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[FLM MAY / JUNE 2012 ] DeathTaxes&Certification Second Page
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The certification movement is focused on the most regulated and sustainably managed forest in the world – the United states private forests and the people who sustain them. And, if you’re reading this article you could be in the cross hairs.

There is nothing inherently wrong with certification— many FLA members are certified by at least one certification program, usually the sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI) or the American Tree Farm system (ATFs), and increasingly The Forest stewardship Council (FSC). Many of these landowners use certification for market access or for proof-positive to stockholders that they are managing their lands in a responsible manner. However, the majority of private forest landowners (in raw numbers) do not certify at all due to cost, complexity, or simply a lack of clarity of why they would want their lands to be certified.

To be clear, our position at FLA is that certification should be a free choice made by the landowners based on their individual situation. We do not favor or disapprove of any single certification program. However, a core belief for our organization is that certification should not be promoted and certainly not mandated by any state or federal agency.

For at least the past century, our country has not experienced environmental problems on privately-owned forests nor do we have a sustainability problem. Forests have proven to be incredibly resilient with no loss of volume

Certain policy-makers 

and marketplaces

perceive certification as a

solution for a problem

that does not exist.


over the past 100 years, despite the urban sprawl associated with massive population growth. We have protected water quality with Best Management Practices; adhered to the Clean Water Act; positioned ourselves to be a part of the solution to our nation’s energy issues; and provided habitat for countless species of plants and animals. These statements are substantiated by a plethora of UsDA and independent studies.

Personally, I’ve been more of a close observer rather than an advocate or opponent of certification system. As stated above, these programs have proven practical for most large landowners but for the vast majority of private forest landowners, the benefits remain unclear and thus many have chosen not to participate. In some parts of south America, Africa, and Asia, where certification first took root, it is...

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