Comparison of Two Forest Certification Systems and Oregon Legal Requirements
Final Report to the Oregon Department of Forestry
Richard A. Fletcher
Paul W. Adams
Steven R. Radosevich
The Forest Research Laboratory at Oregon State University, established
by the Oregon Legislature, conducts research leading to sustainable forest
yields, innovative and efficient use of forest products, and responsible
stewardship of Oregon’s resources. Its scientists conduct this research
in laboratories and forests administered by the University and cooperating
agencies and industries throughout Oregon. Research results are made available
to potential users through the University’s educational programs
and through Laboratory publications such as this, which are directed as
appropriate to forest landowners and managers, manufacturers and users
of forest products, leaders of government and industry, the scientific
community, the conservation community, and the general public.
Richard A. Fletcher is Associate Professor and Extension Forester in the
Department of Forest Resources, Paul W. Adams is Professor in the Department
of Forest Engineering, and Steven R. Radosevich is Professor in the Department
of Forest Science, Oregon State University, Corvallis.
Funding for the study was provided by the Oregon Department of Forestry,
Forest Practices Program. The authors wish to acknowledge the extensive
reviews of initial drafts that were provided by employees of the Oregon
Department of Forestry, PriceWaterhouseCoopers, and the Sustainable Forestry
Initiative Program. David Morman, policy program manager for the Oregon
Department of Forestry in Salem, also deserves thanks for his vision and
leadership, which made the project possible.
The mention of trade names or commercial products in this publication
does not constitute endorsement or recommendation for use.
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Comparison of Two Forest Certification Systems and Oregon Legal Requirements
Final Report to the Oregon Department of Forestry
Richard A. Fletcher
Paul W. Adams
Steven R. Radosevich
Fletcher, RA, PW Adams, and SR Radosevich. 2002. Comparison of Two Forest
Certification Systems and Oregon Legal Requirements. Paper in Forest Policy
XX, Forest Research Laboratory, Oregon State University, Corvallis.
Oregon forest practices, mandated by state law, meet or exceed requirements
of two commonly used forest certification systems in some key areas, such
as regeneration, fire control, protection of water resources and endangered
species, and visual and air quality. Standards of certification systems
differ from Oregon forest practice law not only in that they are voluntary,
but also in that they arise from different philosophies and approaches
and are designed to meet somewhat different objectives. Oregon law is
mostly concerned with protecting public assets while recognizing the importance
of growing and harvesting trees. Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) systems
are the most detailed regarding environmental impact of forest management,
and they are most concerned with socioeconomic questions such as land
tenure, economic viability of operations, and responsibility to communities.
Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI) standards are directed at several
highly visible public concerns about forest management; namely, sustainability,
reforestation, special-use areas, water quality, and chemical use. Certification
systems address whole ownerships and management systems, while Oregon
law focuses primarily on management practices.
FSC systems require meeting or exceeding all laws, while SFI requires
meeting laws pertaining to water quality, chemical use, reforestation,
and labor practices. The two FSC certifiers examined, SmartWood and Scientific
Certification Systems, have similar certification guidelines, but they
differ significantly in emphasis and detail. They also differ in some
ways from the FSC national indicators, which are the blueprint in the
United States for development of all FSC regional rules. Each of the systems
examined, including Oregon law, has at least one area in which it exceeds
the others in emphasis. Under both Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) and
Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI) standards, forest landowners in
Oregon must meet higher requirements than in states without comprehensive
forest practice laws and rules.
|Table of Contents
Oregon Forest Laws and Forest Certification in Perspective
||Overall Summary Points
Implications of Findings
Program Administration and Process
Forest Planning and Monitoring
Forest Management Practices
The purpose of the project is to document, compare, and summarize
the various standards and requirements of Oregon forest landowners
under applicable state and federal laws, with two major voluntary
forest certification systems. It is not an assessment of implementation,
but instead a policy analysis. Specifically, this analysis focuses
on the following tasks:
||1. Summarize and report on the current
standards and requirements for Oregon private forest landowners to
become certified under:
||• The Forest Stewardship Council
(FSC) system, using SmartWood and Scientific Certification Systems
(SCS) certifier standards and FSC national indicators, and
The Sustainable Forestry Initiative® (SFI)SM Program.
