schedule. Wisconsin DNR owns about 1.5 million acres in 1,422 separate properties. As in most states, acquiring noteworthy conservation lands before they are lost to development is a high priority. Legislatures tend to put off addressing planning and management needs, however, to another day. Such was the case in respect to master plans for DNR's many holdings. Not that master planning challenges are all resolved, but the situation has improved dramatically since 2003. Master planning moved up as a top priority and the work is getting done. Basic management planning components like property objectives can now be found on the DNR Internet so the public can understand how the land is cared for as formal master plans are updated or prepared for the first time. Wisconsin Gov. Jim Doyle (center) with county forest administrators at certification award in 2005. Stronger DNR oversight of County Forest management. In Wisconsin, 27 counties own 2.4 million acres in a DNR administered group certification program. While DNR has supervised County Forests since the 1930's, management quality between autonomous counties was inconsistent, often due to local political interests. Certification audits have caused DNR and the County Forests to implement more rigorous management systems and give attention to landscape-scale considerations. Counties still exercise independence, but overall silviculture quality and consistency have risen not only from DNR oversight but also because County Forest managers are sharing more ideas across boundaries. 4 Formal designation of Natural Areas and other representative sample sites on County Forests. Prior to certification, many counties were reluctant to formally recognize special sites. County governments wanted to hold out for payments before granting formal protection. DNR's budget was insufficient to buy rights for all the meritorious sites, but the financial incentives related to selling certified forest products from actively managed units were enough to persuade county officials to designate many reserves. Certification audits prompted endangered resources surveys, High Conservation Value Forest evaluations and formal recognition of special sites in County Forest master plans. Market-based rewards have provided incentive to other landowners to also protect special sites. Updated, current forest reconnaissance data. Prior to 2004, much of DNR and County Forest vegetative cover data was more than 25 years old. About 30 percent of DNR- owned land had never been inventoried. CARs and state legislation prompted DNR to focus resources on recon updates and on visiting all properties. Today, most recon is less than 15 years old and all DNR-owned lands have forest inventories that help establish sustainable harvest levels. Auditors interview a timber producer about training and safety precautions. Master plan implementation monitoring. Although DNR policies require a plan-do- check-act system, master plan implementation monitoring (check and act) was a low priority and not getting done prior to certification. The auditors were persistent and did not accept half-hearted attempts to address the deficiency. The Forestry Division now has a strong monitoring program for master plans, and the Land Division (with State Parks, Wildlife Areas and other state lands first certified in 2008) is quickly catching up. Safer pesticide use policies. Certification caused DNR programs to drop use of products considered highly hazardous by FSC and to generally reduce the use of other pesticides. Both FSC and SFI indicators triggered clearer pesticide-use training requirements, training tools, enforcement of pesticide storage rules and pesticide-use record keeping. While DNR operational staff had been seeking better pesticide guidance for some time, 5 the wheels weren't squeaking loudly enough to warrant top-level attention until a CAR was issued. More trained loggers. In 2005, DNR and County Forests created a logger safety training prerequisite for bidding on public timber sales. The change was in direct response to a gap identified in audit reports. Now, timber harvest contractors on both public and private sales have at least one logger who maintains SFI training qualifications. Once the bidding prerequisite was in place, old arguments about training costs and even functional illiteracy impairments fell away. Green-tree retention for wildlife habitat. Audit reports compelled the Forestry Division to add unambiguous timber harvest tree retention policies to the Wisconsin DNR Silviculture Handbook and to train foresters about the importance of retention and structural development for future wildlife needs. This represents a significant change over past harvesting policies that often left tree retention to chance. Development of measureable guidelines for unacceptable soil disturbance. Certification CARs were an important consideration in the development of a consistent statewide policy on unacceptable soil rutting and compaction levels in timber harvests. The new guidelines have been incorporated into state and Paul Pingrey with a retained snag. county timber sale contracts and a model contract for private lands. Development of Biomass Harvest Guidelines. The push to implement Biomass Harvest Guidelines came from a number of directions because of new technology and expanding markets for bio-fuels. Initially, there was contention about how much wood should be left behind, some interests wanting to cash-in as much fiber as possible. It looked like local ordinances might have resulted in a patchwork of different retention rules across the state. A forest certification CAR, however, focused the need for a uniform statewide policy rather than different and potentially confusing approaches. Building on Minnesota's biomass harvest guidelines, Wisconsin now has a respected standard. Creation of a model group certification program for small private landowners. Some people questioned whether forest certification could be relevant or practical for a sizeable number of small private owners. We proved it could by organizing what may be the largest small-landowner group in the world. Wisconsin's Managed Forest Law group, based on a property tax incentive program, boasts about 42,000 parcels with 2.2 million acres dual certified under Tree Farm and FSC standards. 