Forest Service considers sustainability certification

In an attempt to stem criticism of its logging and forest-management practices from both timber companies and conservationists, the U.S. Forest Service is assessing a handful of forests to determine if they meet management requirements outlined by two very different sustainable forestry organizations, with an eye toward possible certification of national forests in the future. The Sustainable Forest Initiative, supported by the industry group American Forest and Paper Association, is, its critics argue, little more than a timber-industry rubber stamp. The other program, run by the Forest Stewardship Council, is more stringent — for instance, it does not allow logging in old-growth forests or sensitive wildlife areas. For now, Forest Service officials say they’re just looking at how their practices measure up before deciding whether to pursue certification. “Certification has become part of the global vocabulary,” said Forest Service spokesperson Dan Jiron. “As an agency, we think, ‘Why wouldn’t we look at these things?'”