||2. Examine, summarize, and report on the
current standards and requirements that Oregon private forest landowners
must meet to comply with state and federal laws applicable to forest
management and related practices. Other laws (e.g., labor, safety,
etc.) are included only in generalized analyses as they pertain to
3. Analyze and report on how compliance with Oregon and federal laws
satisfies current standards and requirements for certification under
the FSC and SFI programs.
study compares the legal requirements facing Oregon forest landowners
with the required standards of two widely used forest certification
systems, Forest Stewardship Council and Sustainable Forestry Initiative
Program. The study examines the FSC standard as it is applied in two
different certifier guidelines and it examines the FSC national indicators
for the United States, which are a blueprint for developing regional
rules. The study also examines the SFI system-wide standards and procedures
for completing verifications, but does not examine verification audit
procedures for any specific organization.
Only the third-party options for
each of the certification systems were examined in this study. Provisions
that do not require third-party verification are not covered. Stewardship
Agreements, although optional under Oregon forest law, were examined
in this study because they are comparable in some ways to voluntary
The FSC guidelines used were those
designed to use with management of natural forests. Plantation guidelines
of FSC were not examined because the only forests in Oregon that fit
the FSC plantation category are converted agricultural fields, which
mostly contain poplar plantations and are an insignificant percentage
of overall forest base.
Completing this analysis involved
consultation with ODF Forest Practices and Forest Resources Planning
Department staffs for accurate evaluation of state and federal laws
and regulations. It also involved review by FSC, SFI, SmartWood, SCS,
and personnel of the accounting and auditing firm PriceWaterhouseCoopers
for advice on study approach, supporting documents, and draft reports.
Extensive reviews of initial drafts
were provided by employees of the Oregon Department of Forestry, PriceWaterhouseCoopers,
and the Sustainable Forestry Initiative Program. FSC representatives
and certifiers were provided an opportunity to review the drafts,
but did not do so. Reviews were conducted to ensure accuracy. Findings
and implications are the conclusions reached by the solely by the
authors and do not represent a consensus among the reviewers.
Primary documents used for this
study were the most current versions available of:
• The Oregon Forest Practices Act (OFPA) and related Administrative
Rules (OARs) for forest lands and operations.
• Other Oregon Statutes (ORSs) and Administrative Rules related
to forest-land use and operations.
• Sustainable Forestry Initiative, 2001 version (Sustainable
Forestry Initiative Standard 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003).
• RIEE/SmartWood Oregon FSC Certification Guidelines, 1999 version.
• Scientific Certification Systems Forest Conservation Program,
• FSC National Indicators, February 2001 version.
Any study focused on evaluation
of evolving systems is made more difficult by ever-shifting standards.
All the systems under study were changing as this report was being
completed. The SFI program, for one, made a number of changes that
were approved for use beginning in January 2002. Where known and appropriate,
we have made comments on forthcoming changes in the various systems.
While each certification system
concentrates on slightly different environmental or management issues
and uses somewhat different terminology, the intent of this study
is to compare and contrast the systems in light of a common set of
terms about the relevant forestry issues. Thus, this analysis was
guided by the certification categories shown in Table
1Oregon Forest Law and Forest Certification In Perspective
Oregon's system of forest laws
and rules has a rich history. Beginning with a reforestation act in
1941, Oregon has been a national leader in conserving forest lands
and protecting public assets such as air, water, fish, and wildlife.
During the decade of the 1970s Oregon implemented the nation's first
comprehensive Forest Practices Act (1972) and a land-use planning
law (Senate Bill 100 in 1976), which required commercial forest land
to be identified and protected from development. Numerous changes
have been made to the forest practices act, and the land use laws
have been reaffirmed throughout the remainder of the 20th century.
The practice of certifying a forest
as well managed began in the United States in 1941, when the American
Tree Farm System was established as a public relations program to
communicate forest management efforts on private lands to the public.
