Many leading buyers of forest products have been challenged by environmental groups to commit to buying only products that come from forests that have been independently certified as coming from sustainably managed forests. Canada is well positioned to meet that growing demand with the world’s largest area of forests independently certified to credible sustainable forest management (SFM) standards. The growth in SFM certification has been significant in Canada and in 2003 the certified area doubled and now totals 57 million ha. If one adds ISO 14001 certifications, Canada has a certified area of around 145 million ha.

In Canada, forests that are independent third-party certificated to any of the following three forestry-specific certification standards are considered SFM certified:

While the Forest Products Association of Canada (FPAC) and the Canadian government have long recognised that the implementation of these three standards promotes SFM, there is also an increasing trend for large buyers and retailers of Canadian forest products to recognise CSA, SFI and FSC in their procurement strategies and, in so doing, allow full access to sustainably managed Canadian forest products. Moreover, many of these buyers are well aware of supply realities of forest products from certified sources, and therefore understand that encouraging the use of all three standards does not only promote SFM, it also comes with the advantage of being able to “walk the talk”, and actually procure certified timber products.

Buying with confidence

The Canadian forest industry believes that customers should be able to buy, with full confidence, products produced under each of the certification methods mentioned. A landmark decision by FPAC in January 2002 committed its membership to achieving SFM certification on all lands under its management by the end of 2006. This has been instrumental in the phenomenal growth in certification that will help meet customer procurement needs. Consider that one month before the FPAC commitment there were only 17 million ha certified in Canada and two years later there are 57 million ha certified – and that number is expected to double by the end of 2006. The FPAC commitment is both far-reaching and unique. After all, FPAC members account for some 75% of managed forest land in Canada and FPAC is the only forest industry association in the world to make such a certification commitment on behalf of its membership.