Potlach First Public Company to Explore Comparison of Certification Programs
Press release from the issuing company
March 24, 2003; Portland, OR – Today the Pinchot Institute for Conservation announced that Potlatch Corporation will become the first publicly-traded forest products company in the U.S. to undergo a dual assessment of its forest management practices under the standards of the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) and the Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI), the nation’s two primary forest certification programs.
Potlatch practices on its 670,000 acres of Idaho timberland will be examined in side-by-side field comparisons under SFI and FSC standards. This unprecedented opportunity is being offered by the Pinchot Institute, a nonprofit organization that tests and evaluates new tools and policies to promote forest conservation.
“I commend Potlatch for their commitment to high standards of forestry, as indicated by their willingness to participate in both FSC and SFI certification assessments on their lands,” said Al Sample, President of the Pinchot Institute. He added, “certification offers assurance to the public that a forest is being well managed. This project highlights Potlatch’s leadership in this arena.”
Potlatch officials said their participation is an opportunity for the company to advance its commitment to high stewardship and management standards.
“Potlatch is pleased to take a leadership role in this dual assessment effort. We have long understood that success in our industry and in the marketplace is directly tied to maintaining public trust and acceptance of resource management practices employed on our lands,” Potlatch Vice President for Resource Management John Olson said.
In another first for the forest products industry, the assessment will be conducted with full transparency, according to the Pinchot Institute. Potlatch has agreed to make public all findings, results, recommendations and reports.
Pinchot Institute Senior Fellow and certification projects manager Catherine Mater noted that this project will provide critical information for others in the forest products industry. “We’ve completed dual assessment projects on public forestlands across the U.S. over the last five years. But transferring the lessons from public lands to private corporately owned forestlands is difficult,” said Mater, adding, “the full transparency of this project allows us to really learn from the experience.”
Wood retailers say the dual assessment will enhance public confidence in certified wood products. Ron Jarvis, The Home Depot’s Vice President of Merchandizing, said a greater certified wood supply is needed to satisfy a customer base that is becoming more discriminating of the wood products they buy. “In 1999, The Home Depot sold $15 million of FSC certified wood off our shelves; by 2002 sales hit $250 million. We are always seeking new supplies of certified wood products that will allow Home Depot to further strengthen its commitment to its customers who want to know that their wood purchases are encouraging sustainable forestry,” Jarvis said.
Unlike many forests products companies, Potlatch provides most (83%) of the wood processed in its Idaho mills from its own forestlands. Those mills produce 250 million board feet of lumber and 125 million square feet of plywood panels annually (enough wood to build 16,000 homes per year).
In addition to participating in the dual assessment, Potlatch will perform a “reverse assessment”, an evaluation of its experience with the two certification standards. “This is an ideal way for us to understand the adequacy, relevance and effectiveness of both certification systems from an industrial forestry perspective,” Sample said. “We are pleased to work with Potlatch to evaluate FSC and SFI certification on their lands.”
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