Tree Farm, now sponsored by the American Forest Foundation (AFF),
was not created in response to pressures in the marketplace, as some
current systems have been. Membership has always been limited to properties
that have passed inspection by a tree farm inspector appointed by
Since the early 1990s, many new
certification systems have appeared. In 1993, the Worldwide Fund for
Nature and other environmental groups created the Forest Stewardship
Council (FSC), with an international certification system. The intent
was to protect tropical forests and to help tropical timber producers
avoid boycotts of their products in Europe's environmentally sensitive
wood product markets. The FSC is a worldwide, nonprofit membership
organization with three voting chambers dealing with the economic,
environmental, and social aspects of forest management. The FSC has
adopted 10 worldwide forest management principles and associated criteria.
In addition, FSC accredits and oversees international organizations
to conduct FSC certifications, and leads in the development of regional
The United States based American
Forest & Paper Association (AF&PA), an industry trade group,
began developing its own certification system in the late 1980s based
on public polling, which showed concerns about forest sustainability.
Initially the SFI Standard and Program guidelines were developed to
include self-reporting by members. Since its formal introduction in
1995, the SFI Program has been modified substantially, so that it
now includes a third-party verification option with mandatory core
indicators. The Sustainable Forestry Board, an appointed committee
composed of 40% AF&PA members and 60% non-member stakeholders,
now manages the SFI program. Although directed primarily at its member
companies, the system has expanded to include other private and public
ownerships through a licensing arrangement.
Worldwide, certification systems
have proliferated rapidly over the past decade. At least 40 different
systems are known to exist currently. This project examines two major
systems used in the United States. This does not imply that these
systems are the only valid ones to consider.
Here is a brief glossary of terms
pertaining to certification:
• Assessment: The process of determining whether a forest operation
meets the criteria for a particular certification scheme.
• Chain of custody: Ability to track a product from the beginning
of production (harvesting trees in the forest), along the processing
and marketing channels to the final consumer.
• Eco-label: Proprietary symbol used to identify a product that
has been produced to a given environmental standard.
• First-, second- and third-party certification: Refers to who
sets the standards and administers the certification system. If done
by self, it is considered first-party. If done by a trade or other
related organization, it is generally considered second-party. If
done by an independent organization, it is third-party.
• Performance-based: Qualification for certification is determined
by assessing applicant performance against a set of measures set by
• Systems-based: Qualification for certification is determined
by examining the environmental management system that an applicant
is using, and determining its compliance with the certification system.
• Verification: Process of verifying compliance with a set of
A more-complete discussion of
the evolution of these and other certification systems is included
in “An Introduction to Forest Certification,” EC 1518,
available from the Oregon State University Extension Service, Corvallis,
Oregon. More information about Oregon's forest laws can also be obtained
either from the Oregon Department of Forestry or the OSU Extension
This study provided much insight
into the similarities and differences of Oregon’s extensive
legal requirements for forest landowners and the FSC and SFI certification
systems. Although all three sets of standards are changing through
time, the points below address not only differences in these standards,
but also differences in the processes and philosophies that drive
each system. Listed below are some of the key points that came out
of the analysis. Following these are some implications for landowners,
certifiers, and Oregon’s policy-makers. Finally, summaries
for each of the five major categories are presented.
2Overall Summary Points
1. Oregon law is mostly concerned with protecting public assets while
recognizing the importance of growing and harvesting forest products.
For public resources (e.g., water, endangered species, visual quality,
air quality) Oregon law has more-detailed requirements than do the
2. Certification systems assess whole ownerships and management systems,
while Oregon law looks at only certain components of the forest and
forest management systems.
3. FSC systems require meeting or exceeding all laws, while the SFI
program currently refers to meeting certain legal requirements (i.e.,
water laws, chemical laws, reforestation laws, and labor laws). Under
both certification systems, Oregon operations must meet higher requirements
than those in states without comprehensive forest practice laws and
4. The SFI Program is directed at several highly visible public concerns
about the impact of forest practices (i.e., sustainability, reforestation,
special-use areas, water quality, and chemical use).
5. The SFI program does not explicitly address many socioeconomic
concerns considered under the FSC certification systems (e.g., responsibility
to communities, land use and tenure, and economic viability).
