Earlier this month, Michael T. Goergen Jr. with the Society of American Foresters wrote a well-argued op-ed in the Seattle Times supporting the idea that Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI) wood products should be included as part of U.S. green building standards. And today, the Times ran a response from one of the environmental advocates on the other side of the debate.
The opinion piece from Denis Hayes, one of the organizers of the first Earth Day and now the president of Seattle’s Bullitt Foundation, essentially accuses Goergen of lying when he wrote that the competing Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) wood product certification squeezed out small forest landowners and favored foreign forests over those located in the U.S.
Hayes doesn’t provide any information to back up his assertion that U.S. forests aren’t harmed by the FSC standard. And of small forest landowners, he writes:
Far from harming small family operations, FSC gives them a unique opportunity to command a market premium for careful stewardship.
If only this were true. What Hayes calls a “unique opportunity” is actually a squeeze play that would push many forest landowners into the red. For many landowners, the FSC standard just doesn’t make economic sense. While green building is clearly on the rise, these landowners can’t yet take advantage because the FSC standard doesn’t pencil out. This is why some groups are trying to get the U.S. Green Building Council to welcome other certifications, such as SFI.
Don’t let short-sighted people like Hayes push the timber industry to insolvency by excluding most landowners from the green building boom. Leave your thoughts in the comments section of his Seattle Times op-ed (which stays open to comments for two more days) or send a letter to the editor (no more than 200 words) to firstname.lastname@example.org. Make sure Hayes’ campaign doesn’t go unanswered.