Niger Innis

FSC’s activist allies constantly brag how they intimidate Fortune 500 companies into revising their supply chains or stopping them from stocking their stores with products certified by other credible programs. This limits the customer base for forestry-based businesses and raises prices for consumers.

Such efforts do not help the environment either.

Since FSC certifies 90% of its property outside the U.S., policies that promote its use increase the chances that lumber will be imported from abroad. FSC enforces dozens of different standards across the globe and holds landowners in other nations to far lower standards than it does for American tree farmers. Relatively lower-quality timber from Russia or Brazil can end up displacing American wood in domestic markets. Even Greenpeace, an FSC supporter, is now calling FSC’s credibility into question because of its varied standards.

As the EconoSTATS study stated, “the FSC program imposes large economic costs and greater global environmental degradation unintentionally creating the worst of both worlds. And, due to the labeling requirements, consumers and businesses have no definitive way of knowing the actual conditions under which their FSC certified forest products were harvested.”

It is ironic that FSC supporters promote the program as the alternative to other credible programs, which supposedly represent “big business.” But it is often smaller landowners who often cannot meet FSC’s steep standards in America. If they are denied from choosing other certification programs or the economic returns from ATFS and SFI certification are diminished (as they are in LEED projects), then these landowners could give up certification altogether or even sell their property to developers.

Thinking beyond step one has never been a priority for environmental extremists. But that is no excuse for the rest of us not to do so.

This type of environmental extremism hurts consumers, businesses, and workers – including family farmers, millworkers, woodworkers, carpenters, and truckers – alike. Denying them options in certification markets or entry into green building projects does nothing for the environment or the economy.

It is time for those who understand these facts to inform others, before they get misinformed by people and groups whose job is to misinform. Too many livelihoods are at stake to ignore the detrimental effects of wrongheaded policies that are dressed up in the rhetoric of idealism.

Niger Innis

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