6. FSC criteria are most detailed regarding adverse environmental
impacts of forest management and the monitoring and correction of
7. The two FSC certifiers examined, SmartWood and Scientific Certification
Systems, have similar certification guidelines but they differ significantly
in emphasis and detail. They also differ in some ways from the FSC
national indicators, which are the blueprint in the United States
for development of all FSC regional rules.
8. Each of the systems examined, including Oregon law, has at least
one area in which it exceeds the other systems in emphasis.
||• The SFI program provides specific
and extensive direction for support of forestry research, training
of employees and contractors, and special considerations for visual
management of the landscape.
• Oregon law and administrative rules contain extensive direction
for regeneration, air and water quality, and fire control.
• The FSC systems have significant detail regarding required
components of written plans, community relations, and chain-of-custody
and labeling of certified products.
9. Core or minimum standards are common to all systems.
In addition to required core indicators, the SFI Verification Program
also lists many additional indicators that may be used. FSC or SFI
participants in certification programs must show their commitment
to continuous improvement over time, a different target from the
minimum standards required by Oregon law.
10. Verification under the SFI Program follows well-established
accounting and auditing procedures used by major businesses, whereas
the FSC system allows accredited certifiers to develop their own
auditing systems with some overall direction in procedures.
11. The FSC system includes peer review of the assessment
report with the goal of providing an objective and scientifically
credible assessment. The SFI Program and Oregon legal process do
not include peer review, although ODF decisions about compliance
with laws may be appealed.
12. The FSC and SFI systems appear to be converging on transparency
and level of performance required. The SFI system has undergone
extensive changes during the past year in order to become a stronger
third-party certification system. The FSC network is also changing,
moving its headquarters closer to world business centers and making
certification more accessible to smaller owners through group certification.
Implications of Findings
Implications for Oregon Forest Landowners
Certainly certification is on
the minds of many of Oregon’s private and public forest owners.
A September 19, 2001 certification summit in Corvallis was one in
a number of certification meetings recently held to help owners
understand various certification options. Demand for certified wood
products appears to be on the rise, and these products are beginning
to show up on the shelves of such retail giants as Home Depot. .
This study reveals that Oregon
landowners appear to be at or above the level of the SFI and FSC
certification systems with respect to a number of categories of
analysis, specifically water quality, air quality, regeneration,
and fire control. If Oregon forest owners find it necessary to become
certified, to retain access to wood markets or for other reasons,
they will have to make fewer adjustments in management practices
than forest landowners in states and countries without a comparable
array of legal requirements. If certification were to be widely
adopted, it would force other wood- growing regions to meet Oregon’s
high regulatory standards and the higher operational costs associated
with them. This is good news. A bit of bad news to date is that
Oregon landowners have been imposing higher costs on themselves
through a stricter state legal standard, but they are not being
rewarded for it in the marketplace.
Oregon forest landowners who
embark upon the certification systems examined in this analysis
must exceed the legal standard in certain categories, specifically
written plans, inventory of resources, monitoring impacts, documenting
commitment to community economic viability, and record-keeping for
chain of custody. How much they have to do depends on which system
they choose. For example, under the SFI system, their current use
of herbicides in the forest, which is controlled by state and federal
law, may be adequate, but if they choose the FSC system they may
be required to make significant changes in herbicide use and documentation.
One striking difference between
the certification systems and state law is that the law does not
require a comprehensive written management plan. Both the FSC and
SFI systems require a written plan for third party audited certifications.
A written plan is also required for other popular certification
systems such as the Tree Farm Program. .
3Implications for Certifiers
The SFI and FSC should be able
to use the results of this study when conducting audits of Oregon
properties, to locate areas in which Oregon landowners are likely
to be strong or weak. This should allow certifiers to streamline
audits of Oregon landowners, and possibly make these audits cheaper.
This process could likely be enhanced if findings from inspections
conducted under the Forest Practices Act were shared with certification
The SFI and FSC should also
be able to see from this analysis where their systems measure up
to a democratically produced set of forest laws and guidelines that
were the product of a wide array of stakeholders in Oregon over
the past 50 years. The comparisons in different categories of analysis
should be useful in these organizations when they are determining
the standard that is adequate for a given category.
