Tennessee forest system certified

From Staff Reports

   Tennessee has become the first southern state to achieve independent certification of its forest system. Gov. Don Sundquist made the announcement earlier this week. The certification was confirmed by representatives of the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), an international, non-profit organization which promotes sustainable management of the world's forests.
   "This certification serves as a guarantee to all Tennesseans that only the highest principles and standards are employed in the management of our state forests," said Sundquist. "By demonstrating certification on our state forests, we can provide options for thousands of private forestland owners who are the most critical component of the forest landscape in Tennessee," Sundquist said. "Forest certification serves as a viable and preferable alternative to sometimes costly, unnecessary and burdensome regulation."
   Hank Cauley, Executive Director of the FSC, hopes that Tennessee's efforts will initiate action among other states. "This is a groundbreaking effort which will set a positive environmental precedent for the South. The region is considered the 'American fiber basket,' producing 60 percent of all forest products in the United States today," Cauley said. "The FSC is gratified that Tennessee has taken this step towards responsible, environmentally, economically and socially sound forestry."
   Tennessee's certification of its 158,000-acre state forest system follows an announcement by the state Department of Agriculture a year ago that the agency was seeking certification under the two nationally recognized standards. Sundquist said that the state is committed to maintaining certification by FSC in addition to seeking certification under the American Forest & Paper Association's Sustainable Forest Initiative.
   Described as a "good housekeeping" seal of approval, certification is a relatively new concept by which an independent organization audits the forest management practices of the landowner to ensure that only environmentally sound, sustainable practices are used.
   Only a few states, including Michigan, Minnesota, New York and Pennsylvania, have adopted forest certification standards.