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Potlatch's Sustainable Forestry
Alex Steffen, 15 May 05

The Potlatch Corporation cuts trees. After a century of horrificly destructive logging all around the planet, we don't usually think of timber companies as green, but Potlach, it turns out, is increasingly one of the good guys. They've won Forest Stewarship Council certification for 667,000 acres of their land in Idaho and 473,000 acres in Arkansas, and are moving towards certifying an additional several hundred thousand acres of their 1.5 million acres of timberland. Most interestingly, to me, they're framing the move as a boon to their shareholders, and being pretty transparent about their practices:

"FSC certification will contribute significantly to our strategy of employing third-party certification to add to shareholder value," [CEO L. Pendleton] Siegel said. "There appears to be a growing trend among large building products retailers, secondary manufacturers, architects, contractors and governments at all levels toward preferences for certified products, including FSC-certified products." ...He added that third-party certification demonstrates the company's commitment publicly in ways that can benefit shareholders as well as society and the environment.

I'm not an expert in sustainable forestry, but FSC is totally reputable, and Potlatch appears to be on the level -- you can even download copies of third-party audits of their forestry practices on their site. And it is certainly, in any case, a move in the right direction, and an indicator that bright green logging may not be a contradiction in terms, after all.

(via CSC)


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My eyes started to glaze over reading their certification docs before I found an answer -- do they ban monoculture farming? Or do they allow it under some sort of definitional loophole like, "full biodiversity is not required if a X% perimeter of biodiversity exists at the edge of a forest."

Posted by: jet on 15 May 05

It's great that FSC certification, like LEED in building, is catching on. One can imagine FSC upping the ante in a few years with an "FSC Platinum" certification, or some such, modeled on LEED Platinum, to address more concerns. By then companies will have (hopefully) seen the competitive benefits and want to keep standing out from the crowd by earning the new label. It's been working that way in the organic food industry--now I buy only shade grown, bird friendly, fair trade organic coffee, not just old-fashioned organic. You can keep doing this forever, each new round keeping the companies on their toes. Here's hoping anyway...

Posted by: Jeff Rusch on 16 May 05

There is also some importance in Potlatch being the first major US forestry company to adopt any FSC certification. To date, all of the major (publicly-traded) US timber companies have toed the industry line and certified to the industry supported, and less stringent, SFI.

I'm hoping that this break in the ranks will lead to a splintering of the industry-wide stance on FSC.

Posted by: SamW on 16 May 05



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