Although it was not the primary
intent of this study, the summary tables also allow for comparing
the SFI and FSC systems. The two systems have many things in common,
but definitely require different standards in specific categories.
Whether one system is better or more credible than the other depends
on what categories and issues are of greatest interest. For example,
while the SFI system has more detail about ensuring that workers
have adequate training, the FSC system concentrates more on ensuring
that they receive fair wages and long-term employment. In this analysis,
there does not seem to be a clearly superior system for all categories
Implications for Oregon’s Policy-Makers
A major point reinforced by
this study is that Oregon has an extensive set of laws and regulations
to protect public assets such as air, water, and fish and wildlife,
as well as the well-being of Oregon’s citizens. Oregon policy-makers
and citizens have long been national leaders in recognizing the
need to protect these assets, and they have enacted various legislation
such as a Reforestation Act, Forest Practices Act, land-use planning
laws, and worker-protection laws. All these laws and their attendant
administrative rules have served the purpose of protecting public
assets, but they have also increased the cost and complexity of
managing forests in Oregon.
The Oregon Board of Forestry
may find this study useful in examining the regulatory burden being
placed on landowners, and consider strategies to help landowners
recover some of regulatory cost in the marketplace. The Board of
Forestry may also want to examine collaborative data-sharing strategies
with certifiers that will allow certifications to take place in
a more efficient manner. Finally, the Board may want to increase
the requirements of the stewardship agreements to allow participating
landowners the dual benefit of lower regulatory cost and the opportunity
of becoming certified under one or more of the certification systems.
Program Administration and Process (Table
• Fundamental differences in philosophy
exist between laws and voluntary certification systems. While landowners
are required to comply with all laws, certification systems measure
how well they conform with specified criteria and standards.
• The FSC and AF&PA are membership organizations, with
members and program staff having a direct ability to influence certification
rules and programs through committee appointments and other internal
input. In the FSC, major policies can be made through a vote of
the membership. In the SFI program, the Sustainable Forestry Board
approves all policy and rules.
• FSC membership is composed of a wide range of organizations
including forest product buyers groups, forest landowners, labor
unions, churches, and environmental organizations. The SFI Program
is also composed of different types of organizations including forest
landowners, forest products manufacturers, conservation organizations,
universities, state and county land management agencies, and others
through their membership in the AF&PA or a licensee’s
program. The FSC certifiers examined represent both a for-profit
company (SCS) and a nonprofit network of partners (SmartWood), while
the SFI verifiers represent for-profit businesses.
• The length of time various programs and associated organizations
have been in operation varies. Oregon forest laws and rules have
been evolving over the past 60 years, beginning with the Forest
Protection Act of 1941 In contrast, the certification systems have
been in operation only since the early 1990s, with FSC starting
in 1993 and the SFI program introduced publicly in 1995 after several
years of development.
• Oregon forest laws and rules come about through a public
process with mandated transparency, stakeholder input, and opportunity
for change through the electoral process. The certification systems
have some stakeholder input into setting of standards, but their
processes are generally less transparent than the state legislative
• While certification system standards are reviewed and updated
at the pleasure of the system manager, the Oregon Forest Practices
Rules require annual review by the Board of Forestry in consultation
with other state agencies, and revision in a public forum as needed.
• While Oregon laws require an operation-by-operation notification,
the certification systems look at the whole ownership or ownership
block at a point in time. While a Forest Practices Forester may
never examine an individual property on site, field inspection is
required for both the SFI program and FSC systems before certification
status is granted. Individual forest practices are not examined
under the certification systems unless they fall under the sampling
done at the time of assessment. In essence, Oregon law looks carefully
at the parts whenever an operation is done, while the certification
systems look at a sample of the whole of the forest ownership.
• Oregon law tends to focus on specific targets and the use
of best management practices, (i.e., reforestation standards, riparian
area protection, stream and wetland protection, and resource site
protection standards), while certification systems tend to look
at broader resource issues (profitability, biological conservation,
equity for workers and communities).
• Verification within the SFI program involves third-party
audits from professional accounting and auditing businesses and
forestry experts. In addition, the Forest Monitoring Program of
the External Review Panel makes external input into the SFI program.
