Niger Innis

Environmental activists constantly pressure government agencies to intervene in the lives of others, whether it is telling them how to run their businesses, where they can build their homes, or what types of food they can and cannot eat, among countless other examples.

Another area activists are increasingly focusing on is forest management, telling tree farmers how they should manage their land. Common sense would tell you that a one-size-fits-all system of land management would not fit the diverse landscapes of the U.S., in terms of climate, elevation, and many other variables.

Unfortunately, common sense is not that common among those with the loudest voices on this issue.

Last year, we wrote about the detrimental effects of a Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) monopoly in timber markets, and its negative impact on consumers and entrepreneurs around the world. Since that time, additional research has shown the real financial costs resulting from such a framework.

A study released last month by EconoSTATS at George Mason University concludes that forcing the preferred land management program of environmental activists –the FSC – would lead to over 40,000 job losses in Oregon and Arkansas alone.

Another report released last year by the American Consumer Institute quantified the economic loss in wood products and paper markets if FSC were made a controlling requirement for American forests. The study put these amounts at a staggering $10 billion for wood products and $24 billion for paper products markets. It follows, as night follows day, that such a steep reduction in commerce leads to massive job losses.

Both government policies and non-market pressures from activists seek to promote FSC at the expense of competing programs, such as the American Tree Farm System (ATFS) and the Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI), which combined certify tens of millions more acres of land in America than FSC.

The U.S. Green Building Council’s (USGBC) “LEED” rating system, for example, exclusively awards its ‘certified wood’ credits to FSC timber. With the rapid growth of LEED-certified buildings nationwide, a majority of our forest products businesses are getting unnecessarily obstructed or blocked from participating in more and more projects.

Niger Innis

Niger Innis currently serves as the National Spokesman for the Congress of Racial Equality.