6 An MFL review team snowshoes to the woods for a Tree Farm audit in Ashland County. Making private Managed Forest Law (MFL) plans more dynamic, with plan updates and refreshed Natural Heritage Inventory checks at the time of scheduled management practices. DNR once considered MFL forest management plans as "fixed contracts" for either a 25-year or 50-year period. That often imposed problems since it is difficult to predict changes in the forest ecosystem or new science over such a long term. Certification helped MFL plans transition into dynamic documents that reflect current stand conditions, new information and evolving concepts of ecosystem management. A digital MFL Plan Template and Cutting Notice have been devised to simplify management plan origination and updating. Certification has also resulted in better MFL harvest oversight by consulting foresters and DNR staff. Implementation of internal MFL program monitoring. Tree Farm and FSC certification required DNR to monitor how the DNR Regions were administering the program. As a result, a Central Office team visits a different Region every year to conduct a desk audit and a field review. The internal monitoring discovered numerous program inconsistencies that were corrected. The reviews also provide the opportunity to acknowledge excellent work being done by DNR service foresters. Improved resource manager training for a variety of issues, including landscape-level planning, identification and control of invasive species, identification of rare and endangered resources, and identification of cultural and historic sites. Impetus to update water quality Best Management Practices (BMPs) for better protection of vernal pools and wetlands. BMP development is a complex, consensus driven public process. In the past, the working committees were unwilling to tackle some issues like vernal pools, but forest certification "Opportunities for Improvement" (observations of potential future CARs) are influencing deliberations. Adding new listings to the Natural Heritage Inventory (NHI) database in a more timely fashion. While field managers and partners were reporting new observations, staff 7 shortages to verify and map the records resulted in a four to five year bottleneck in sharing information. A certification audit CAR helped resolve the problem. More consistent regeneration monitoring. In many locations, regeneration monitoring records were kept only in foresters' heads. Follow-through depended on institutional memory, which could be lost as people transferred or retired. The recon system and instructions were changed to help assure better regeneration check-ups. Social Benefits Amish family visiting Wildcat Mountain State Park overlook. Improved stakeholder input mechanisms on annual DNR property operations. This includes open houses, newsletters, and more information on property management posted on the Internet. Improved internal communication between forest managers, ecologists, biologists, and other resource specialists, and supervisors through annual integrated property meetings. Better communication with tribes. DNR tribal liaisons have been identified and trained, there are more face-to-face meetings with tribal representatives, tribal concerns are addressed in master plans, and tribal personnel are helping provide cultural training. Audits help solve formerly intractable personnel management issues. Sometimes local politics and social constraints make it difficult to confront disciplinary issues. Bringing in an independent auditor can break a logjam, bring in external mediation, and accomplish closure. Improved worker safety resulting in less risk of injury (e.g., pesticide use training, safety-conscious behavior, logger training requirements). Better use of State Historical Society information and protection of culturally significant sites. 8 Economic Benefits Chain of Custody discussion at a log landing. A healthier economy. Wisconsin initially entered into forest certification at the urging of forest industry (perhaps the root of the Sierra Club's skepticism). Companies saw it as a necessary measure to retain and expand markets in a global economy that increasingly demands goods from certified, responsibly managed forests. Industry representatives claim the supply of certified raw materials in the Lakes States helped them to weather the economic downturn of 2008-2009. They say the demand for certified products is the only area that displayed consistent growth. Wisconsin's paper and printing industry has benefited most, but solid wood manufacturers of flooring, doors, windows, and other architectural elements are also profiting. Although higher timber revenue for landowners is difficult to document, certification helped them maintain steady income. Wisconsin's logging contractors were hit hard by the recession, but certified harvests kept many logging operators going. Saving forester jobs. Forest certification was instrumental in reversal of a 2004 state budget initiative to cut 32 DNR service forester positions. Stakeholders persuaded the State Legislature and the Governor to reverse the cuts so the foresters could address public land management needs identified in certification audits. Increased DNR operating budgets. The need to pay for certification audits and to address related land management gaps have been important considerations in DNR budget packages in the last three biennia. Although more budget resources are needed (especially for master planning, biotic inventories and terrestrial invasive species 9 control), certification and the associated economic benefits have helped DNR to stabilize its fiscal position relative to other state agencies in the recent recession. From a personal perspective, forest certification is a richly rewarding experience. I learned from talented and dedicated resource professionals including Wisconsin DNR's program administrators, DNR field staff, and auditors from NSF-International Strategic Registrations, Scientific Certification Systems and SmartWood. Forest certification is an essential part of the green energy and responsible forestry revolution sweeping the globe. Yes, forest certification is worth the time and trouble, and all natural resource managers (not just foresters) should be engaged. Call for Newsletter Articles If you have an interest in forest certification, this is your newsletter! Please consider sharing an experience, your research, a project or interesting questions by writing an article for the SAF E6 Certification Working Group Newsletter. Our intent is to distribute the newsletter at least quarterly with copy deadlines of March 21, June 21 and September 21. Feel free to send your submittals to Dan (firstname.lastname@example.org), Steve (email@example.com) or Paul (below). Paul Pingrey E6 Working Group Newsletter Editor Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; phone 608-274-2827 January 12, 2010 10
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