FSC assessments generally include only forestry experts.
• Verification within FSC certifiers also varies considerably.
While the SmartWood system treats all criteria with somewhat equal
weight. The SCS system includes weighting of various criteria in
order to put the highest score on the most important criteria.
• The Oregon legal system has included monitoring of system
effectiveness, while the certification systems to date have not
released any information showing that certification has improved
forests or forest management practices.
| Not all Oregon Forest Practices rules are
subject to enforcement action. The Oregon Department of Forestry has
guidance documents that instruct Forest Practices Foresters rules
to be specifically enforced and ones subject to general resource protection
status. Rules are enforced with civil penalties of up to $5,000 or
criminal actions when damage has occurred.
• If they break the law, Oregon
forest landowners are faced with potential criminal and/or civil
penalties for each operation or practice. Failure to meet certification
conditions for either of the certification systems is handled under
the contract with the certifier and can result in loss of certified
status by the landowner. In the case of AF&PA, not meeting the
SFI standards can also be grounds for expulsion of members or licensees.
• Under the FSC, certifiers can also be punished for
poor performance in doing certifications by having their accreditation
removed. The biggest potential threat for certifiers performing
either FSC or SFI certifications is that their reputation might
be discredited and clients would not hire them for assessments.
• A dispute during a forest operation or while an assessment
audit is in progress is generally handled within the organization
involved (either ODF, FSC certifier, or SFI auditor).
• Dispute resolution processes are in effect for both Oregon
laws, and for the two certification systems, although some minor
differences in process exist.
• Oregon Department of Forestry appears to have the most
specific requirements for both experience and formal education for
employees it hires. The department also offers extensive and ongoing
training to ensure competency of personnel. Of the certification
systems examined, the SFI program has the most stringent criteria
for training and credentialing of certifiers. Their system is based
on professional accounting and auditing practices with specialties
in sustainable forestry auditing; forest-certification auditing
requires specialized training. The FSC and SFI systems both recruit
teams of forestry experts for their assessments based on the reputation
and experience of the team members. The SFI program also requires
that one member of the team be a forester as defined by the Society
of American Foresters. SmartWood has a formal training package for
potential assessment-team leaders and members.
• Of the three systems examined, Oregon’s legal
system has the highest level of transparency to the general public
through mandated public hearings and reporting requirements. Both
FSC and the SFI program seek external input about their programs,
but they reserve decision-making for private sessions of appointed
committees. The FSC rules committees operate at regional, national,
and international levels. The SFI program is directed by the Sustainable
Forestry Board, a committee of AF&PA members (40%), and non-member
stakeholders (60 %).
• The public has open access to landowner notifications
of operations and other reports done by the ODF. In contrast, only
selected information (public summaries) is available from FSC certifications,
and SFI third-party audit disclosures are not required. Public agencies
undergoing an FSC or SFI certification, however, require full disclosure
of the entire certification process.
| The systematic
and public process to develop and administer state laws and rules
results in relatively objective and consistent policies and applications.
||• The certification systems
examined are an interesting mix of types of organizations. FSC and
AF&PA are both nonprofit membership organizations, with different
memberships. The SmartWood Network is composed of nonprofit organizations,
while SCS is a for-profit company.
Forest Planning and Monitoring (Table
||• The FSC National Indicators
and SmartWood systems require the most comprehensive written plan
of any of the systems involved. The SFI requires a plan, but allows
a wide choice of plan components and forms, therefore it is unclear
what is actually mandatory. Legal requirements are only for operation-by-operation
plans and notifications, rather than a comprehensive management plan.
If a landowner chooses the stewardship agreement process, more documentation
is required, but only for topics dealing with complying with state
laws, so the written plan is still less comprehensive than the other
• All the certification systems examined require inventory
of significant resources. Differences include items such as non-timber
products, road classifications and “High Conservation Value
Forests,” which are required under FSC systems but not explicitly
by SFI. Oregon’s Forest Practice laws require landowners to
inventory to determine a need to reforest. In addition, when filing
notification of operations, slope, evidence of slope instability,
and distance to water bodies (lake, stream, channel, wetland) must
be noted. Where timber harvest in riparian management areas is planned,
tree inventory is needed to identify which, if any, may be cut. Inventory
of other resources and features generally is optional, although state
agencies may inventory locally important resource sites that may affect
management options for landowners. However, even in the case of stewardship
agreements, the comprehensiveness of the inventory required by Oregon
law is less than for FSC certification systems.
• Oregon requirements do not directly address sustained yield,
but instead approach it via reforestation requirements, green-tree
retention, clearcut restrictions and riparian management area (RMA)
retention requirements. By contrast, the SFI and FSC systems specifically
require calculation of and adherence to sustained yield. The SCS system,
in particular, places great emphasis on sustained yield.
• The FSC systems require sustained yield of non-timber
forest products, while SFI and legal systems are silent on this issue.
• While all systems require some monitoring by landowners, the
certification systems require more monitoring than does the law. The
SmartWood and FSC National Indicators require collection of relatively
extensive biological and other data (current practices and environmental
impacts) to use for adjusting management practices. SFI concentrates
monitoring on clearcuts (visual aspects), training, and flow of information
about the SFI.
• While all the FSC systems require complete chain-of-custody
tracking, the SFI system currently has no provision for it. The State
requires log branding and source identification for logs sold to mills,
which amounts to at least a partial chain-of-custody. SFI has plans
in the works for a non-chain-of-custody-based eco-label by fall 2001.
Forest Management Practices (Table
||• Prompt reforestation with
native species following harvest is required under all certification
systems and Oregon law. Oregon legal requirements are the most explicit
and detailed of any of the systems examined. Besides use of native
species, FSC systems are more restrictive by requiring maintenance
of the native or natural forest type; plantations of native species
are not equivalent to natural forests under FSC guidelines.
• FSC National Indicator and Oregon law address soil and
residual-tree protection under provisions for site preparation. SmartWood
and SCS are not explicit about site preparation requirements, while
SFI offers minimal guidance.
• All systems emphasize use of locally adapted sources
and use of either artificial or natural regeneration. Use of genetically
modified organisms is specifically prohibited under the FSC systems,
allowable under SFI, and not addressed by Oregon law.
• SCS and SmartWood have some emphasis on stocking control
and intermediate stand treatments, whereas Oregon law and the FSC
National Indicators address stocking through requirements for harvest
and subsequent reforestation (e.g., minimum stocking, free-to-grow
• All systems allow forest fertilization, although the
FSC national indicators emphasize productivity management through
natural cycles, rather than reliance on inputs of human-supplied nutrients.
• All systems except SCS recognize both the prescriptive
use of fire and the control of catastrophic wildfire. Oregon law provides
the most detailed and specific directives regarding fire management
• All systems recognize the need to control or limit major
pest or pathogen problems. FSC, however, emphasizes prevention and
maintaining natural cycles and processes to minimize problems.
• Oregon law, SCS and SmartWood recognize roads as necessary
part of forest management. SFI and FSC National indicators have no
explicit statement about roads.
• All systems assume that some timber harvest will occur.
• Both SFI and FSC emphasize efficient utilization and minimizing
waste. FSC National Indicators emphasize “optimal” use
and broad interpretation of forest goods and services.
• All systems except Oregon law emphasize training and
supervision of personnel for management of forests. SFI places the
greatest emphasis on training and supervision, imposing substantial
requirements for participants. Oregon law requires some training and
licensing of pesticide operators.
Environmental Considerations (Table
||• FSC systems emphasize maintenance
of ecological functions as a primary means of addressing forest productivity,
species diversity, and landscape-level concerns. SFI does not explicitly
address ecological function, and Oregon law makes only limited reference
to it. SFI and Oregon law focus on dealing with symptoms of long-term
productivity loss and less on linkages between function and productivity.
• All systems address threatened and endangered species and
other species-conservation concerns. SFI and FSC emphasize biological
conservation through habitat management. FSC systems provide the most
specific and potentially significant directives (i.e., they designate
old-growth and other unique forest types as more important to protect
and refer to them as High Conservation Value Forests. Oregon law addresses
biological and species conservation through the protection of inventoried
resource sites on private lands and extensive reserves and habitat
management areas required by law on public lands.
• All systems except Oregon law give specific consideration
to landscape-scale concerns. SFI and FSC National Indicators provide
specific direction for management at various appropriate scales through
the landscape level.
• All systems except the SFI require justification for the use
of exotic species.
• Oregon law and the FSC systems have explicit requirements
for protection of special areas and reserves. SFI requires “special
consideration,” but it is unclear how protection is assured.
FSC systems also require general reserve areas to be set aside on
• Oregon laws recognize the need to protect the “waters
of the state,” and include more specific and detailed requirements
for water resource protection (for example, riparian widths, minimum
basal area requirements) than do any of the certification systems
examined. The high Oregon legal standard for water-resource protection
means Oregon landowners who participate in certification systems requiring
compliance with state and local water laws must follow stricter water-protection
standards than landowners certified under the same systems in states
and regions with lower water-protection standards.
• The SmartWood system requires culverts large enough meet a
100-year flood, while the Oregon law requires that culverts meet a
50-year flood standard and allow passage for both juvenile and adult
• The approach of the certification systems to water resource
protection is generally that of continuous improvement, while the
Oregon law sets minimum standards. The Oregon legal system permits
optional alternative operations plans for restoration and enhancement
of degraded sites along water.
• All the systems examined address soil resource impacts and
soil protection. There is considerable overlap in considerations for
protection of soil and water.
• The FSC national indicators place some emphasis on restoration
of areas of damaged soil, but the other systems and the Oregon law
are silent on this topic.
• None of the systems examined prohibits the use of chemicals,
but all require careful and controlled use. Federal and Oregon laws
on pesticides have specific and detailed directives for use and safety.
• FSC systems require reduction and eventual elimination of
chemical use. The FSC national indicators reference a list of FSC-approved
chemicals for use in the forest. This list excludes some legal chemicals.
• As with water, Oregon law recognizes air as a public resource
and requires special measures (such as regulation of slash burning)
to protect air quality. Certification systems do not refer specifically
to air quality, although some protection is inferred and deferred
to state law.
Socioeconomic Considerations (Table
|| • Oregon law and the FSC systems
discourage conversion of forestlands to other uses. Protection of
important forest areas is mandated under Oregon law. The FSC systems
require evidence of intent of the owner toward long-term forest tenure,
and require consideration of indigenous peoples’ rights (access
and others). The SFI is silent regarding land use and conversion.
• All systems include some requirements for community and cultural
relations, but the nature and emphasis of these requirements varies.
FSC systems emphasize community-level and neighbor considerations
and responsibilities, while SFI targets efforts to the broader “public,”
with some reference to local involvement. The Oregon legal process
focuses heavily on protection of public assets and rights. It also
requires public access to information about inspection of forest operations
and other agency business.
• All systems address worker relations and safety, but through
different approaches. Oregon law uses extensive safety codes and worker-rights
rules, combined with licensing and inspections, to ensure a safe working
environment and adequate consideration of worker rights. The SFI system
relies on training requirements to ensure that workers are well prepared
and safe, but is silent on worker rights. The FSC systems focus on
collecting evidence of certain indicators of the social and economic
well being of workers to ensure that workers are well paid, well prepared,
and have a safe working environment.
• The FSC systems place clear emphasis on establishing that
an operation has long-term economic viability and stability as a means
for sustainable forestry. FSC requires reinvestment of earnings in
the forest through management practices and infrastructure. The SFI
system does not specifically identify how to evaluate economic viability,
and Oregon law makes a broad reference to it through rules that require
maintenance of the forest land base and of productivity.
• The FSC systems specifically require compliance with all applicable
state, federal and local laws and regulations, while SFI currently
mentions only specific laws and regulations for required compliance
(i.e. water-quality laws, reforestation laws, chemical use laws).
SFI program participants have to comply with all applicable laws under
newly approved guidelines, which were implemented January 1, 2002.
• Consideration of visual management and aesthetics is addressed
under all systems except the FSC national indicators. The SFI gives
significant emphasis to maintaining visual quality in general, while
Oregon law requires visual management primarily along designated state
and federal “scenic highways.”